Purcell admits cocaine blackmail fear
Steven Purcell resigned from the council citing stress and exhaustionThe former leader of Glasgow City Council has admitted using cocaine and told of how this may have left him open to blackmail.Steven Purcell told The Scottish Sun newspaper that he had taken the drug a "handful" of times.
He also said police warned that there could be video footage of him using the drug which might be used for blackmail.
Mr Purcell resigned as leader of the authority on 2 March, citing stress and exhaustion as the cause.
The 37-year-old told the newspaper he had used cocaine on several occasions after being first offered it at a party.
He blamed his own "stupidity" for his decision to take the Class A drug and explained how it eventually led to a visit from police.
He told the paper: "Two officers from the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency came along.
"They told me that during the course of an investigation they came across information that could mean I would be subject to blackmail because of the use of cocaine.
I was contemplating suicide. I thought to myself - life isn't worth living like thisSteven Purcell
"They said there might be a video of me using cocaine and that could be used to blackmail me.
"The last time I used it was a year ago, a few weeks before the police came to see me. I told close colleagues at the council about it because I think it's important to be honest."
The former Labour councillor for the city's Blairdardie ward also said that he had problems with alcohol before he decided to step down.
He told the newspaper he had suffered from "increasing feelings of loneliness" in the months before his decision to step down as council leader.
He said he started to drink heavily at the beginning of the year, using alcohol as "crutch" to help him cope when he was "low or stressed".
"I had gone from being normal to hitting rock bottom. I was basically having a nervous breakdown," he said.
"I was contemplating suicide. I thought to myself - life isn't worth living like this.
"It was at that point I called my family and told my family how I was feeling and that I was considering resignation."
He told how he decided to seek professional help and booked himself into the Castle Craig clinic in Peeblesshire, from where he tendered his resignation as council leader by telephone.
I must apologise to my family, my constituents who loyally elected me, my friends and my colleagues who may feel I ran away from thingsSteven Purcell
He said: "I must apologise to my family, my constituents who loyally elected me, my friends and my colleagues who may feel I ran away from things."
Mr Purcell was first elected to Glasgow City Council in May 1995.
He served as convener of development and regeneration, then education before becoming leader, at the age of 32, in 2005.
He was named as "Councillor of the Year" at last year's Scottish Politician of the Year awards for his role in delivering the Commonwealth Games to Glasgow and for promoting a "living wage" for workers in the city.
Following his resignation, there have been calls for Strathclyde Police and the public spending watchdog, Audit Scotland, to investigate allegations about how council contracts were awarded under Mr Purcell's leadership.
Both bodies confirmed last week that they would not proceed with any investigation
What the heck is going on here? It is obvious that the BBC and others have chased Steven Purcell down. We are left in the dark as to where he is. Perhaps that is legitimate, as he may be a witness against corruption, or summat. We can be relieved that he is still alive. The more ridiculous conspiracy theories can be put to bed.