Shamed former minister Mark McDonald should be suspended from the Scottish Parliament without pay for one month, Holyrood’s Standards Committee has recommended.
The committee announced the proposed sanction after considering a report by the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life, which was asked to investigate Mr McDonald’s conduct after SNP MSP James Dornan made an official complaint in March.
Committee convener Clare Haughey said the committee agreed with the findings of the commissioner that Mr McDonald breached the code of conduct for MSPs by failing to treat one woman with respect and that his conduct towards her “involved sexual harassment”.
She said the committee also agreed with the finding that he had failed to treat a second witness with respect “in relation to a financial matter”.
Ms Haughey said the committee was recommending that Mr McDonald be excluded from proceedings of the Parliament for a month with his salary withdrawn during that period.
He should also be banned from the parliamentary complex during that time and have “rights to any representational, ceremonial and related privileges” withdrawn, the committee said.
Before the recommended sanctions can be applied they will need to be agreed by the full Parliament through a motion in the chamber.
The Aberdeen Donside MSP quit his ministerial role and the SNP after admitting inappropriate behaviour towards women.
An internal SNP investigation identified “persistent” behaviour by Mr McDonald including inappropriate and unwanted text messages, unwanted attention and exploiting his position of power.
The married father-of-two resigned as childcare minister when the allegations first emerged last November and later apologised for his behaviour towards two women.
Mr Dornan had objected to his return to work as an independent MSP, stating that his presence would be a “clear negation” of the duty of care the Scottish Parliament has to its staff, and making further allegations about his behaviour towards a member of staff.
In her statement Ms Haughey criticised Mr Dornan’s decision to share details of his complaint with the media.
She said: “We consider it unacceptable that the confidentiality requirements have been flouted more than once during the course of this complaint.
“This is disrespectful to the process and those involved, as well as to the Committee and the Parliament.
“Today’s decision relates solely to the complaint regarding Mark McDonald, but the committee will return to the issue of confidentiality.”
Following the ruling, Mr McDonald release a statement and a screenshot of the social media message he sent to the female staffer.
Full details of the commissioner’s report are due to be released later today.