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Holyrood sexual harassment helpline receives four calls

The service began on Monday to help victims of misconduct get support and advice.

Holyrood: Harassment has been the focus of debate at the parliament recently.
Holyrood: Harassment has been the focus of debate at the parliament recently.

A helpline to report harassment and sexual misconduct at the Scottish Parliament has received four calls since it was set up on Monday.

The helpline was established in the wake of the scandal that erupted at Westminster but soon led to the resignation of a Scottish Government minister.

Mark McDonald left his job as childcare and early years minister over what STV News understands was an inappropriate text message.

He said his behaviour may have made people "feel uncomfortable" when he believed he was merely being "humorous or attempting to be friendly".

A spokesman for the Scottish Parliament confirmed that as of 5pm on Wednesday, the helpline had received four calls.

The official would not be drawn on the nature of behaviour that led to the calls or anything further beyond the number of contacts "at this stage".

Anyone who works at the Scottish Parliament can call the helpline between 9am to 5pm on weekdays.

Earlier on Thursday, the First Minister defended McDonald's decision to remain as an MSP despite his resignation from the Scottish Government.

McDonald has not returned to Holyrood since his resignation.

When questioned by Labour MSP Jackie Baillie on the issue, Sturgeon said: "He came to the conclusion that that behaviour - whatever he might have thought of it at the time - was not appropriate and, in my view, he did the right thing in resigning.

"I want to be clear that that behaviour was to do with language and not physical conduct.

"Although I think that it justified the step that Mark McDonald took, I want to make it clear that it was not language that would come anywhere close to requiring to be referred to the police. That context is important."

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