Mark McDonald: releasing report of sexual harassment investigation would ‘address a lot of misconceptions’

Written by Staff reporter on 11 March 2018 in News

In an exclusive interview with Holyrood, Mark McDonald explains why he is staying on as an independent MSP

Mark McDonald MSP - Image credit: Mark McDonald/Facebook video screengrab

The former SNP minister who resigned from the party following a probe into harassment claims says he would welcome the report into his behaviour made public.

In an exclusive interview with Holyrood magazine, Mark McDonald, who will return to parliament this week as an independent MSP, says that as long as steps were taken to protect the identity of any women involved, he would like the report published.

Asked if he would like the content of the report to be known, he replied: “I think it would address a lot of the misconceptions that are out there, a lot of the suppositions that are out there.

“[But] I think that it if was to be released, it would have to be done so in a redacted fashion, because one thing I’m very strong on and this is that people shouldn’t be identified or feel the need that they have to identify themselves.

“That’s not how this should work.”

There is widespread disquiet among women MSPs that McDonald is returning to Holyrood and even the First Minister, who had initially defended McDonald, has said he should step down as an MSP.

McDonald, who has undertaken counselling about his behaviour, told Holyrood that he didn’t dispute that his conduct had fallen below the standards expected of him, but that he should be allowed to return.

He said: “I don’t dispute that I have behaved in a way that fell below the professional standards that should be expected of me, but if we are to say that people cannot make a mistake and then rehabilitate and return, what message are we sending out more widely?

“What are we saying about the concept of rehabilitation? Are we saying that it’s impossible?”

Holyrood asks whether he should be considered a sex pest.

“I would hope not,” he replies.

McDonald resigned from the SNP last week after meeting with the chief whip and a party official, who allowed him to see a summary of a report which followed an investigation into his behaviour.

He was told that it would be up to the parliamentary group to decide on his future, but that the group did not want him back and neither did the First Minister.

McDonald resigned from the party the next day.

As he prepares to return to parliament, he said he wanted to show that his previous behaviour was not all he was.

He said: “One of the hardest parts of this is having a version of you held up in front of you that you don’t recognise as you.

“And it doesn’t tally with how you see yourself.

“And having to come to terms with the idea that maybe you’re wrong about yourself. And maybe other people see you very differently.

“I want to come back and demonstrate, yes to colleagues, yes to constituents, but also to my kids, that this wasn’t all that I was.

“That this wasn’t the sum of me, because otherwise this will be their truth.”

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