Politics

SNP worker accuses two MPs of sexual harassment and claims ‘it has been swept under the carpet’

The SNP worker accusing two MPs of sexual harassment claims the party have “happily swept this under the carpet”.

And he has accused their Commons leader Ian Blackford of an “ambush” after calling him into a meeting to accept an apology from one of the alleged abusers.

The staffer claims one SNP MP inappropriately touched him when he was 19 and accused another of drunkenly asking him for sex in two separate incidents in London.

His complaint is now being investigated by the SNP after it was submitted last month.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has been informed.

The SNP has faced serious questions in recent years on whether its complaints system is fit for purpose.

The man – who has asked to remain anonymous – revealed details of his complaint, which states the first alleged incident involved a male MP in The Water Poet pub in 2016.



Ian Blackford has been accused of ‘ambushing’ the victim during a meeting with one of the alleged attackers

He said: “I was sitting on a couch speaking with colleagues and he perched himself on the side of the couch.

“At that point, he started putting his fingers down the back of my collar, touching me inappropriately there. He was also grabbing my hair.”

He said he declined to raise the matter further as he did not want to go “head to head with an MP”.

The man said the matter came up later after a third party flagged it up.



The first incident took place at The Water Poet pub in 2016

The SNP worker said he confirmed the details when asked, after which he said he received a call from Blackford.

He said: “He calls me into the office and the other MP is sitting on the couch, crying.”

He claimed the MP apologised and said: “At that time. I felt the only thing I could say was that it was OK. I wasn’t going to tear this guy down in front of me. It was pretty hard for me to watch.”

He added: “I wouldn’t view this as mediation – I would view it as ambush.”

The complainer said the separate incident, involving a female MP, happened in January last year in the Strangers Bar in Westminster.

He said: “She was sitting on one of the barstools having a glass of wine and was clearly very, very drunk.

“She was grabbing my hand, pulling me closer and saying to me things like, ‘You should come home with me.’

“She was saying things that were completely inappropriate in terms of what she wanted to do when I went home with her.



The second alleged incident took place at the Strangers Bar in Westminster

“It is one thing to be like that one-on-one but in public in the bar with other people there, it’s not a great look.”

After the staffer complained to the SNP in February, party official Ian McCann emailed to tell him: “I have to be clear that the national secretary can’t look at a complaint in the context of sexual harassment in the workplace.

“Under the terms of the code of conduct, it would have to be examined solely as sexual harassment by one member against another member.

“If you wanted to make a complaint of sexual harassment within the parliamentary estate, that can only be investigated and dealt with under the terms of the independent scheme provided by Westminster.”

The staffer, who still works for the SNP at Westminster but is no longer a party member, believes he is being nudged in the direction of the Commons complaints system.



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He said: “They have happily swept this under the carpet. Now that I’m complaining about it, they are wanting to shunt me somewhere else where the process is harder.”

He added: “The only way I can get action taken is by having the public know what is going on with the SNP.”

The female MP strenuously denied the allegations when approached by the Record. She said: “I am aghast at these utterly absurd and malicious allegations which are completely without any foundation whatsoever.”

The SNP yesterday confirmed there was a meeting in Blackford’s office but described the worker’s account as “inaccurate”.

They added that advice had been offered on how to make a formal complaint so that a proper investigation could be carried out.

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