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Aberdeen’s Deputy Lord Provost questions use of word “attack” to describe disgraced councillor’s crime

Friday February 14th 2020 at 7:00 AM

Aberdeen’s Deputy Lord Provost, who yesterday put her head above the parapet to defend disgraced councillor Alan Donnelly, has now cast doubt over his conviction.

Jennifer Stewart has accused opposition parties of a “witch hunt” to remove Alan Donnelly

Jennifer Stewart told Original 106 News that, in her eyes, her predecessor’s crime was not “an attack”.

Donnelly has so far resisted all-party calls for his resignation as a councillor for his sexual assault but is under investigation by the ethical standards commissioner.

Ms Stewart said: “I would wonder if it was an attack. To me an attack is a much more physical and aggressive thing and I’m not aware that that’s what it was.

“Sentence has been passed and obviously that’s what the judge has said and I respect that.

“I’m just saying that other councillors have no right to go on a witch hunt to try and get rid of someone – I think that’s fundamentally wrong. 

“If Alan chooses to go then that’s his choice and I’ve had no discussions with him on it.

“I’m just relating it to my experience and how shamefully I was treated across the board and still continue to be by many people.”

Last month, Donnelly was stripped of his position as depute provost and resigned from the Conservative party after he was found guilty of sexually assaulting a man at a function.

He has been ordered to pay £800, placed on the sex offenders register and will be supervised by the council’s social work department for eight months.

Ms Stewart came under fire yesterday for her appearance on the Good Morning Scotland radio programme in which she accused opposition parties of a “witch hunt”.

The former Liberal Democrat, who now sits as an independent, said: “I have suffered at the wrath for three years of what the SNP and the Liberal Democrats have been like at Aberdeen City Council and I know how they will go on their witch hunt, as they did with me.

“That’s what I see is going to happen to Alan. Whether he chooses to remain is his decision – but if they make his life so intolerable and uncomfortable it might be that he chooses to step aside.”

Opposition SNP group leader Alex Nicoll said: “The people of Aberdeen, the people of Scotland will think that is the right thing that should be happening.

“He should be resigning and leaving office now.”

Liberal Democrat group leader Ian Yuill said: “The Liberal Democrats believe there is no place on Aberdeen City Council for a convicted sex offender.

“Councillor Donnelly should have resigned the day he was convicted, or when the urgent business committee unanimously called for him to go and he should certainly resign today.

“There is no witch hunt. This is about what is best for Aberdeen, it’s citizens and the staff of the council.”

The ethics body alone has the power to remove Donnelly from elected office.

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