The SNP’s Westminster leader has issued a public apology over Glasgow MP Patrick Grady’s “inappropriate behaviour” towards a staff member.
Ian Blackford says he “deeply regrets” that the incident occurred as he promised an external review would be carried out.
He also aims “to consider all lessons that must be learned to make sure staff have full confidence they will receive the support they need”.
It comes after the employee claimed he had endured a “living hell” after making a complaint about the behaviour of the Glasgow North MP.
Grady was found by an independent investigation to have behaved inappropriately towards the party worker at a function and was suspended from Parliament for two days.
A report into the MP’s conduct said he “made an unwanted sexual advance to the complainant that included the touching and stroking of the complainant’s neck, hair, and back”.
And speaking in response to Blackford’s statement on Tuesday the complainant called it a “publicity stunt”.
Speaking for the first time about the matter, SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford said he was “determined that staff have the support they need” as he promised an external review would be carried out.
His comments come after audio was leaked of a party meeting where he said he was “very much looking forward to welcoming Patrick back into the group” and encouraged fellow MPs to give him “as much support as possible”.
The complainer however said he feared he would not be “well received” at work, as he added he was considering his options.
“If that includes legal action, then so be it,” he added.
In a statement released on Tuesday evening, Blackford said: “As SNP Westminster leader, I have a duty of care to all of our staff.
“That is why I deeply regret that a member of staff was subject to inappropriate behaviour. It was completely unacceptable and should never have happened. I am sorry that it did.”
He added: “Staff must have full confidence that the group takes complaints seriously.
“In this case, the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme investigated what happened. We respect and accept that independent process.”
Blackford continued: “More than that, however, staff have a right to feel fully supported when a complaint is made. I regret that the complainant does not feel that this is the case.
“The way that this situation has played out publicly over the last few days, including recordings from the parliamentary group, has caused distress to the complainant amongst others and I am sorry that is the case.”
He stated: “We will consider all lessons that must be learned to make sure staff have full confidence they will receive the support they need.
“As such, I am initiating an external review of support available to staff, to sit alongside the independent advice service and independent complaints process.
“Raising complaints of this nature is never easy, and I am determined that staff have the support they need.”
In response to the statement the complainant said: “I’ve received no private apology from Ian, and was given no advanced sight of this public apology.
“This is a publicity stunt by Ian in an effort to save his job, he hasn’t addressed his handling of the situation, he hasn’t addressed the seriousness of the upheld complaint, nor has he explained why he and the Chief Whip have given more focus to finding the leaker, than taking action on the harasser
“Ian Blackford fails to realise that the issues he raises about staff’s concerns, are his own doing, an a direct result of his poor leadership with responsibility for staff.
“He has also failed to fully accept the detrimental impact this has had on my life, career and relationships.
“Ian Blackford has no intention of improving the situation for staff, but instead shows every sign of helping his mates and punishing those that disagree.
“If the party are serious about zero-tolerance, then Patrick Grady must have the whip removed permanently, and the Leader of the Group should be replaced with someone who will handle these situations in an appropriate manner”
Grady has already said he was “profoundly sorry” for his behaviour after being found to have breached Parliament’s sexual misconduct policy.