Aberdeen MP Ross Thomson has announced he is standing down immediately as an MP following accusations which surfaced in a Sunday newspaper.
Mr Thomson, a Boris Johnson ally who helped run the prime minister’s campaign north of the border, was accused of “sexually assaulting” Glasgow-based Labour MP Paul Sweeney in an article in the Mail on Sunday.
He strenuously denies the allegation and has stated he is seeking advice on what actions to take in regard to the “damaging allegations”.
Mr Sweeney said he was “paralysed” with shock after Ross Thomson allegedly groped him while he spoke to friends in the Strangers’ Bar.
Mr Thomson, the incumbent for Aberdeen South, is now under investigation by Westminster’s standards watchdog over the alleged incident
Mr Thomson said the decision to stand down was the most “difficult” choice he has had to make.
He said : “I have made clear already today that the allegations printed in the Mail on Sunday are false and defamatory.
“This is a political smear and I will continue to fight to clear my name. I will see this investigatory process through to a conclusion.
“Anonymous and malicious allegations this year have made my life a living hell. It has been nothing short of traumatic. I have suffered a level of personal abuse that has affected my health, my mental wellbeing and my staff. It has been a level of abuse that I never imagined possible.
“I always believed politics was about noble pursuits and doing what you believed to be best for your country. My experience is that our politics is now so poisonous that we will never attract good, honest and decent people in the first place.
“I have therefore made the most difficult decision that I could ever make. I have decided that I will stand down as the Scottish Conservative and Unionist candidate for Aberdeen South.
“I simply cannot thank my family, friends, staff and everybody who has shown we love, kindness and support for the past two years enough – and for the years before when I was an MSP and councillor.
“Serving as the MP for Aberdeen South has been the absolute privilege of my life. It has been a job that I have loved more than any other and nothing can ever come close to being able to stand up for our city and to help people who need you.
“This has been without doubt the hardest decision of my life. I remain confident that the ongoing parliamentary standards process will find in my favour, and that these baseless claims will be shown up for what they are.
“As I have already said I will continue to explore all options available to me in response to the defamatory and damaging allegations made by Mr Sweeney.
“This general election campaign is hugely important for the future of Scotland, and indeed the very future of our Union.
“Therefore, I wish my successor candidate all the very best in their efforts to protect Scotland’s place in the UK and to sort Brexit.”
Simon Turner, Aberdeen City Conservative Association chairman, said: “Ross Thomson has been a fantastic MP and a champion for his city. He has always put his constituents first and it is with deep regret that we accept his decision today.
“However, we understand that the recent media coverage has been extremely difficult for Ross and it would have made the upcoming general election campaign a deeply unpleasant experience.
“We would like to thank Ross for his years of hard work for this city, as a councillor, an MSP and an MP for the last two years.”