Scottish Labour faced fresh turmoil today when its interim leader quit just three days before a permanent replacement for Kezia Dugdale is announced.
Alex Rowley “stood aside” following claims about his private life in a newspaper this morning and now faces an investigation.
The Scottish Sun printed allegations from a former partner that he sent her abusive text messages and behaved in a bullying manner.
Today Rowley said in a statement to the BBC: “I totally refute these allegations and will take all steps necessary to clear my name.
“These allegations must be properly and thoroughly investigated in line with our party’s procedures – and I will refer myself to the party so such an investigation can take place.
“While that investigation is carried out, I will step aside as deputy leader, as well as interim leader, of the Scottish Labour Party.”
The party issued a brief statement in which it said: “Alex Rowley has stood aside as interim and deputy leader of Scottish Labour and referred himself to the party’s internal complaints procedure regarding allegations made against him.”
Anas Sarwar and Richard Leonard, both MSPs, are battling it out in the race to succeed Dugdale, who quit suddenly this summer.
Leonard, who has won backing from a series of trade unions, is the favourite. Ballots close on Friday and the winner will be announced the next day.