Council leader Jonathan McColl has hit back at claims he has stepped down due to his mental health.

An article appeared online last week stating that the SNP politician had decided to relieve himself of official duties, and pass the reigns to deputy Caroline McAllister while "the matter of his (mental) health is cleared up".

The piece appeared in community website, The Dumbarton Democrat.

But when contacted by the Reporter, Mr McColl came out all-guns-blazing to shoot down the fake news story.

He raged: "He got my name right, and Caroline is depute leader of the Council, but that's about it.

"I can assure you I'm fine."

Mr McColl has been absent from council business for a few days, and McAllister is sitting in for him.

But the reason is that he is visiting an old friend who lives abroad.

Despite being out the country, he has still be in touch in an official capacity, and will be back in the chair on Monday.

He explained: "Caroline is watching the shop while I'm visiting an old school friend who lives abroad until Sunday, but while here, I've been in contact with Caroline, the chief executive, Derek Mackay's office, and colleagues from West Dunbartonshire and across Scotland talking about all manner of things relevant to the Council.

"As a Council Leader, even when you're on holiday you still keep a hand on the tiller."

In December Mr McColl took the brave step of speaking to a newspaper about mental health issues he has endured most of his adult life.

In a wide-ranging, and brutally honest interview, he revealed he has tried to take his own life on two separate occasions, adding: "I’ll feel ‘normal’ for a week or so and then my mood will shift to one way or the other. The majority of the time I am in a depressed state, as I am now."

Speaking about previous articles which have appeared on the Dumbarton Democrat, Mr McColl said: "[The journalist] has his own take on facts.

"For example, he wrote an article slamming Ian Dickson for living the high life and training to be a pilot, polluting the air over West Dunbartonshire while joy riding in his plane over Erskine Bridge. This was based on Ian having a 30min flight simulator experience at Glasgow Airport, bought for him as a Christmas present by his mum."

Mr McColl also revealed he chose to speak out in December in a bid to help others in a similar situation.

He added: "The point of doing the piece was to start de-stigmatising mental health and make it easier for people to open up and get help.

"It's a real shame that [Dumbarton Democrat] missed that entirely and instead saw it as an opportunity to attack. It's folk like this that cause people to suffer in silence."