The SNP’s handling of the sexual harassment complaint against their former Westminster whip Patrick Grady has been poor at best. Now a new development only threatens to deepen the pain caused to the victim. The staffer who still works in Westminster, has been threatened with disciplinary action for sending an email internally to defend themselves. It is one of the few options they have without having to break their anonymity.
After the Independent Complaints process found Patrick Grady had been inappropriate towards a current SNP staffer, he was suspended from the Commons for 2 days. A sanction many found too lenient.
Westminster leader Ian Blackford was then caught on tape telling his MPs to “rally round” the disgraced former whip. It was only this recording that finally saw Mr Grady suspended by the SNP and apologies given by some MPs for comments which had made the victim feel abandoned.
The Scottish Sun, (who I am obliged to link to), have now reported that Grady’s victim has been threatened with disciplinary action and had his Westminster work email account suspended. I have verified this story with several sources within the SNP.
The staffer, who is now on sick leave, had sent an email to their SNP colleges including MPs criticising public comments by Mr Blackford and to say they felt staff were still not adequately protected. Given the victim is entitled to anonymity, there are very few ways they could challenge comments regarding their case. It could be argued that an internal email to help clarify points and raise safeguarding issues, is perfectly acceptable.
Following the email, they received a response from SNP MP Kirsteen Oswald which said that while she:
“fully appreciated that this is a difficult time for you”, they must “cease and desist from sending such further emails with immediate effect”.
“Should you choose to continue to do so, despite the terms of this communication, then it is only fair to put you on notice that this could be treated as misconduct and make you subject to further action under a disciplinary process. It is, of course, very much hoped that will not be necessary.”
Ms Oswald added that she wanted to;
“stress my concern for your well-being and have already suggested a number of ways in which, as your employer, we may be able to support you”.
Finishing by saying;
“in the meantime, as a protective measure given you are on long-term sick leave, want to confirm that your access to work email is being temporarily suspended”.
When Boris Johnson has just been forced to resign for protecting Chris Pincher from sexual assault allegations, it is a wonder the SNP chose to take this course of action. What it does highlight is that staffers in Westminster need better employment protections and mechanisms to ensure they are safe in the workplace.
The SNP refused to comment on this as it relates to staffing which is confidential.
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