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Westminster SNP colleagues gave me panic attacks, says MP

Dr Lisa Cameron faces an uphill battle to be selected as SNP candidate for next year’s general election
Dr Lisa Cameron faces an uphill battle to be selected as SNP candidate for next year’s general election - Chris McAndrew/UK Parliament/PA

An SNP MP has claimed she suffered panic attacks following “group bullying” by her Westminster colleagues as an internal campaign to unseat her gathered pace.

Dr Lisa Cameron said “the SNP gave me panic attacks”, triggered by “hostility” she received from other nationalist MPs, including some who ignored her.

She repeated allegations she made last week that she was “ostracised” for speaking out against a sex pest colleague they had been ordered to support.

Patrick Grady, the Glasgow North MP, was found guilty of sexual misconduct after making an unwanted advance to a party worker who was only 19 at the time.

Dr Cameron’s rift with her colleagues was triggered by Mr Grady being suspended from the Commons for two days. A leaked recording emerged last year of Ian Blackford, then the SNP’s Westminster leader, urging MPs to rally around him.

‘Group bullying mentality’

She said she spoke out on behalf of Mr Grady’s victim, telling the Scottish Daily Mail: “For months people wouldn’t speak to me, some people when I would go into a room would just behave as though I was not there.

“I’m not saying people should have to speak to someone if they don’t wish to, but it felt very much like a group bullying mentality, almost like a sort of team bully.”

In addition to the panic attacks, she said she had told SNP whips at Westminster she was undergoing counselling following her experience and had around a year of records to prove this.

Stephen Flynn, who ousted Mr Blackford as the SNP’s Westminster leader, said Dr Cameron’s comments “don’t reflect my experience of the situation down in Westminster” and she was welcome to discuss the matter with him.

Dr Cameron’s intervention came as she faces an uphill battle to be selected as the SNP candidate for next year’s general election in her East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow constituency.

The SNP MSP for East Kilbride, the equivalent seat in the Scottish Parliament, has urged local members to instead select a party staffer who is challenging Dr Cameron for the seat.

Collette Stevenson endorsed Grant Costello, who works as the SNP’s digital media manager, saying he would be “a great advocate for our local community”. Christina McKelvie, the SNP culture minister, has also backed Mr Costello.

‘For local members to choose’

Dr Cameron has warned she could trigger a by-election by standing down immediately if she is not selected, rather than waiting until the general election.

That would be a huge political headache for Humza Yousaf, the First Minister, with the SNP already facing defeat to Labour in the Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election next week.

On Monday, Mr Yousaf said there should be a “robust debate” around who should be selected to fight the seat and it was up to local members.

An SNP spokesman said: “A number of sitting SNP MPs will be involved in selection contests following the introduction of new constituency boundaries and it’s for local members to choose their candidate in a ballot.”