The youngest ever Highland councillor dramatically resigned yesterday after it was confirmed that he will appear in court on charges concerning his election expenses.
Alex MacLeod, who was 19 when he won a seat at last year’s council elections, apologised to his Landward Caithness constituents. He earned £16,500 a year as a councillor.
It is understood that Mr MacLeod, now 21, will appear at Inverness Sheriff Court on October 10, on charges under the Representation of the People Act after an investigation into how much he spent in the run-up to the May election.
In a statement, Mr MacLeod, who formerly worked in First Minister Alex Salmond’s office, said he had written to the council’s chief executive Steve Barron to resign.
Mr MacLeod, a former pupil of Gordonstoun and Tain Royal Academy, said: “I have received notice of a charge of electoral misconduct, and I intend to step aside from my council role so that I can work with my solicitor to reach an acceptable solution. I need to be honest about any mistakes that I have made, and face the consequences of my actions.
“I got into this situation when I was very young, with all the arrogance and hot-headedness that entails.
“I feel a redoubtable sense of sorrow and regret for the events which have unfolded. I understand that this news will hurt a great many of my friends, colleagues and supporters. I am truly, very genuinely sorry about that.
“My biggest apology is to the people who voted for me. It is right that they now have the opportunity to elect a new councillor in a by-election.”
Council leader Drew Hendry said he could not comment on the situation last night because of the ongoing legal proceedings.
A Crown Office spokesman said last night: “We received a report concerning a 20-year-old male, in relation to a number of alleged incidents said to have occurred between March 15, 2012, and June 8, 2012. The case is live for the purposes of contempt and it would be inappropriate to comment further.”
Highland Council confirmed last night that a by-election would be held for Mr MacLeod’s seat in the Landward Caithness ward.
A council spokesman: “We can confirm Alex MacLeod has intimated by e-mail his resignation from the council with immediate effect. A by-election must be arranged within three months of his resignation.”