Former Scottish first minister Alex Salmond has resigned his membership of the SNP following allegations of sexual harassment, he said on Twitter.
In a statement, Salmond said: “I truly love the SNP and the wider independence movement in Scotland.
“They have been the defining commitment of my life.
“But today I have written to the National Secretary of the Party resigning my membership.”
Referring to recent allegations about his conduct, Salmond said: “So let me be clear again. I refute these two complaints of harassment and I absolutely reject any suggestion of criminality.
“I believe that all such issues must be treated seriously, confidentially and through a fair process.
“In this case confidentiality has been broken greatly to my detriment and in a way which puts at serious risk the anonymity of both complainants.”
Salmond said he was resigning as it was obvious that the party was under pressure to suspend him, which would cause “substantial internal division”.
He added that intends to apply to rejoin the SNP once he had an opportunity to clear his name.
Last week, it emerged he was suing the Scottish government over its handling of the harassment complaints.
At the same time as announcing his resignation, he launched a crowdfunder to raise money for the court battle.
Scottish Labour business manager and women’s spokesperson Rhoda Grant told HuffPost UK: “That an independently wealthy man with his celebrity and political power is to raise legal fees through a crowdfunder for a case ultimately linked to sexual harassment is unbelievable.
“It suggests that he is sending a signal to those who have made allegations that he has the upper hand.
“Decent people will rightly be furious that he is to raise money to take the Scottish Government to court. Alex Salmond is abusing his power, and dragging Scotland into the gutter.”
In a statement following the resignation, Salmond’s successor as first minister Nicola Sturgeon said she felt a “huge sadness” about the whole situation.
She said the last few days had been “incredibly difficult” for the SNP. She is said to have been under intense pressure to suspend him while Police Scotland review the case.
On Friday, she said: “I have been clear on many occasions that all organisations and workplaces must make it possible for people to come forward to report concerns and have confidence that they will be treated seriously. For that principle to mean anything it cannot be applied selectively. It must be applied without fear or favour, regardless of the identity, seniority or political allegiance of the person involved.
“My relationship with Alex Salmond obviously makes this an extremely difficult situation for me to come to terms with. I am also acutely aware how upsetting this will be for my party.
“However the overriding priority must be to ensure fair and due process. I would also ask that the privacy of those who have complained be respected.”
Salmond has twice been leader of the SNP and led the devolved Scottish government as first minister from 2007. He resigned after Scotland voted to remain in the UK in the independence referendum in 2014.