THE SNP leader of one of Scotland’s biggest councils has resigned after being accused of sexual misconduct, expressing regret at his behaviour and citing concern for his own mental health.

Jordan Linden, who became the £45,000 head of North Lanarkshire just two months ago, admitted he caused another man “discomfort” in 2019.

It followed the Sunday Mail reporting Cllr Linden had been accused of making unwanted sexual advances while drunk to the young activist at a party in Dundee after a gay Pride march.

The SNP tried to stifle the story by telling other media outlets it would be making a complaint to the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) about "flaws" in the Sunday Mail's coverage.

Cllr Linden, 27, the cousin of Glasgow East SNP MP David Linden and a former chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament, had been due to confront his fellow SNP councillors about the claim this afternoon.

He also faced a no confidence vote brought by the Labour opposition group.

However just after 2pm he announced he was standing down as leader, but  intended to carry on a councillor for Bellshill.

In a statement released by the SNP, he said: “I want to make colleagues aware that I am resigning from my position as Leader of North Lanarkshire Council today.

"Although I have never approached any personal interaction with ill intent, I accept that my behaviour at that party in 2019 caused a sense of discomfort which I entirely regret. 

“I offered my apologies to the person concerned at the time and the matter was closed.

"I reiterate that apology today. And in all that’s been said in recent days, the empathetic words from that individual have given me the most reassurance.

“The recent press coverage of this has placed an immense strain on me personally. 

“My mental health and wellbeing is being seriously affected, and the impact it is having is profound. 

"This is foremost in my consideration about my future, as well as the interests of my partner, family and those closest to me. 

“By resigning, I hope to be allowed the space to get my mental health back in balance.

“I have no wish for my personal circumstances to overshadow the work of the political administration of the council as it implements the manifesto on which it was elected in May. 

“The council carries out extremely important work every day for people across the whole of North Lanarkshire and it is vital that there is no distraction, particularly at a time when many of the people we represent face unprecedented cost of living pressures and daily challenges.”

He added: “It has been the privilege of my life to serve in this role, and I remain proud that I was able to lead the Scottish National Party to administration in North Lanarkshire for the first time. 

“I intend to continue to represent the people of Bellshill to the very best of my ability as a councillor, as I have done since first being elected in 2017.

"The privilege of representing my home town continues to be incredibly special to me.” 

Cllr Linden's resignation is unlikely to be the end of the matter, either on the council or for the SNP.

Labour are now expected to push for Cllr Linden to stand down as a councillor in a bid to regain control of the council through a byelection.

The SNP currently has 36 of the 77 seats in North Lanarkshire, Labour have 32, the Tories five, there are two independents and one British Unionist.

If Labour picked up one more in a byelection, they could govern as a minority with the support of the Tories and British Unionist.

The SNP is also facing fresh questions over its vetting processes and why Cllr Linden was allowed to become a council leader despite SNP HQ being aware of the allegation against him.

The Sunday Mail reported SNP HQ compliance officer Ian McCann was informed of the claim against Cllr Linden shortly after the Dundee party and tried to reach out to the alleged victim.

However, in a now familiar pattern, the matter came to nothing as no formal complaint was lodged.

Last month, Nicola Sturgeon was forced to apologise to the victim of former SNP MP Patrick Grady, who made unwanted sexual advances to a party staffer while drunk in 2016.

Tory MSP Annie Wells said: “Jordan Linden’s resignation and apology are at least a partial acknowledgement of the distress he caused and his responsibility for it. That is more than other SNP members have done in similar cases.

“But the issue here was never just about Mr Linden’s misconduct, but about the SNP’s reluctance to deal with serious allegations against senior party figures.

“In this case, as in the Patrick Grady one, the party closed ranks and evaded questioning.

“Above all, they sided once again with the perpetrator, rather than offer support to the victim. The SNP must finally address the appalling way in which they handle cases of abuse and harassment within their ranks, and fundamentally change their culture to safeguard complainants.” 

Labour MSP Neil Bibby said: “This resignation was the right thing to do, but it doesn’t fix the rotten culture of secrecy and cover-up at the heart of the SNP.

“His apology makes it all the more appalling that the SNP hierarchy were so willing to close ranks to protect him.

“The SNP cannot keep looking the other way and letting their scandal-hit politicians call the shots.

“Their own activists have made it clear that they don’t have faith in the party’s complaints system – but the SNP are treating these concerns with outright contempt.

“The SNP need to start listening to their own members and overhaul this broken system, so that it protects victims instead of protecting the party.”

An SNP spokesperson said: “The individual made clear to the SNP that the matter was resolved, and he would not be making a complaint." 

A council spokesperson said: "We can confirm that the chief executive has received a letter from Councillor Jordan Linden resigning his role as leader of the council.

"A new leader will be elected at a meeting of the council to be held in due course."