Sexual assault Aberdeen councillor Alan Donnelly vows to stand again

By David Shanks
BBC Scotland reporter

image captionAlan Donnelly was convicted in 2019

An Aberdeen councillor convicted of sexual assault has vowed to carry on and then stand again.

Former Conservative Alan Donnelly was found guilty in 2019 and placed on the sex offenders register.

The former depute provost resigned from the Tories but has resisted calls to stand down from the council. His suspension is lifted on 4 March.

In his first interview about the incident, Donnelly told BBC Scotland News he would not resign.

Despite cross party calls for him to quit, he said: "I was elected for five years in 2017 and intend to see that out."

A Standards Commission panel ruled in November his behaviour was "wholly inappropriate".

His suspension was backdated to March to cover an interim suspension that was imposed.

Donnelly continued to receive his full pay.

During the trial, he had denied kissing and touching a man who was working at an event in the city.

However, he was found guilty and ordered to pay compensation.

'Not a risk'

Speaking ahead of his suspension ending next Thursday - meaning he can take part in meetings again where the leading Labour and Conservative administration will count on his vote - 66-year-old Donnelly said: "Well I plan to get on with the rest of my life.

"I have been convicted, I honestly believe I have been the subject of a miscarriage of justice. It has been a very challenging time.

"There is nothing in the legislation that says I should resign."

Pressed on why he had not stepped down, he said: "I would not submit to being hounded out of office, witch-hunted out of office by people who know nothing about the circumstances.

"I do not pose a risk to my constituents, I have 41 years in public life.

"I have no intentions of resigning."

'Simply indefensible'

He added: "I intend to stand again."

Donnelly was previously part of the ruling administration.

SNP opposition group leader Alex Nicoll said of Donnelly's stance: "I think it sends completely the wrong message of Aberdeen being an open and transparent council.

"He has committed a very serious offence here, and the simple answer is he should no longer be in public office. And trying to defend that position is simply indefensible."

Aberdeen City Council co-leader Douglas Lumsden told the hearing in November he had been invited to the 2018 event where the offence in question happened.

However, when he realised he was unable to attend, he asked Donnelly to go instead in his place.

Panel chairwoman Ashleigh Dunn said members had ruled he had breached the code of conduct.

She said he had been convicted of sexual assault, and it could be reasonably perceived he was at the event acting as a councillor.

She said the panel did not consider censure was appropriate, but neither was disqualification - on the basis it appeared to be "a one-off" incident and Donnelly had never before been referred before - so the ruling was a maximum suspension of one year.

More on this story