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An SNP MP has apologised after she was heard calling on others to back Patrick Grady after his suspension over inappropriate behaviour.
In an audio recording leaked to the Daily Mail newspaper of a meeting of SNP MPs, Amy Callaghan, 30, can allegedly be heard telling her colleagues: “We should be rallying together around (Mr Grady) to support him at this time.”
The party’s Westminster chief, Ian Blackford, also features urging members to offer Grady “as much support as possible” and has since been called on by opposition parties to step down.
Ms Callaghan, the MP for East Dunbartonshire, appears to be the first MP heard speaking at the meeting to issue an apology about what was said in the leaked audio.
On Monday, she posted a statement on Twitter which read: “This can and should only start with a wholehearted apology to anyone – especially survivors of harassment – who has been hurt or triggered as a result of this week.
“I have been searingly reflective and honest with myself. Whilst I can’t forgive myself for how inappropriate it was for me to frame my input this way, I owe everyone, not least survivors and my constituents, an explanation.
“I am both sorry and, ultimately, take full responsibility for my words as insensitive, poorly worded and misplaced as they were.
“I’m taking full accountability for the hurt and disappointment I’ve caused, not least of all to those directly impacted by sexual misconduct in this case.”
Last week, Glasgow North MP Patrick Grady was found by an independent investigation to have behaved inappropriately towards a member of staff at a party function in 2016 and suspended from Parliament for two days.
The victim was a teenager at the time.
The party also withdrew the whip from the MP until he had served his suspension.
The handling of the complaint has drawn criticism, most notably from the victim himself, who said he had been made to feel as though it was his fault and his life had been made a “living hell”.
In her statement, Ms Callaghan, who returned to the House of Commons earlier this year after spending months in hospital after suffering a brain haemorrhage, went on to talk about how survivors of sexual misconduct must be supported.
“I should have prefaced my comments and reiterated this throughout my contribution,” she added.
“I believed I was in a situation where my support of survivors was implied. I was wrong. This isn’t good enough.
“My comments without this context absolutely warrant the upset they have caused. I am truly sorry.”
She said the SNP is “falling short” in supporting complainants adding: “Zero tolerance can’t be a slogan, it has to be real.”
The MP said she has written to the group’s chief whip asking for a “full root and branch review” by an independent organisation looking into misconduct and harassment structures.
Mr Grady made an apology in the Commons after the suspension was handed down, saying: “I am profoundly sorry for my behaviour and I deeply regret my actions and their consequences.”
A Scottish Government minister has said Mr Blackford, his party’s Westminster leader, should not resign after he urged SNP MPs to support Patrick Grady.
Neil Gray, who was MP for Airdrie and Shotts from 2015 to 2021, however, said he believed the sanctions on Mr Grady were “right”.
When asked if he believed Mr Blackford and Mr Grady should resign, he said: “No, I think there was an independent process that was set up and agreed by all parties at Westminster that ensured that people who had complaints were able to come forward and have them considered in an independent fashion.
“That process concluded that there was a sanction to be meted out on Patrick Grady which was absolutely right and the SNP group at Westminster mirrored that sanction.
“So, I think now what’s important is ensuring that all parties concerned – obviously my first thought is with the complainant – and ensuring they have the support that they require, but that all parties have the pastoral support that is required going forward and that, obviously, following incidents like this, we always reflect and ensure that our processes as a party or Westminster group are as responsive as possible and make sure that we learn any lessons that are necessary.”