SNP's Ian Blackford facing calls to quit over Grady sexual misconduct
The SNP's Westminster leader Ian Blackford is facing calls for his resignation amid reports he instructed party colleagues to rally around shamed MP Patrick Grady.
Grady made an apology in the Commons earlier this week after breaching the parliament’s sexual misconduct policy.
An expert panel found Grady had made an unwanted sexual advance to a teenage member of staff during a 2016 work event.
The commissioner had found that Grady, who represents Glasgow North, had touched and stroked the complainant's neck, hair, and back at the event, which was held in a pub. Grady did not appeal that finding.
Grady, 42, was handed a two-day suspension from the Commons.
According to reports, the party's MPs have been directed to give their "absolute full support" to Grady.
SNP MP Patrick Grady made an apology in the Commons earlier this week
In a recording leaked to the Daily Mail, Blackford reportedly told MPs to rally around Grady.
Scottish Labour's Neil Bibby MSP said: "That Ian Blackford and SNP MPs would stand and applaud after one of their colleagues admitted abusing his position to take sexual advantage of a staff member is disgusting.
"There is no place in politics for men who turn a blind eye to abuse because it has been perpetrated by a friend.
"Mr Blackford is leader of the UK's third party and close ally of the First Minister, he must stand aside.
"From the start, the SNP have behaved in a way that is disgraceful - closing ranks and intimidating people who tried to bring this story to light.
"That they are now celebrating that Patrick Grady will escape with just a slap on the wrist is beneath contempt."
Scottish Conservative deputy leader Meghan Gallacher said: "Ian Blackford cannot remain as leader of the SNP at Westminster.
"Patrick Grady's unacceptable misconduct involving a teenage SNP staffer amounted to a huge breach of trust.
“Ever since this complaint was first raised the SNP have been evasive and sought to sweep it under the carpet.
"Then, Blackford and his colleagues were shamefully mealy-mouthed in condemning Patrick Grady when the brave victim was vindicated this week.
"Now we know why. There was an orchestrated campaign from the very top of the SNP to back Patrick Grady – rather than support the young victim.
"Grady should have been properly censured by the SNP. Ian Blackford should resign for his appalling lack of judgement; and, if not, Nicola Sturgeon should sack him."
The SNP has been approached for comment.