SNP urged to suspend two MPs after 'sexual harassment' finding

·3-min read
SNP urged to suspend two MPs after 'sexual harassment' finding
SNP urged to suspend two MPs after 'sexual harassment' finding

THE SNP is facing calls to withdraw the party whip from two MPs after it was reported that sexual harassment complaints have been upheld against them.

Former Westminster chief whip Patrick Grady and housing spokesperson Patricia Gibson had been investigated by an independent Westminster’s ethics watchdog.

The Sunday Times reported complaints against both MPs under the new Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme have been upheld and the pair asked to respond.

The Liberal Democrats said the SNP should withdraw the whip from both MPs, saying: “The SNP have been vocal about misconduct on the Conservative benches, they should recognise that the same standards they demand of others ought to apply to them.”

Despite partygate and other scandals involving their own party at Westminster, the Scottish Tories claimed the SNP were "engulfed in sleaze".

Mr Grady, 42, the SNP MP for Glasgow North, stood aside as whip a year ago after the Herald revealed he had been accused of groping two male researchers at a 2016 Christmas party.

READ MORE: SNP 'protected' chief whip Patrick Grady over grope allegations

Complaints were sent to the office of then Commons speaker John Bercow in 2017 and 2018, which passed them to the SNP’s compliance unit.

One letterr, signed by "concerned staff members", stated: "This matter in relation to repeated sexual misconduct is widely known about within Westminster and the SNP group, however, given his position and despite a supposed tough stance against harassment, Patrick Grady is being protected and his behaviour is supported."

After he stood down, Nicola Sturgeon revealed she had been made aware of “a concern” about Mr Grady previously. However the party dealt with the matter informally.

The male complainer was called to a meeting with SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford and Mr Grady, during which tearful Mr Grady apologised for his behaviour.

The alleged victim reportedly said it felt like an “ambush”, however the SNP said his version of the meeting was inaccurate.

Ms Gibson, 53, the MP for North Ayrshire and Arran, was accused of making inappropriate comments to a male member of staff in a Commons bar in January 2020.

She has rejected the claims as unfounded and “malicious allegations”.

One SNP source familiar with the situation said: “To all intents and purposes it’s been a massive cover-up.

“Grady and Gibson have never been suspended. Grady was even elected to go forward for election to the SNP Conferences Committee last year, and got onto it.

“It comes across as really shabby. It throws up questions for Blackford. He needs to go.”

Stephen Kerr, the Tory chief whip at Holyrood, said: “It appears that Nicola Sturgeon’s party has yet again failed victims of alleged sexual misconduct.

“The SNP have shown a complete lack of transparency and have tried to brush these horrendous incidents under the carpet in the hope people will forget about them.

“The victims deserve better than to be treated as an afterthought by the SNP who continue to be engulfed in sleaze.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat chief whip Wendy Chamberlain MP said: “Political parties should be supporting the independent investigation process.

“Given that there has been an interim finding of misconduct these MPs should now be suspended while the full process concludes.

“The SNP have been vocal about misconduct on the Conservative benches, they should recognise that the same standards they demand of others ought to apply to them as well.”

Asked if the party was suspending either MP and whether Mr Blackford would apologise for organising the meeting with Mr grady’s complainer, the SNP refused to say.

Asked if there had been a cover-up, the SNP also refused to say.

Instead, the party issued a one-line statement, saying: “It would not be legally appropriate to comment while the independent parliamentary process is ongoing.”