SNP council leader resigns after sexual misconduct allegation
Jordan Linden, 27, who secured the £45,000 council leader role in May, had been facing calls to step down from opposition figures.
He expressed regret for his past behaviour, but said his own mental health has been “seriously affected” by press coverage.
It comes after the Sunday Mail reported claims that Mr Linden had made unwanted advances towards a teenager at a party in Dundee in September 2019.
The councillor was described as being "very drunk" at the time of the incident, which is said to have happened in a flat after the city's annual Pride parade.
In an email to colleagues, Mr Linden wrote: "I want to make colleagues aware that I am resigning from my position as leader of North Lanarkshire Council today.
"Although I have never approached any personal interaction with ill intent, I accept that my behaviour at that party in 2019 caused a sense of discomfort which I entirely regret.
"I offered my apologies to the person concerned at the time and the matter was closed. I reiterate that apology today.
"And in all that’s been said in recent days, the empathetic words from that individual have given me the most reassurance.
"The recent press coverage of this has placed an immense strain on me personally. My mental health and wellbeing is being seriously affected, and the impact it is having is profound.
"This is foremost in my consideration about my future, as well as the interests of my partner, family and those closest to me.
"By resigning, I hope to be allowed the space to get my mental health back in balance.
"I have no wish for my personal circumstances to overshadow the work of the political administration of the council as it implements the manifesto on which it was elected in May.”
Mr Linden added: "The council carries out extremely important work every day for people across the whole of North Lanarkshire and it is vital that there is no distraction, particularly at a time when many of the people we represent face unprecedented cost-of-living pressures and daily challenges.
"It has been the privilege of my life to serve in this role, and I remain proud that I was able to lead the Scottish National Party to administration in North Lanarkshire for the first time.
"I intend to continue to represent the people of Bellshill to the very best of my ability as a councillor, as I have done since first being elected in 2017. The privilege of representing my home town continues to be incredibly special to me."
It was previously reported Mr Linden was facing a likely confidence vote after being urged to resign by North Lanarkshire's Labour opposition leader Jim Logue.
Mr Linden had been nominated for selection to be a candidate in the 2019 Westminster election, but announced he would not be standing just days after the alleged incident in Dundee.
He said he wanted to "re-focus on my important work locally in council and on my own health and wellbeing".
The Sunday Mail reported SNP bosses were made aware of the claims shortly after the Dundee party.
An SNP spokesman said: “The individual made clear to the SNP that the matter was resolved, and he would not be making a complaint."
It comes amid wider criticism over how the SNP handles complaints and allegations.
Patrick Grady, the party's former chief whip in Westminster, was recently suspended from Parliament for two days after he was found to have made an "unwanted sexual advance" towards a teenage SNP staffer in 2016.
Labour MSP Neil Bibby said Mr Linden’s resignation “was the right thing to do, but it doesn’t fix the rotten culture of secrecy and cover-up at the heart of the SNP”.
He said: “His apology makes it all the more appalling that the SNP hierarchy were so willing to close ranks to protect him.
“The SNP cannot keep looking the other way and letting their scandal-hit politicians call the shots.
“Their own activists have made it clear that they don’t have faith in the party’s complaints system – but the SNP are treating these concerns with outright contempt.
“The SNP need to start listening to their own members and overhaul this broken system, so that it protects victims instead of protecting the party.”
A council spokesperson said: "We can confirm that the chief executive has received a letter from Councillor Jordan Linden resigning his role as leader of the council.
"A new leader will be elected at a meeting of the council to be held in due course."
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