ABERDEEN’S Depute Lord Provost has further defended the actions of her disgraced former Tory predecessor, now casting doubt over his conviction for sexual assault.

Jennifer Stewart told Original 106 News that she did not view councillor Alan Donnelly’s crime as “an attack”.

Stewart replaced Donnelly after he was found guilty of sexually assaulting a man at a function. He was later kicked out of the Tory party, and is now an independent.

She said: “I would wonder if it was an attack. To me, an attack is a much more physical and aggressive thing, and I’m not aware that that’s what it was.

“Sentence has been passed and obviously that’s what the judge has said, and I respect that.

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“I’m just saying that other councillors have no right to go on a witch hunt to try and get rid of someone – I think that’s fundamentally wrong."

The councillor was ordered to pay £800, placed on the sex offenders register and will be monitored by the council’s social work department for eight months.

He has so far ignored calls for his resignation as an elected member in the aftermath of the crime, but is under investigation by the ethical standards commissioner.

On her accusations of a witch hunt taking place, Stewart added: “I’m just relating it to my experience and how shamefully I was treated across the board and still continue to be by many people.

“I have suffered at the wrath for three years of what the SNP and the Liberal Democrats have been like at Aberdeen City Council and I know how they will go on their witch hunt, as they did with me.

“That’s what I see is going to happen to Alan. Whether he chooses to remain is his decision – but if they make his life so intolerable and uncomfortable it might be that he chooses to step aside.”

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The former Liberal Democrat, who now sits as an independent, came under fire yesterday for her “witch hunt” comments on Good Morning Scotland.

SNP group leader Alex Nicoll said: “The people of Aberdeen, the people of Scotland will think that is the right thing that should be happening.

“He should be resigning and leaving office now.”

Ian Yuill, Liberal Democrat group leader, said: “The Liberal Democrats believe there is no place on Aberdeen City Council for a convicted sex offender.

“Councillor Donnelly should have resigned the day he was convicted, or when the urgent business committee unanimously called for him to go and he should certainly resign today.

“There is no witch hunt. This is about what is best for Aberdeen, it’s citizens and the staff of the council.”