Ian Blackford ‘sorry’ over Patrick Grady sex pest case as he issues apology to victim

Ian Blackford has issued an apology saying he “deeply regrets” a party worker being sexual harassed by an SNP MP.

The SNP Westminster leader has faced calls to resign after an audio recording revealed he urged Nationalist MPs to rally around Patrick Grady who was found guilty by Commons authorities.

Grady, MP for Glasgow North, made an “unwanted sexual advance” towards a staff member, then aged 19, in 2016.

In the audio clip Blackford could be heard saying Grady “is going to face a number of challenges over the short term and so he should have our absolute full support”.

In a statement released today Blackford said “staff must have full confidence that the group takes complaints seriously”.

It comes after opposition parties and SNP MP Joanna Cherry hit out at the party over how it handles claims of sexual misconduct.

Grady was suspended from the Commons for two days last week and made a public apology after a complaint of sexual harassment by a young SNP staffer was upheld.

Blackford said: “As SNP Westminster leader, I have a duty of care to all of our staff. That is why I deeply regret that a member of staff was subject to inappropriate behaviour.

“It was completely unacceptable and should never have happened. I am sorry that it did.

“Staff must have full confidence that the group takes complaints seriously. In this case, the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme investigated what happened. We respect and accept that independent process.

“More than that, however, staff have a right to feel fully supported when a complaint is made. I regret that the complainant does not feel that this is the case.

“The way that this situation has played out publicly over the last few days, including recordings from the parliamentary group, has caused distress to the complainant amongst others and I am sorry that is the case.

Glasgow North MP Patrick Grady was found guilty by Commons authorities
Glasgow North MP Patrick Grady was found guilty by Commons authorities

“We will consider all lessons that must be learned to make sure staff have full confidence they will receive the support they need.

“As such, I am initiating an external review of support available to staff, to sit alongside the independent advice service and independent complaints process.

“Raising complaints of this nature is never easy, and I am determined that staff have the support they need.”

After the audio recording was leaked SNP MPs were threatened with criminal action by their chief whip.

Owen Thompson summoned every MP who was at the group meeting to speak with him in person on Tuesday and Wednesday as part of a hunt for the leaker.

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