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Chamber and committees

Meeting date: Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Meeting of the Parliament 27 June 2018

Agenda: Agriculture (Culture and Heritage Value), Portfolio Question Time, Homelessness, Prescription (Scotland) Bill: Stage 1, Complaint Against Mark McDonald MSP, Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body Motion, Business Motions, Parliamentary Bureau Motions, Point of Order, Decision Time, National Health Service at 70


Contents


Complaint Against Mark McDonald MSP

The Presiding Officer (Ken Macintosh)

The next item of business is consideration of motion S5M-12943, in the name of Clare Haughey, on the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee’s fifth report in 2018, “Complaint against Mark McDonald MSP”. I call Patrick Harvie to speak to and move the motion on behalf of the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee.

16:26  

Patrick Harvie (Glasgow) (Green)

The Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee has considered and reported on a complaint from James Dornan MSP about Mark McDonald MSP. The complaint related to the conduct of Mark McDonald towards a member of James Dornan’s staff.

In examining information relating to the complaint, the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland was made aware of Mark McDonald’s conduct towards another staff member and decided that that was relevant to the complaint under consideration.

The commissioner investigated the complaint and concluded that Mark McDonald failed to treat one staff member with respect and that his conduct towards her involved sexual harassment; that he also failed to treat a second staff member with respect; and that both behaviours were in breach of the code of conduct for members of the Scottish Parliament.

The committee’s deliberations are set out in the committee’s report. Details of the investigation by the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland can be found in the report’s annexes.

The committee unanimously endorsed the commissioner’s conclusions and we consider that the breaches justify the imposition of sanctions on Mark McDonald. The committee looked at the full range of sanctions available to the Parliament and agreed that any sanction should send a clear signal about the seriousness of Mark McDonald’s conduct but should not have a financial impact on his staff nor unduly impact on his ability to represent his constituents.

Before I move the motion on behalf of the committee, I want to comment on the confidentiality requirements in the complaints process, which are a requirement of the code of conduct for MSPs.

We previously expressed our disappointment that details of the complaint were shared with the media by James Dornan MSP. To make matters worse, following the commissioner’s investigation and before the report had been distributed to the committee, it appears that the report’s findings were shared with the media.

We consider it unacceptable that the confidentiality requirements have been flouted more than once during the course of this complaint. That is disrespectful to the process, to the staff members involved and to the committee and the Parliament. Proper processes must be observed to ensure a robust outcome. The commissioner and the committee must be able to carry out their work without external interference. The committee intends to look into the breaches of confidentiality in due course.

In conclusion, the committee recommends that the Parliament: excludes Mark McDonald from proceedings of the Parliament for a period of one month, to take place from 3 September to 2 October 2018 inclusive; withdraws his salary for a period of one month to coincide with his exclusion from proceedings of the Parliament; withdraws his right of access as a member to the Holyrood parliamentary complex for the period of one month to coincide with his exclusion from the proceedings of the Parliament; and withdraws his rights to any representational, ceremonial and related privileges until dissolution.

On behalf of the committee, I move,

That the Parliament notes the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee’s 5th Report, 2018 (Session 5), Complaint against Mark McDonald MSP (SP Paper 362), and agrees to impose the sanctions recommended in the report that the Parliament excludes Mark McDonald from proceedings of the Parliament for a period of one month, to take place from 3 September to 2 October 2018 inclusive; withdraws his salary for a period of one month to coincide with his exclusion from proceedings of the Parliament; withdraws his right of access as a Member to the Holyrood Parliamentary complex for the period of one month to coincide with his exclusion from the proceedings of the Parliament, and withdraws his rights to any representational, ceremonial and related privileges until dissolution.

The Presiding Officer

Thank you, Mr Harvie. The question on the motion will be put at decision time.