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Scottish junior minister resigns over 'inappropriate behaviour'

Last week, the UK’s defence secretary resigned following accusations of inappropriate behaviour against two journalists.

Scottish Minister Mark McDonald.
Scottish Minister Mark McDonald.
Image: PA Wire/PA Images

A JUNIOR MINISTER in Scotland’s government resigned yesterday after admitting “inappropriate behaviour” after harassment allegations were levelled at some British politicians this week.

Childcare minister Mark McDonald said in a statement that he apologised “unreservedly to anyone I have upset or who might have found my behaviour inappropriate”.

“Some of my previous actions have been considered to be inappropriate – where I have believed myself to have been merely humorous or attempting to be friendly, my behaviour might have made others uncomfortable or led them to question my intentions,” he said.

A government spokesman confirmed McDonald had tendered his resignation to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon earlier yesterday.

He is expected to remain a lawmaker in the Scottish parliament, representing Sturgeon’s Scottish National Party in Aberdeen.

Several claims of harassment and abuse have emerged against British politicians in the wake of the allegations by dozens of women against Hollywood tycoon Harvey Weinstein, which has already led to the resignation of one government minister.

Sir Michael Fallon

On Wednesday, Michael Fallon resigned as defence secretary, saying his behaviour in the past had “fallen below the high standards” expected of the role.

He had previously apologised for touching a journalist’s knee 15 years ago.

Another journalist alleged late last night that Fallon “lunged” at her, trying to kiss her, after a lunch in 2003.

“We gossiped about rising Tory stars David Cameron and George Osborne. We drank wine – a couple of glasses at most.

On the walk back to parliament, we had to cut through a quiet ante-room just off Westminster Hall before going to our offices. It was here that Fallon lunged at me. This was not a farewell peck on the cheek, but a direct lunge at my lips.

Jane Merrick, who was a 29-year-old junior political reporter at the time, wrote in The Observer she did not report him because she “feared making enemies”.

But after other allegations emerged, she informed May’s Downing Street office of what happened – and less than three hours later, he resigned.

Two other ministers are under investigation for allegations of impropriety, while the opposition Labour party is also investigating the behaviour of a number of its lawmakers.

Labour’s foreign affairs spokeswoman, Emily Thornberry, told the BBC: ”Some of the things that I have heard in the last week have been so disgusting and I am ashamed that this could happen in the Labour party.”

© – AFP 2017, with reporting from Gráinne Ní Aodha 

Read: Conservative MP suspended after ‘serious allegations referred to police’

Read: UK police are investigating sexual assault claims against Kevin Spacey

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