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Opponents demand explanation for Steven Purcell’s departure

PinkNews Staff Writer March 8, 2010

Political opponents of gay former Glasgow council leader Steven Purcell have demanded full disclosure of the circumstances surrounding his departure.

Mr Purcell, 37, unexpectedly quit the council leadership and his job as a councillor last week citing extreme stress.

Since then, there has been a steady stream of revelations in the media about why he quit.

Reports said his taxpayer-funded media team wanted to cite a “chemical dependency” in his resignation statement but Mr Purcell refused at the last minute to allow this phrase to be included and hired his own spokesman instead.

He spent several days at a private hospital specialising in drug and alcohol dependency and it was claimed that a search was launched when he disappeared on Sunday night. He was said to have returned in wet clothes, leading to speculation he had attempted to drown himself.

Mr Purcell was questioned by police officers from the Scottish Crime and Drugs Enforcement agency last May and other reports said he had admitted to cocaine use in the past.

His psychiatrist said he was not being treated for drug problems.

There have also been suggestions he was at risk from blackmail.

Today, SNP MP John Mason, for Glasgow East, said questions needed to be answered.

He told BBC Radio Scotland: “We’re spending £2 billion within Glasgow city council. It’s a lot of money and there’s a question over was decision-making being made correctly?

“If there’s suggestions of blackmail then… was pressure being put on for certain decisions to be made in certain ways?”

Glasgow Tory councillor David Meikle told the Scotsman that acting council leader James Coleman must give out more information.

He said: “The latest news is that apparently Steven Purcell has fled the country to escape the fall-out from the revelations, but he has failed to make any public statement or answer any questions about the bizarre circumstances leading up to his resignation. Instead, all comment has been made by his lawyers.”

Mr Purcell is thought to be abroad. His spokesman said he was “resting and recuperating in the sun”.

One of his friends, Danus McKinlay, died of a suspected heart attack in the street outside City Chambers on Friday.

McKinlay, 18, was being groomed as a Labour council candidate. He reportedly suffered from asthma and diabetes.

More: Scotland

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