SCOTTISH LibDem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton has been receiving therapy for more than two years after facing online abuse. 

Speaking ahead of his speech at his party’s conference in Hamilton on Sunday, Cole-Hamilton told the Herald the Lib Dems had paid for him to undergo counselling due to the scale of abuse, as he stressed political discourse needed to improve.

The revelation comes as the Scottish Parliament released the findings of a pilot programme which showed 461 complaints made to police over abuse levelled at just 38 MSPs.

Speaking to the BBC’s Sunday Show before his address to the conference, Cole-Hamilton said: “I think we need to raise the standard of public debate.”

He claimed the time of constitutional wrangling in Scotland was “passing away” and the more political discourse is focused on “the day-to-day issues” then the more likely it would be to improve given it was “harder to take offence” to issues such as the health service or education.

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“Over the last five to 10 years, the situation, the ecosystem in Scottish politics has deteriorated where abuse is very personal, sometimes it’s in the street.

He added that he was “very grateful” his party was willing to financially support his therapy, adding: “It was important for me, I think, to be open and honest about that.

“I’ve been receiving therapy for the last two-and-a-bit years because this is an intense job, under constant public scrutiny.”

The Scottish Lib Dem leader continued: “I’m a human being, I need somewhere to vent, to offload some of that.

“I’m very fortunate and I know that other people aren’t so fortunate, but I wanted to talk about it and say it’s all right to put your hand up and say ‘listen, I need some help here’.”

The sessions, he said, have “really helped adjust my approach to politics and help me realise what matters and to be more resilient than I have been”.

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However, SNP mental wellbeing minister Maree Todd (above) sarcastically hit out at Cole-Hamilton on Twitter/X, and claimed he had subjected her to an "onslaught of online abuse".

She said: "I'm actually glad he is seeking help.

"I think the way he behaved towards me was disturbing.

"Disappointing the onslaught of online abuse he unleashed on me wasn't covered though."

In 2021, Cole-Hamilton was forced to apologise to Todd after swearing at her during an official video call.

He was caught on camera mouthing swear words at Todd during a parliamentary committee and subsequently faced criticism for appearing to blame her for provoking the outburst.

The Scottish LibDems and Todd have been approached for further comment.