NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Row as 'sexting' MSP gets £7,000 golden goodbye

Mark McDonald Image copyright Scottish government
Image caption Mark McDonald was suspended by the SNP

MSPs are calling for a reform of Holyrood payments after discovering a former minister is in line for a golden goodbye of more than £7,000.

Mark McDonald resigned as childcare minister in November after reports he sent a text message to a woman which included a reference to a sex act.

The MSP is entitled to a resettlement grant of £7,270 - a quarter of his ministerial salary.

Some MSPs now want an overhaul of the resettlement grants scheme.

The payment comes into force 90 days after resignation, as stipulated in the Scottish Parliamentary Pensions Act 2009.

Scottish Conservative deputy chief whip Alexander Burnett called for the resettlement grants scheme to be overhauled.

He said: "It's clearly wrong that Mark McDonald should pocket this payment considering the circumstances of his departure.

'Shameful circumstances'

"We've been here before when it comes to controversial pay-offs for MSPs who've faced questions over their conduct.

"It's important we look at these processes again to ensure this isn't repeated.

"The public's view of the parliament as a whole would worsen otherwise."

Labour MSP Rhoda Grant said "This is simply unacceptable.

"It cannot be right that a minister who has resigned in such shameful circumstances has effectively received a bonus from the taxpayer.

"If Mark McDonald has received this money, he must immediately return it - or, if that is not possible, donate it to a charity such as Women's Aid.

"The Scottish Parliament must also urgently review the law which allows this money to be given and appropriately reform it to avoid such circumstances in the future."

Following his resignation as a minister, the Aberdeen Donside MSP was suspended by the SNP after further allegations surfaced about his conduct.

A spokesman for the SNP said: "Mr McDonald is currently suspended from the SNP. An independent investigation is ongoing and it would be inappropriate to comment further."

A Scottish Parliamentary spokeswoman said: "Any change to the Scottish Parliamentary Pensions Act 2009 would ultimately be a matter for all MSPs."

Mr McDonald could not be contacted.

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