A SENIOR Tory has described Mark McDonald’s resignation as the “most depressing ministerial resignation” in Holyrood’s history as his party backed the appointment of Maree Todd to replace the former childcare minister.

Jackson Carlaw, the Conservative deputy leader, later said the nature of the resignation meant it was “depressing” for politics and Parliament, adding he was still unclear what the specific actions were which led to the resignation.

His comments came as sexual harassment allegations and their fallout continue to grip politics north and south of the Border.

Hailing Todd as an “effective and passionate” MSP, Carlaw told the chamber: “The circumstances attending this ministerial resignation do not require editorial comment from me in the chamber this afternoon.

“I note only – on behalf, I hope, of us all – that this is the most depressing ministerial resignation in our relatively short history.

“I thank the former minister for his service and note, in particular, the focus that he brought with real passion and feeling to the issues of children with autism. I thought that he did a commendable job in that regard.

“We welcome the appointment of Maree Todd, a new member in 2016. She has worked hard in the chamber and has built a reputation across the parties as an effective and passionate MSP.

“I hope that those qualities will be reflected in her career as a minister, which we will all watch with interest.”

Speaking moments earlier in the chamber, Nicola Sturgeon said: “Mark’s departure was not in a manner that anyone would have wished, but it was the right decision” before praising Todd’s “well-deserved reputation for diligence and hard work”.

McDonald stood down on Saturday over actions which he said were considered “inappropriate”.

An unnamed woman who was sent “inappropriate” messages by the SNP MSP for Aberdeen Donside, came forward yesterday saying she took action because she believed “people have to change”.

She told a regional newspaper: “The bottom line in this is there’s no point in people coming forward if people don’t change. People have to change in the future. Apologies are all well and good but if it doesn’t change how people act. That’s why people have come forward. People don’t want this. I don’t want it.”

The paper reported the minister resigned following a complaint about a suggestive text message he had sent which included a reference to a sex act.

The First Minister faced renewed questions after she backed McDonald continuing as an MSP for Aberdeen Donside. Opponents said the SNP’s lack of transparency over the nature of the allegations sent “an awful message”.

A spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives said: “The longer this saga drags on, the more difficult the public will find it to accept Nicola Sturgeon’s knee-jerk explanation.

“Understandably, they wonder how it can be fine for him to continue as an MSP, but not fine for him to be a junior government minister.”

The First Minister previously told Holyrood McDonald had resigned over behaviour “some others may well have thought was not serious enough to resign”.

She added: “He’s a good MSP and he will continue to be so.”

Meanwhile, the family of former Welsh Assembly member Carl Sargeant has released correspondence indicating he was facing allegations of “unwanted attention, inappropriate touching or groping” at the time of his death.

The family confirmed the Labour politician was unaware of the exact details of the allegations at the time of his death, and said his distress at being unable to defend himself properly meant he was not afforded “common courtesy, decency or natural justice”. Sargeant is understood to have taken his own life four days after being sacked from his role as communities and children secretary in the Welsh Government.

In a letter sent to Labour on Monday, Sargeant’s solicitor made clear the Alyn & Deeside AM “categorically denied” any wrongdoing and noted the party had confirmed no “parallel investigations” – such as a police inquiry – were being conducted.