Politics

Ian Blackford urged to elucidate SNP dealing with of sexual harassment allegations as sufferer threatens authorized motion


Scottish Conservative MP John Lamont demanded the SNP Westminster chief resign and claimed his conduct over the scandal had “betrayed” victims.

It got here as one SNP MP, Amy Callaghan, issued a “wholehearted” apology after she was heard voicing her assist for Mr Grady in a leaked recording.

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The workers member who filed a criticism in opposition to Mr Grady mentioned it was now tough to “envision any route back to work”.

The SNP Westminster chief Ian Blackford is being urged to elucidate the celebration’s dealing with of the incident.

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Why the SNP is in a multitude over Patrick Grady sexual harassment row

Mr Grady, the MP for Glasgow North, was discovered by an impartial investigation to have behaved inappropriately in direction of the staffer, who was then 19, at a celebration operate in 2016 and was suspended from Parliament for 2 days.

The SNP withdrew the whip from the MP till he had served his suspension.

But its dealing with of the criticism has attracted criticism, most notably from the sufferer himself, who mentioned he had been made to really feel as if it was his fault and his life had been made a “living hell”.

Over the weekend, audio was leaked to the Daily Mail of a meeting of the SNP group at Westminster, in which Mr Blackford could be heard saying he was “very much looking forward to welcoming Patrick back into the group next week”, and inspiring fellow MPs to supply “as much support as possible”.

Ms Callaghan also urged MPs to rally around Mr Grady.

Following the leak, the SNP threatened its own MPs with criminal action.

Ms Callaghan, the party’s pensions spokeswoman, said she was “truly sorry” for the remarks.

She called for a “full root-and-branch review” of the SNP’s internal misconduct and harassment structures.

In an announcement, she mentioned: “There is a complainant who has been let down this week by my words and by my party.

“There is no moral high ground or false equivalence when it comes to misconduct. We must do better, myself included.”

The complainer, who nonetheless works for the celebration, advised LBC: “In terms of work, the situation is very difficult right now.

“It’s difficult to find any route back to work, to envision any route back to work.

“Especially given the man that’s responsible for staff, Ian Blackford, has directed the MPs to support Patrick.

“How is that going to impact on me should I return back to work? I don’t think I’m going to be well received at work, and I don’t think anyone would blame me for having that view after hearing the audio recording.”

He added: “In terms of work, I’m considering my options, if that includes legal action, then so be it, but I am considering my options at the moment.”

Joanna Cherry, the high-profile SNP MP, mentioned the celebration had “significant problems” in the way it handles complaints.

She tweeted: “I wasn’t at the SNP Westminster group meeting last week.

“I don’t condone the covert recording or leak. However, for some time the SNP has had significant problems in how it handles complaints.

“My party needs to reflect on the contrast between the treatment of different offenders and to review our arrangements for the pastoral care of complainers.”

Ms Cherry has continuously been at odds with celebration management over plenty of points, together with her opposition to reform of gender recognition laws.

Mr Lamont wrote to Mr Blackford over a 12 months in the past asking what actions have been being taken to stop sexual misconduct, however didn’t obtain a reply.

The Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk MP mentioned: “Ian Blackford must break his silence and explain why he has taken no action to prevent sexual harassment in the SNP Westminster group.

“Instead of acting as we requested more than a year ago, he has treated a disgraced MP with more sympathy than the victim who suffered harassment.

“But Ian Blackford has not only failed this victim, his disgusting actions have made it less likely that any future victims come forward.

“This horrible situation has been made even more ugly by the fact the SNP Westminster group is more focused on preventing leaks than preventing sexual harassment.

“Party discipline is more important to them than supporting a victim.

“The cover-up-and-close-ranks culture at the heart of the SNP Westminster group must end. That will only happen if Ian Blackford steps aside.

“He has betrayed a victim and that is unforgivable.”

SNP constitution secretary Angus Robertson, a former Westminster leader, accused opposition parties of “throwing bricks while sitting in glass houses”.

He said the outcomes of independent investigations should be respected.

“We need context in this – absolutely, first thoughts are with anybody who has been subject to inappropriate behaviour,” he told STV.

“Secondly, if you are going to have independent processes to look at them and to work out what penalties should be paid, then one should respect those and that’s exactly what’s happening.

“And Ian Blackford is right to recognise that, but at the same time say when somebody has paid the price that they’ve been told that they have to pay, people have to have a future beyond that.”

Mr Grady previously said he was “profoundly sorry” for his behaviour and deeply regretted his actions.

The Glasgow North MP “made an unwanted sexual advance to the complainant that included the touching and stroking of the complainant’s neck, hair and back”, a report into his conduct said.

Labour shadow secretary Ian Murray accused the SNP of a cover-up.

He mentioned: “The leadership of the SNP are spending more time trying to find one of their own who has exposed their duplicity rather than dealing with the issue.

“Political leaders need to set an example against sexual harassment, but the SNP have decided that example should be to cover things up and go after those that have exposed them.”

Lib Dem chief whip Wendy Chamberlain added: “The words of the complainer in this case speak volumes.

“The priority for all parties must be to protect and support whistleblowers and survivors.

“The SNP are clearly not focused on doing that here.”

Speaking on Thursday, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon mentioned: “One of the things that is so important here is that when people suffer this kind of behaviour, that the process they go through should not make the experience or the trauma that they have suffered worse.

“If any complainer feels that is the case, then whatever organisation that has been at stake here, they have to reflect on that and I give an absolute assurance that the SNP will.”



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