Blackford says lessons will be learned after MP’s ‘inappropriate’ behaviour

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SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford has promised an external review will take place following criticism of the SNP’s handling of a complaint against Patrick Grady MP. (Steve Parsons/PA)
SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford has promised an external review will take place following criticism of the SNP’s handling of a complaint against Patrick Grady MP. (Steve Parsons/PA)

The SNP has promised an external review will be held to look at the support available to staff after an employee claimed he had endured a “living hell” after making a complaint about the behaviour of MP Patrick Grady.

The Glasgow North MP was found by an independent investigation to have behaved inappropriately towards the male party worker at a function and was suspended from Parliament for two days.

But the handling of the complaint has drawn criticism, most notably from the victim himself, who has said he is now considering legal action.

Speaking for the first time about the matter, SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford said he was “determined that staff have the support they need” as he promised an external review would be carried out.

Glasgow North MP Patrick Grady found by an independent investigation tohave behaved inappropriately towards a member of staff. (Chris McAndrew/UK Parliament/PA)
Glasgow North MP Patrick Grady found by an independent investigation tohave behaved inappropriately towards a member of staff. (Chris McAndrew/UK Parliament/PA)

His comments come after audio was leaked of a party meeting where Mr Blackford said he was “very much looking forward to welcoming Patrick back into the group” and encouraged fellow MPs to give him “as much support as possible”.

The complainer however said he feared he would not be “well received” at work, as he added he was considering his options.

“If that includes legal action, then so be it,” he added.

In a statement released on Tuesday evening, Mr 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.”

He added: “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.”

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

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford

Mr Blackford continued: “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.”

He stated: “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.”

Mr Grady has already said he was “profoundly sorry” for his behaviour after being found to have breached Parliament’s sexual misconduct policy.

His comments came after an report into his conduct said he “made an unwanted sexual advance to the complainant that included the touching and stroking of the complainant’s neck, hair, and back”.

Commenting on Mr Blackford’s statement, Scottish Conservative Party chairman Craig Hoy said: “It’s astounding that it took Ian Blackford this long to realise he should apologise.

“The SNP Westminster leader has shown appalling judgment and is only now saying sorry in a desperate bid to save his own skin.

“His credibility is in tatters and he must go, so that no victim is ever let down this atrociously again.”

Scottish Labour MSP Neil Bibby MSP added: “This is not a real apology, it is the apology of someone who got caught.

“All victims deserve a fair system, but the reality is that the SNP have shown no interest in that, refusing to take meaningful action and cheerleading the return of a man who tried to take sexual advantage of his staff.

“From the start, the SNP have behaved in a way that is disgraceful, closing ranks and intimidating people who tried to bring this story to light.

“There is no place in politics for men who turn a blind eye to abuse because it has been perpetrated by a friend.

“Mr Blackford is leader of the UK’s third party and a close ally of the First Minister, he must stand aside.”

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