Mark McDonald says he is 'morally justified' in returning to Holyrood

Shamed former SNP MSP Mark McDonald has insisted his return to Holyrood is "morally justified" despite admitting inappropriate behaviour towards women.

Mr McDonald intends to sit as an independent MSP, adding that a by-election campaign would not be the way to demonstrate he has changed.

Pressure has been mounting on the married father of two to step down from his Aberdeen Donside seat, with a former SNP colleague expected to make an official complaint to the parliamentary authorities on Monday.

First Minister and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has urged the MSP to leave Holyrood.

Mr McDonald quit the SNP and apologised last week after an internal investigation into allegations made by three women identified "persistent" behaviour including inappropriate and unwanted text messages, unwanted attention and exploiting his position of power.

He resigned as childcare minister when the allegations first emerged in November.

Asked on BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme if he was "morally justified" in staying on as an independent MSP, Mr McDonald said: "Morally I can justify it because, as I have said, my approach to this has been to own the mistakes that I have made but to demonstrate that I have learned from them and that I am capable of changing as a result of those.

"I am asking people to afford me that opportunity, and I hope that people will do that.

"I accept that many relationships are going to have to be rebuilt - some people will want nothing to do with me and I have to regretfully accept that, but there are some people who I think will want to offer me that opportunity to demonstrate that I've learned from this and that I've changed."

He added: "I want to be able to demonstrate that my behaviour has changed and I am not sure that doing that through a by-election campaign is the appropriate way to do it."

Several politicians have said Mr McDonald should quit his seat, while SNP MSP James Dornan said he would make a complaint to the Scottish Parliament's authorities.

He told the Sunday Mail newspaper: "He should certainly never set foot in the Scottish Parliament again and I will be making an official complaint on Monday to the parliamentary authorities to ask for his removal from the parliament to be considered."

Meanwhile, Economy Secretary Keith Brown became the latest senior SNP member to call for Mr McDonald to go.

He told Good Morning Scotland: "I think the position is if you concede the point that you have acted inappropriately and you think that has been sufficiently bad that you have to resign as an SNP MSP, I think the logic of that means that you should resign as an MSP as well."