Sturgeon offers to meet SNP staffer sexually harassed by Patrick Grady

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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

NICOLA Sturgeon has agreed to meet an SNP staffer who was sexually harassed by one of her MPs and has already personally apologised to the victim.

SNP MP Patrick Grady was suspended from the Commons for two days and from the SNP until his suspension was served after the independent investigation found he had behaved inappropriately.

Last week, an audio recording was released of an SNP Westminster group meeting during which leader Ian Blackford said he looked forward to bringing Mr Grady back into the fold and calling on other party MPs to support him.

Fellow SNP MPs Amy Callaghan and Marion Fellows also said colleagues should support Mr Grady.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon backs Ian Blackford over 'utterly unacceptable' leaked comments

Ms Callaghan has since issued a fulsome apology for her remarks.

But the victim has spoken out about how he feels let down by the handling of the incident by the SNP.

Speaking at First Minister's Questions, Ms Sturgeon acknowledged “a victim who feels that they were not properly supported in that process”.

She added: “The victim, in this case, believes the process exacerbated the trauma that was experienced.

“I am very sorry that a member of the Westminster SNP group staff was subjected to an unwanted sexual advance. It shouldn't have happened.”

But Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross claimed “the victim has been disregarded” by the SNP, adding that reports suggest “the victim feels betrayed”.

He pointed to statements given by the victim that he feels the party leadership attempted to “take advantage of me being young and inexperienced”.

READ MORE: SNP MP Patricia Gibson cleared of sexual misconduct after bungled investigation

Mr Ross added: “Most depressing of all, he said the SNP are punishing any victim of this sort of behaviour and punishing anyone that has come forward with a similar complaint as mine.”

The First Minister replied by saying that “some days ago”, she wrote to the victim and “said sorry to them”.

She added: “I have also confirmed my willingness to meet directly and personally with the victim in this case. When, as I hope it will, that interaction takes place, I will say sorry in person.”

But Mr Ross claimed there was a “deep systemic problem in the governing party here in Scotland”, adding that it was an ”all-too familiar tale”.

Asked by journalists about the incident, Ms Sturgeon said that it was important “we don’t defend things that shouldn’t be defended”.

She said: “I’m going to speak to the victim, assuming he’s still willing to do so – obviously I can’t presume that, but if that is the case, I will speak to the victim in this case directly.

“I’m not going to go into more detail today about what that person might say to me. It’s important that they get the opportunity to say that to me directly. “

Ms Sturgeon added: “I want to sit down with them directly and hear hat first hand and reflect on that properly.

“I have already, with a written message, exchanged with the victim in this case – firstly said sorry.

“I don’t want any member of staff for the Scottish Government or the SNP to have to be in this position.

“I don’t want anybody to suffer unwanted sexual advances or sexual harassment – that appalls me and I’m never going to defend that.

“There are clearly lessons for the SNP here. My job and responsibility as leader is to make sure that they are learned, and changes are made.”

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