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Environment Minister Andrew Younger fields questions about his failure to appear in provincial court for an assault case, at a news conference in Halifax.Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press

Nova Scotia's Liberal government lost a second key figure Tuesday in a controversy that started when a cabinet minister didn't attend court to testify in an assault case where he was the alleged victim.

Premier Stephen McNeil accepted the resignation of his chief of staff, Kirby McVicar, a day after he disclosed the personal health information of Andrew Younger, who was kicked out of cabinet after he didn't show up in court earlier this month.

McNeil said he accepted McVicar's resignation when he returned Tuesday from meetings in Ottawa with the country's premiers and the prime minister.

"Information was put out of here yesterday that in my view was unacceptable," McNeil told reporters outside his office.

"The issue is I had a problem with it. Information that comes to this office needs to be protected."

McNeil said McVicar told him that he alone was responsible for the release of Younger's personal information and that's why he accepted his resignation.

He said the loss of McVicar was difficult personally.

"This is not an easy day," McNeil said. "Kirby is more than someone who was my chief of staff, he was my friend."

The premier also conceded the issues around Younger's dismissal have been a distraction, but he said the government was ready to move on.

McVicar's resignation came after he told reporters that Younger was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and that he also had a brain tumour.

Younger responded Tuesday by filing a privacy complaint against McVicar.

Younger said the disclosure, which contained some accurate and some inaccurate information, was done without his consent.

"I think all Nova Scotians should be concerned when their government or their employer releases private health information without consent," Younger told reporters.

Younger said he has been diagnosed with PTSD, but he does not have a brain tumour and he never told McVicar that he had one.

He said members of his family were unaware of his condition and now he has to deal with their concerns because of the disclosure. As a result, Younger said he felt he had to take action and filed a complaint with the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner and the privacy officer with the Department of Health.

"You can imagine the position this has put me in," he said. "It (the disclosure) also sets a terrible precedent."

McVicar spoke about Younger's health when he was explaining his role in a conversation in February that Younger secretly taped at his constituency office.

The recorded conversation was the subject of a warrant issued last week by the Speaker of the legislature.

Younger submitted a 12 minute and 10 second recording on Monday and legislature Speaker Kevin Murphy informed the house on Tuesday that he believed the Independent member had fulfilled his obligation.

Outside the legislature, Liberal house leader Michel Samson said as a result of the Speaker's ruling, the government would not seek further sanctions against Younger.

McVicar was already under scrutiny because the secretly taped recording, which was made when Younger was on a leave of absence from cabinet, contains an apparent job offer for his wife, who was about to be laid off.

McVicar said on Monday that he was advising Younger on dealing publicly with the reasons for his absence.

He said he made the offer to help alleviate the pressure Younger was experiencing because of death threats that had been made against him and his health problems.

McNeil has said he fired Younger because he didn't provide accurate information on when he knew about a parliamentary privilege that was used to avoid appearing at the assault trial.

Younger failed to appear in provincial court in the case of a former Liberal staff member who was accused of assaulting him. The case was subsequently thrown out by a judge.

This content appears as provided to The Globe by the originating wire service. It has not been edited by Globe staff.

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