A WOMAN is to replace the disgraced the former SNP minister who quit over sleaze.

Nicola Sturgeon named Maree Todd as the new minister for Childcare and Early Years.

The Highlands & Islands MSP replaces Mark McDonald, who resigned on Saturday night after admitting “inappropriate” previous behaviour.

Both the SNP and Mr McDonald have refused to explain exactly why Mr McDonald quit.

However it was reported today that a female colleague recently complained he made an offensive comment several months ago.

The married father of two has not been seen in his Aberdeen Donside constituency office or the Scottish Parliament since he left the government.

When the MSP block at Holyrood was evacuated because of suspicious packages on Tuesday morning, he was conspicuously absent from the throng of people displaced to the garden lobby.

Subject to a ratification by MSPs tomorrow, Ms Todd, a former NHS mental health pharmacist, will begin to undertake some Ministerial duties immediately.

The First Minister said: “I am really pleased that Maree has agreed to take up the post of Minister for Childcare and Early Years.

“Improving the life chances of children and young people is at the heart of this Government’s agenda, so this is a crucial post. We want to make Scotland the best place in the world to grow up and are taking forward a range of actions to achieve this.

“The importance of early years development simply cannot be overstated, which is why my government is putting so much emphasis on doing all we can to ensure youngsters across Scotland can reach their full potential.

“I know that Maree is passionate about this work and I look forward to seeing her lead this agenda.”

Ms Todd said: “I am honoured to be asked to carry out this important role. The early years are so crucial in shaping Scotland’s next generation.

“A lot of great work has already been done and I am really looking forward to continuing to take forward policies like the Baby Box, the commitment to almost doubling entitlement to free early learning and childcare hours and leading celebrations for the Year of Young People 2018.

“I am relishing getting started and helping make a difference to the lives of all children in Scotland.”