The SNP has suspended its Dunfermline MSP following allegations of domestic abuse.
Bill Walker, 71, was suspended from both the party and the parliamentary group after reports concerning his three former wives.
The situation is now to be investigated by the party, which has pointed to the fact that no information about the allegations was declared when Mr Walker – a councillor for West Fife – stood in the last election.
“The SNP’s rules are very clear, and provide for decisive but fair action,” said Alex Salmond. “The correct action has been taken by the national secretary, in consultation with me as party leader, of suspending Bill Walker from the SNP and the parliamentary group pending a full investigation of the facts and circumstances.”
He added: “The SNP’s strongly held position is zero tolerance of violence against women. The information was not reported in Mr Walker’s candidate process as it should have been, and the right course of action has been taken.”
The allegations relate to a time period spanning the late 1960s to the early 1990s.
A statement released by Mr Walker in response to the allegations refuted the claims, but said he had “regret” over certain incidents during the break-up of his three previous marriages.
“There are two sides to every story and I dispute almost entirely all the allegations that have been made against me,” he said. “That is not to say that I do not greatly regret individual occasions during the break-up of my marriages.”
He added: “These relationships ended some considerable time ago and, not least for the sake of my children and wider family, I do not intend to reply these disputes publicly. My support for organisations assisting women stems from my recognition of the difficulties in some marriages and relationships.”