Humza Yousaf will campaign “with whoever the candidates are” at next year’s election, as an MP suspended after being found to have acted inappropriately towards a party staffer seeks re-selection.
Reports suggested on Monday that Patrick Grady was seeking re-selection in his Glasgow North seat for the SNP, despite spending six months as an independent last year following an investigation of the accusations by parliamentary authorities.
Mr Grady was suspended from the House of Commons for two days and apologised in Parliament, saying: “I am profoundly sorry for my behaviour and I deeply regret my actions and their consequences.”
Pushed on the whether he would be comfortable campaigning alongside Mr Grady, with Mr Yousaf having pitched himself as the “first activist” in the SNP leadership campaign and likely to take a leading role in the general election, the First Minister said: “If he’s gone through the assessment, cleared the assessment process and the local constituency party, of course, has selected him, then I will be up and down the country campaigning with whoever the candidates are.
“But that’s a hypothetical point.”
But Mr Yousaf also hinted it was not a foregone conclusion the Glasgow North MP would win re-selection.
“I’ve not heard anything from Patrick Grady,” he said.
“But Patrick Grady will have to go through the vetting process as any other candidate will have to do so and, of course, again like anybody else, his conduct and his behaviour will be part of that assessment during that vetting process.”
He added: “It would be for the local constituency to determine whether or not he’s the appropriate candidate, even if he is assessed.
“Patrick Grady, of course, was right to be punished by the SNP in terms of the suspension, he was right to then apologise publicly as well as apologise privately.
“But, be in no doubt, every single candidate that goes forward for a general election, their conduct and behaviour will be taken into account.”
An investigation by Commons authorities found Mr Grady had acted inappropriately towards a teenage party staffer at an SNP event in London, with the victim heavily criticising how the complaint was subsequently handled.
The man, who no longer works for the party, said his life was made a “living hell” and he had been made to feel as though it was his fault.