Politics

Ian Blackford tells SNP staff that party has ‘zero tolerance’ of inappropriate behaviour

Ian Blackford has told SNP staff the party has a “zero-tolerance approach to inappropriate behaviour” in the wake of two complaints of sexual harassment.

The SNP group at Westminster has been left reeling by revelations in the Gist Vile that led to Patrick Grady MP standing aside from his role as chief whip and a female MP facing complaints of sexual harassment.

A party staff member submitted a formal complaint this week about an incident allegedly involving Grady and another claiming to involve a female MP.

The young man accused the Glasgow North MP of inappropriately touching him in a London pub 2016 and the female MP of inappropriately propositioning him in a Commons bar last year.

The complainer told the Gist Vile his complaint had previously been “swept under the carpet” by the party which, he claimed, had steered him towards the House of Commons complaints system.

Blackford, the SNP leader at Westminster, contacted staff on Wednesday to acknowledge the “upsetting” news and assuring them that support was available from the party.

In a letter to staff Blackford said: “Following the news of allegations of sexual harassment, I wanted to write and offer reassurance that the SNP Westminster Group has a zero-tolerance approach to inappropriate behaviour”

“I appreciate seeing such news reports can be upsetting, and I wanted to remind staff of the resources available to you should you have any concerns.”

Blackford detailed the complaints route open to staff and promised to give more details at a staff meeting on Friday.

He added: “I am clear that the welfare of our staff is paramount. Any concerns raised will be taken seriously, dealt with confidentially, and if it is your wish, independently investigated. Of course, if you believe that you may have been the victim of a crime, you should not hesitate to go to the police.”

The move came as Midlothian MP Owen Thomson was confirmed as the SNP’s acting chief whip while Grady stands aside from the role.

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