Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP at war over defence of sex pest MP Grady


Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP threatens its OWN MPs with legal action over leaked recording of Westminster leader Ian Blackford demanding they support a sex pest nationalist politician – after promising victim the party would take a ‘zero-tolerance’ approach

  • Leaked video showed Blackford urging party politicians to support Patrick Grady
  • Parliamentary probe ruled he made ‘unwanted sexual advances’ to party worker
  • Blackford had promised male victim he would show a ‘zero tolerance’ attitude 

Nicola Sturgeon‘s SNP was embroiled in a furious political and legal row today over attempts to defend sex pest MP Patrick Grady.

The party’s leader in Westminster, Ian Blackford, faces demands to quit after a leaked recording caught him urging party politicians to rally round the former chief whip. 

But the SNP has instead threatened its own MPs with legal action over the leak of the tape to the Daily Mail, which came after Mr Blackford promised Mr Grady’s victim he would show a ‘zero tolerance’ attitude to abuse.

According to the Times, the current SNP chief whip Owen Thompson told MPs in a late-night email that parliamentary security had been informed of the leak from a private meeting.

A Westminster probe concluded last week that Grady had made ‘unwanted sexual advances’ to the male party worker, who was just 19 years old at the time.

The Glasgow North MP, now 42, was found to have touched and stroked the neck, hair and back of the teenager at a London pub in 2016.

The man, who works for the party, said today he is considering legal action against the party over its inaction.

Opposition parties have demanded that Mr Blackford either resign or be sacked by Nicola Sturgeon as the crisis engulfed the SNP’s leadership. 

Scottish Labour’s Neil Bibby said: ‘The only investigation the SNP should be launching is into their own failures to protect staff in this tawdry case.

The party's leader in Westminster, Ian Blackford, faces demands to quit after a leaked video showed him urging party politicians to rally round the former chief whip.

The party’s leader in Westminster, Ian Blackford, faces demands to quit after a leaked video showed him urging party politicians to rally round the former chief whip.

A Westminster probe concluded last week that Grady had made 'unwanted sexual advances' to the male party worker, who was just 19 years old at the time.

A Westminster probe concluded last week that Grady had made ‘unwanted sexual advances’ to the male party worker, who was just 19 years old at the time.

‘That SNP MPs stood and applauded one of their colleagues after he admitted abusing his position to take sexual advantage of a staff member is disgusting.

‘From the start, the SNP have behaved in a way that is disgraceful – closing ranks and intimidating people who tried to bring this story to light.

‘There are serious questions for the SNP about whether Patrick Grady is being treated so lamely compared to others because of his closeness to the SNP establishment.’

And Scottish Tory MP John Lamont added: ‘Ian Blackford must break his silence and explain why he has taken no action to prevent sexual harassment in the SNP Westminster Group.

‘Instead of acting as we requested more than a year ago, he has treated a disgraced MP with more sympathy than the victim who suffered harassment.’

Today the Mail revealed Mr Blackford told the young SNP staff member he would take a ‘zero-tolerance approach to inappropriate behaviour’. Instead he was secretly recorded last week urging MPs to rally around Grady.

The victim, who is still a party employee, said: ‘Ian Blackford has broken his promise to take a zero-tolerance approach to sexual harassment. No one can believe a word he says any more. My fear is the way he has handled this will discourage victims from coming forward in future. This has been a betrayal.’

Mr Blackford was made aware of the allegations in February 2018 but he kept Grady as chief whip at Westminster for a further three years.

Grady finally stepped down from the post on March 9, 2021 when the complaint was made public.

It can be revealed today that Mr Blackford wrote to SNP staff, including the victim, two days later to promise he would tackle the problem of harassment.

In an email sent on March 11, 2021, which has been obtained by the Mail, he said: ‘Following the news of allegations of sexual harassment, I want to write and offer reassurance that the SNP Westminster Group has a zero-tolerance approach to inappropriate behaviour.’ His email added: ‘I am clear that the welfare of our staff is paramount.’

But Mr Blackford has now been accused of failing to keep his promise by directing the party’s MPs to give their ‘absolute full support’ to Grady.

At a meeting of the SNP’s parliamentary group last Tuesday, it was decided that Grady should only lose the party whip until he has completed a two-day suspension from the Commons.

A recording obtained by the Mail reveals how Mr Blackford celebrated the choice to allow Grady to remain as a Nationalist MP only 15 minutes after it was agreed.

Following the decision, he told the party group that he ‘would encourage’ them to give ‘as much support as possible’ to their shamed colleague.

‘He’s going to face a number of challenges over the short term and so he should have our absolute full support,’ Mr Blackford said. ‘I for one very much look forward to welcoming Patrick back into the group next week. I am sure that everybody here will agree.’

In the bombshell tape, the gathering of the parliamentary group can be heard shouting ‘hear, hear’ at a call from Amy Callaghan, another SNP frontbencher, for Grady to be supported.

Scottish Conservative Party chairman Craig Hoy said: ‘This email confirms that the SNP have seriously warped priorities when it comes to handling severe misconduct. Ian Blackford must now resign as Westminster leader or be sacked.

According to the Times, the current SNP chief whip Owen Thompson told MPs in a late-night email that parliamentary security had been informed of the leak from a private meeting.

According to the Times, the current SNP chief whip Owen Thompson told MPs in a late-night email that parliamentary security had been informed of the leak from a private meeting.

Scottish Labour frontbencher Neil Bibby said: ‘Ian Blackford and the SNP’s promise to support staff and show zero tolerance to abusers lies in tatters.

‘Instead the SNP has closed ranks, sidelined victims and tried to intimidate anyone who wanted the truth to come to light. This disgraceful behaviour from Grady and Blackford is unacceptable. Nicola Sturgeon can no longer ignore the actions of her Westminster group.’

Angus Robertson, who led the Nationalist MPs at Westminster for a decade before losing his seat to the Tories in 2017, revealed he had spoken to his successor about the ‘very difficult’ situation but rejected any call for him to quit.

The Scottish Government’s Constitution Secretary told the BBC’s Sunday Show: ‘There has to be a way back for people while at the same time supporting people who’ve been treated inappropriately.’

Asked if he thought Mr Blackford should resign for his role in orchestrating a show of support for Mr Grady, Mr Robertson added: ‘No I don’t.

Challenged about the broken promise for zero tolerance, a spokesman for the SNP Westminster parliamentary group said: ‘Staff and MPs have been offered pastoral support throughout this process.’

Source

Related posts