Ian Blackford: SNP’s Westminster leader faces demands for resignation over sexual harassment

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SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford is facing demands to resign over allegations of sexual harassment against one of his MPs.

The victim, who was inappropriately touched by SNP MP Patrick Grady at a party in 2016, said Mr Blackford should step down because his position had become “unbearable”.

An independent inquiry into Mr Grady’s case found that he had mistreated a male party worker at a party and had been suspended from parliament for two days. But handling of the complaint has been criticized, especially by the victim, who has said he is now considering legal action.

In a leaked audiotape, Mr Blackford said he was “looking forward to welcoming Patrick back into the group” and encouraged fellow MPs to “support him as much as possible”.

Asked about Mr Blackford’s position, the victim told Sky News: “Ann’s position is still unacceptable, and it will remain so. It will only get worse.

“Ian always talks about his desire for independence, and that is his main goal. At the moment, he is not benefiting the independence movement by staying in office.

“It’s time to dump her.”

The victim told the broadcaster that Mr Blackford had invited her to his Westminster office when the allegations first surfaced.

He added: “I just got a call from them on my personal mobile asking them to come over to their office. When I got there Patrick was sitting on the sofa in the office crying. Ian called me. Asked to sit down and then Patrick started apologizing for the incident a year or so ago.

“I mean, I was 19 or 20 at the time of this meeting. Entering the party leader’s office in Westminster is terrifying.

“I felt guilty in that situation. I felt bad for him in that situation. It is unreasonable to look back but at that moment I felt that I had no choice but to accept the apology.” And to be honest, I was terrified when they would affect my career.

He added: “Really, from what has happened since then, I was right to be afraid because that’s exactly what happened.”

Patrick Grady MP received a two-day suspension from Commons

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Shadow Scotland Secretary Ian Murray accused Mr Blackford of being “unforgiving”, adding: “He did it just because one of his own team recorded the meeting where everyone Someone was supporting Patrick Grady.

“If we want to change the culture within politics, within Westminster, and in the wider society, then those in leadership positions have to take responsibility – and I think they really have to The position must be considered. “

Craig Huey, chairman of the Scottish Conservative Party, said of Mr Blackford: “His reputation is gone and he must go, so that no victim will be disappointed again.”

A report on Mr Grady’s conduct states that he had an unwanted sexual encounter with the complainant, which involved touching and beating the complainant’s neck, hair and back.

In a statement to the broadcaster, Mr Blackford said: “As SNP Westminster leader, I have a responsibility to look after all my staff. It was totally unacceptable and it should never have happened. I’m sorry it happened.

“Staff must have full confidence that the group takes complaints seriously. In this case, the Independent Complaints and Complaints Scheme investigated what happened. We respect and accept this independent process.”

Mr Grady has already said he was “deeply sorry” for his behavior after being found to have violated parliament’s sexual misconduct policy.

Standard contacted Mr. Blackford for further comment.