NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Sexual assault councillor case 'must not become a witch hunt'

Alan Donnelly
Image caption Alan Donnelly has resisted calls to quit as a councillor

Calls for an Aberdeen councillor found guilty of sexual assault to resign must not become a "witch hunt", it has been claimed.

Former Conservative Alan Donnelly had denied kissing and touching a man who was working at an event in the city.

He was ordered to pay compensation, but has resisted calls to stand down as well as saying he will not hide.

Administration councillor Marie Boulton said she did not condone his crime, but that "harassment" had to be avoided.

A three-day trial heard one of the victim's supervisors say he was "trembling and shaking" when he reported the incident to her.

The man - who cannot be named for legal reasons - said Donnelly approached him, made comments about him being good-looking, and asked him questions about where he was from.

A witness told Aberdeen Sheriff Court that her co-worker said he had felt like he was "sexually abused".

Defence lawyer David Sutherland said his client's position was the allegations did not take place, and denied any impropriety.

Sheriff Ian Wallace described the evidence as "overwhelming".

'Very challenging'

After being found guilty of sexual assault in December, the 65-year-old former depute provost was placed on the sex offenders register, resigned from the Scottish Conservatives, and was removed from all council committees.

He was sentenced in January, and speaking outside court at the time said: "I have got a lot of options to take and consider now.

"It's been a very challenging 15 months for me and I'm going to take some more advice and leave all options open."

Image caption The political make-up of the council is expected to be discussed in March

Donnelly was approached again for comment earlier this week amid calls for him to be banned from attending civic events.

Asked about the situation, he told BBC Scotland if anyone thought he would step back from his duties and "go into hiding" they were "mistaken".

'Get on with business'

He said he was still considering the options open to him following his conviction.

Donnelly was previously part of the ruling Conservative, Labour and independent administration.

Councillor Boulton, an independent member of the administration, said: "What we can't do is start a witch hunt. I think we've to be very careful that we're not seen to advocate bullying or harassment.

"That's in no way condoning what Councillor Donnelly has done and been convicted of but we have to respect the the court's carried out its role, we've carried out our role.

"I think we just have to get on with business for the city."

However, SNP opposition group leader Alex Nicoll said: "I would be very reluctant to attend any civic event that I knew Councillor Donnelly was going to attend."

The political make-up of the council is expected to be discussed at a meeting of the full council in March.

More on this story