Mark McDonald returns to Holyrood amid MSPs’ plan to freeze him out

© PA
Mark McDonald makes a statement to the media on his return to the Scottish Parliament.

MSPs in the region are planning to freeze Mark McDonald out of Holyrood debates as the shamed politician made his controversial return.

Several of Holyrood’s Tayside and Fife representatives also added to the clamour for the sleaze-tarnished MSP to step down from his £62,000 job for harassing staff.

The Dundee University graduate, who quit as a Scottish Government minister last year, admitted exploiting his position of power to pester women in the parliament following an SNP investigation.

The ex-SNP MSP faced a grilling as he entered Holyrood for the first time since the scandal broke in November.

In a press conference at the parliament, the Aberdeen Donside MSP “apologised profusely and sincerely for any upset I have caused”.

“I’m coming back to do the job that I was elected to do on behalf of my constituents, to represent their interests,” he added.

“I’m here to keep my head down…I’m not here to cause any upset or antagonism.”

Mr McDonald resigned from the SNP last week following a party investigation, but has returned to Holyrood as an independent MSP.

He has faced repeated calls to step down altogether and some Courier Country MSPs have said they would refuse to engage in debate with him in the chamber.

Willie Rennie, the Scottish Liberal Democrat leader who has called on Mr McDonald to resign, said he would not take interventions from him in parliament.

MSPs have discretion during their speeches in the chamber over whether to accept contributions from other members, which are called interventions and are vital for ensuring open debate.

However, his Lib Dem colleague Mike Rumbles, the North East MSP, said he thinks it would break Holyrood rules to treat the ex-childcare minister differently from other MSPs.

Mr Rumbles said: “I always try to take interventions in the chamber if I think they will be relevant to the debate and I have time to do so.

“To treat Mr McDonald otherwise would be in my opinion to break the MSPs code of conduct.”

Murdo Fraser, the Perthshire-based MSP for the Tories, said Mr McDonald must resign.

“I don’t expect to see Mark in the chamber anytime soon, but if he does turn up I can’t imagine a single MSP that would take an intervention from him and that includes me,” he said.

Alexander Stewart, a Tory who represents Mid-Scotland and Fife, said: “The SNP probe into the matter gave its findings and he decided to go. Therefore he should to the honourable thing and stand down as an MSP.”

The SNP investigation found that Mr McDonald sent “inappropriate and unwanted” messages through text and social media to complainants, causing them distress.

His behaviour was “persistent” and involved an exploitation of power, it concluded.

SNP MSP James Dornan has lodged a formal complaint with the Scottish Parliament over Mr McDonald’s return, which details the ordeal suffered by a female member of staff.

Holyrood’s standards committee is to decide on what steps to take on Thursday.