THE sex scandal engulfing British politics darkened yesterday as the former Welsh children’s minister killed himself and Nicola Sturgeon defended his Holyrood counterpart.

Carl Sergeant, 49, was found dead just four days after being dismissed over allegations from a number of women about his personal conduct.

The Labour Assembly Member for Alyn and Deeside was married with two children. His family said they were “devastated beyond words”.

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Meanwhile, speculation continued to mount about the political future of the SNP’s Mark McDonald, who resigned as Scotland’s children’s minister on Saturday.

Mr McDonald, who admitted “inappropriate” previous behaviour, has so far failed to return to the Scottish Parliament or his Aberdeen Donside constituency office.

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The Scottish Conservatives said the SNP already faced criticism "for being so evasive on this potentially serious matter", with no details made public about the nature of the allegations.

A Tory spokesman added: “The public don’t understand how a minister could suddenly resign in the way he did, and for the SNP to expect everyone else to fill in the blanks.

“Mark McDonald going into hiding is hardly helping things.”

After naming the Highlands and Islands MSP Maree Todd as his replacement, the First Minister defended Mr McDonald.

She said he had resigned over behaviour “some others may well have thought was not serious enough to resign” over.

Questioned over the suitability of Mr McDonald continuing as an MSP but not a minister, Ms Sturgeon said he had "done the right thing and taken responsibility", adding: "He's a good MSP and he will continue to be so."

She added: "He has reflected on his behaviour having had things brought to his attention, aspects of his behaviour that he thought was humorous or friendly he now knows made certain women feel uncomfortable. He's done the right thing by taking responsibility for that.

"I'm not going to say any more about the detail of that because as well as Mark's position, these situations of course involve the privacy and confidentiality of women and if we are to encourage women to come forward and raise concerns then it's important that they know their privacy will be respected."

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An SNP spokesman said: “Mark McDonald will be returning to parliament shortly and is continuing to serve his constituents in Aberdeen Donside.”

It is understood the MSP’s Aberdeen constituency office will reopen later this week, after it was temporarily shut amid ongoing media interest.

A senior SNP source said he hoped Mr McDonald would be able to return as a minister in the future.

Meanwhile, Mr Sergeant’s death sparked an outpouring of tributes from political figures in Wales and beyond.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the news was "terrible and deeply shocking", insisting it was important that everyone caught up in allegations of impropriety received proper pastoral support.

Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones, who sacked Mr Sargeant on November 3, said he was "shocked and deeply saddened".

Police were called to Mr Sargeant’s home in north Wales yesterday morning following a report that a body had been found.

In a statement his family said: "Carl was a much loved husband, father and friend. He wasn't simply a part of our family.

"He was the glue that bound us together. He was the heart of our family. We loved him so very much.

"He was the most kind and caring husband, father, son and friend.

"We are devastated beyond words, and we know our grief will be shared by all those who knew and loved him. We are in shock and grief."

Family members were yesterday seen hugging each other on the drive of Mr Sargeant's mid-terrace former council house, round the corner from the school where his wife Bernie, 48, works as a teaching assistant.

Fellow Labour Party representative Bernie Attridge wiped away tears as he paid tribute to a man he had known since childhood.

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Mr Attridge, 46, the deputy leader of Flintshire County Council, said: "I'm absolutely distraught. He was a personal friend of mine. I've known Carl all my life. We've grown up together in Connah's Quay.

"Today I find myself in very dark days. It's such a sad loss of such a great friend of mine. My heartfelt thoughts are with Bernadette his wife, Jack his son and Lucy his daughter.

"At the end of the day allegations were made, I'm a great believer you are innocent until proven guilty.

"I don't know the details of the suspension, I know he's a very loyal man."

Mr Attridge said Mr Sargeant worked as an industrial firefighter at a local factory and became a member of Connah's Quay town council as his political career began.

He added: "He was an excellent constituent Assembly Member, nothing was too much trouble for him. Even when we were out in here enjoying ourselves, having private time on a Saturday night, on many occasions if anyone had any issues Carl was first on the scene. He fought hard for Alyn and Deeside."