SNP Westminster staff 'unsafe under Ian Blackford', says Grady victim

The party staffer who suffered an unwanted sexual advance by an MP has called on the Westminster leader to stand down.

‘Staff unsafe working in Westminster for SNP under Ian Blackford’, says victim of Patrick Grady Parliament TVParliament UK

Staff working for the SNP in Westminster “remain unsafe” with Ian Blackford in charge, the victim of an unwanted sexual advance by MP Patrick Grady has said.

It comes as it was revealed the official Parliamentary email address of the complainant had been blocked, after he criticised the party’s handling of his case.

The SNP has said that it has offered to meet with the victim and that it is initiating a review of staff support to consider improvements.

Grady was found by an independent panel to have made the inappropriate advance towards the party staffer, then aged 19, at a social event in a London pub in 2016.

The MP was suspended from Parliament for two days after it was found that he had touched and stroked the teenager’s neck, hair and back.

Grady was also suspended by the SNP for a week, with the MP later choosing to suspend his party membership.

However, the SNP has faced criticism in its handling of the complaint.

In an email seen by STV News, the party’s deputy Westminster leader Kirsten Oswald writes to the victim to tell him that he should “cease and desist” from sending emails to her and other colleagues which she claimed were “unacceptable” in their “tone and content”.

Oswald said that colleagues had raised with her that they “feel upset and threatened” by the content of the emails.

She stated that the complainant’s work account would be “temporarily suspended” while the complainant is on long-term sick leave as a “protective measure”.

She told the complainant that should he continue to send such messages, it is “only fair to put you on notice that this could be treated as misconduct” and could “make you subject to further action under a disciplinary process”.

Oswald added that it is “of course, very much hoped that will not be necessary”.

The SNP’s deputy Westminster leader stated that the account “will, of course, be reactivated in due course at some appropriate point”.

According to the complainant, the suspension of their email account has left him unable to do work, speak to colleagues or be included in staff meetings.

He also told STV News that the party has not contacted him and claims he has been given the “silent treatment” from MPs, with questions put to Oswald and Blackford being “ignored”.

He has insisted that other staff within the party “have a right to know” how he is being treated.

He said he was speaking out as it could “happen to them too should they also become a victim of abuse under the leadership of Ian Blackford”.

He has called for the SNP Westminster leader to stand down.

“Ian Blackford should consider his own position, Patrick Grady rightly suspended his SNP membership, however it is unacceptable that it took Patrick Grady to sanction Patrick Grady,” he told STV News.

“Ian Blackford has shown no leadership on this issue, and as long as he still leads the SNP Westminster Group, staff remain unsafe working in Westminster for the SNP.

“As an employee of the SNP Westminster Group who feels unsafe, I am calling on Ian Blackford to stand down as SNP Westminster Leader.

“I ask the SNP leadership to replace him with someone who will take sexual harassment of their staff as seriously as they do when trying to find the leak of the audio from the group meeting.

“At the moment, the SNP has punished me more severely than the man who sexually harassed me.”

An SNP Westminster parliamentary group spokesperson said: “As employers it would not be appropriate to comment on staff employment matters. There is confidential staffing information that is, rightly, not in the public domain.

“The SNP has a duty of care to all of its staff and, in line with appropriate advice, is acting to support all staff.”

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