Shamed MSP Frank McAveety quits job after storm over his comments about woman

A SENIOR Labour MSP has stepped down as the chairman of a Holyrood committee after being caught describing a woman at a Scottish Parliament hearing as "very attractive".

• McAveety: 'I apologise for any offence my comments caused'. Picture: TSPL

Former minister Frank McAveety also quit his role as Labour's sports spokesman after the incident, in which a microphone picked up remarks he made to a clerk during a gap in the proceedings of the public petitions committee.

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Members of the committee had just finished taking evidence from Parkinson's disease campaigners about the problems they can face if they do not get the medicine they need when Mr McAveety began speaking to his committee clerk under his breath.

The Glasgow Shettleston MSP had already apologised for his comments, which he started by saying: "There's a very attractive girl in the second row, dark … and dusky. We'll maybe put a wee word out for her."

Mr McAveety went on: "She's very attractive looking, nice, very nice, very slim," before adding: "The heat's getting to me."

The MSP also said: "She looks kinda … she's got that Filipino look. You know … the kind you'd see in a Gauguin painting. There's a wee bit of culture."

Mr McAveety set out his resignation in a letter to Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray yesterday.

He said: "I came to the decision after reflecting overnight on the reports of comments I made at the committee.

"I would not want the incident to detract in any way from the work of the committee and the substantial contribution I feel I have made as convener.

"I am proud of the progress made during my time as convener and that it has become much more accessible to the public.

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"I would like to reiterate my apology for any offence which my comments may have caused."

Mr McAveety's resignation from his committee and front- bench party spokesman's role was accepted by Mr Gray.

The incident has been compared to the pre-election gaffe that saw former prime minister Gordon Brown disparage Rochdale pensioner Gillian Duffy.

Mr McAveety was caught on a live microphone during a break in the committee's proceedings to allow members of the public to leave the room.

He has been the subject of controversy in the Scottish Parliament before and he was forced to apologise after turning up late to answer questions in the chamber during his time as culture minister in 2004.

At the time, Mr McAveety told the presiding officer he had been "unavoidably detained" at a book awards ceremony.

It later emerged he had been in the staff canteen having lunch, after journalists spotted him eating a plate of pie, beans and potatoes.

The incident, dubbed "piegate", was concluded after he offered a full apology.