SNP MP Amy Callaghan apologises for attempting to rally support for sex pest colleague Patrick Grady

Fresh pressure was piled on the SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford tonight after one of his MPs apologised for attempting to rally support for a sex pest colleague.

Amy Callaghan, the MP for East Dunbartonshire, revealed she had been ‘searingly reflective’ as she issued a ‘wholehearted apology’.

It came after she was recorded telling her SNP colleagues they should be ‘rallying together’ around Patrick Grady, who was last week suspended from the House of Commons for two days for sexual misconduct.

But Mr Blackford – who is facing demands to quit after the same leaked recording also caught him urging SNP MPs to support Mr Grady – remained silent.

Mr Grady, a former SNP chief whip at Westminster, made an unwanted sexual advance towards a 19-year-old male member of staff.

The Glasgow North MP, now 42, was found to have touched and stroked the neck, hair and back of the teenager at a London pub in 2016.

He was found guilty by a Westminster watchdog of a ‘significant breach’ of Parliament’s sexual misconduct policy.

In a statement posted on Twitter, Ms Callaghan today offered her apology to ‘anyone – especially survivors of harassment – who has been hurt or triggered as a result of this week’.

She added: ‘I am both sorry and, ultimately, take full responsibility for my words, as insensitive, poorly worded and misplaced as they were.

‘I’m taking full accountability for the hurt and disappointment I’ve caused, not least of all to those directly impacted by sexual misconduct in this case.’

Amy Callaghan, the MP for East Dunbartonshire, revealed she had been ‘searingly reflective’ as she issued a ‘wholehearted apology’

In a statement posted on Twitter, Ms Callaghan today offered her apology to 'anyone - especially survivors of harassment - who has been hurt or triggered as a result of this week'

In a statement posted on Twitter, Ms Callaghan today offered her apology to ‘anyone – especially survivors of harassment – who has been hurt or triggered as a result of this week’

Patrick Grady was last week suspended from the House of Commons for two days for sexual misconduct

Patrick Grady was last week suspended from the House of Commons for two days for sexual misconduct

The SNP's Westminster leader Ian Blackford is facing demands to quit after the leaked recording also caught him urging SNP MPs to support Mr Grady

The SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford is facing demands to quit after the leaked recording also caught him urging SNP MPs to support Mr Grady

In the leaked recording, obtained by the Daily Mail, Ms Callaghan was heard telling a gathering of SNP MPs last week: ‘Regardless of our position on Patrick’s situation, we should be rallying together around him to support him at this time as well.’

Mr Blackford could also be heard asking MPs to ‘deliver as much support as possible’ to Mr Grady.

‘He’s going to face a number of challenges over the short term and so he should have our absolute full support,’ he said.

‘I for one very much look forward to welcoming Patrick back into the group next week. I am sure that everybody here will agree.’

Mr Blackford previously promised Mr Grady’s victim he would show a ‘zero tolerance’ attitude to abuse.

It has been revealed how the SNP threatened its own MPs with legal action over the leak of the tape to the Daily Mail.

According to the Times, the current SNP chief whip Owen Thompson told MPs in a late-night email that parliamentary security had been informed of the leak from a private meeting. 

Opposition parties have demanded that Mr Blackford either resign or be sacked by SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon as the crisis over Mr Grady engulfs the party’s top ranks. 

Scottish Labour’s Neil Bibby said: ‘The only investigation the SNP should be launching is into their own failures to protect staff in this tawdry case.

‘That SNP MPs stood and applauded one of their colleagues after he admitted abusing his position to take sexual advantage of a staff member is disgusting.

‘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.

‘There are serious questions for the SNP about whether Patrick Grady is being treated so lamely compared to others because of his closeness to the SNP establishment.’

And Scottish Tory MP John Lamont added: ‘Ian Blackford must break his silence and explain why he has taken no action to prevent sexual harassment in the SNP Westminster Group.

‘Instead of acting as we requested more than a year ago, he has treated a disgraced MP with more sympathy than the victim who suffered harassment.’

Today the Daily Mail revealed Mr Blackford told the young SNP staff member he would take a ‘zero-tolerance approach to inappropriate behaviour’.

Instead he was secretly recorded last week urging MPs to rally around Grady.

The victim, who is still a party employee, said: ‘Ian Blackford has broken his promise to take a zero-tolerance approach to sexual harassment.

‘No one can believe a word he says any more. My fear is the way he has handled this will discourage victims from coming forward in future. This has been a betrayal.’

Mr Blackford was made aware of the allegations in February 2018 but he kept Grady as chief whip at Westminster for a further three years.

Mr Blackford previously promised Mr Grady's victim he would show a 'zero tolerance' attitude to abuse

Mr Blackford previously promised Mr Grady’s victim he would show a ‘zero tolerance’ attitude to abuse 

A Westminster probe concluded last week that Mr Grady had made 'unwanted sexual advances' to the male party worker, who was just 19 years old at the time

A Westminster probe concluded last week that Mr Grady had made ‘unwanted sexual advances’ to the male party worker, who was just 19 years old at the time

‘That SNP MPs stood and applauded one of their colleagues after he admitted abusing his position to take sexual advantage of a staff member is disgusting.

‘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.

‘There are serious questions for the SNP about whether Patrick Grady is being treated so lamely compared to others because of his closeness to the SNP establishment.’

And Scottish Tory MP John Lamont added: ‘Ian Blackford must break his silence and explain why he has taken no action to prevent sexual harassment in the SNP Westminster Group.

‘Instead of acting as we requested more than a year ago, he has treated a disgraced MP with more sympathy than the victim who suffered harassment.’

In the recording, obtained by the Mail, Mr Blackford can be heard asking MPs to ‘deliver as much support as possible’ to Mr Grady.

‘He’s going to face a number of challenges over the short term and so he should have our absolute full support,’ the head of the SNP in London added.

‘I for one very much look forward to welcoming Patrick back into the group next week. I am sure that everybody here will agree.’

The Mail revealed Mr Blackford told the young SNP staff member he would take a ‘zero-tolerance approach to inappropriate behaviour’. Instead he was secretly recorded last week urging MPs to rally around Grady.

The victim, who is still a party employee, said: ‘Ian Blackford has broken his promise to take a zero-tolerance approach to sexual harassment. No one can believe a word he says any more. My fear is the way he has handled this will discourage victims from coming forward in future. This has been a betrayal.’

Mr Blackford was made aware of the allegations in February 2018 but he kept Grady as chief whip at Westminster for a further three years.

Mr Grady finally stepped down from the post on March 9, 2021 when the complaint was made public.

It can be revealed that Mr Blackford wrote to SNP staff, including the victim, two days later to promise he would tackle the problem of harassment.

In an email sent on March 11, 2021, which has been obtained by the Mail, he said: ‘Following the news of allegations of sexual harassment, I want to write and offer reassurance that the SNP Westminster Group has a zero-tolerance approach to inappropriate behaviour.’ His email added: ‘I am clear that the welfare of our staff is paramount.’

But Mr Blackford has now been accused of failing to keep his promise by directing the party’s MPs to give their ‘absolute full support’ to Grady.

At a meeting of the SNP’s parliamentary group last Tuesday, it was decided that Grady should only lose the party whip until he has completed a two-day suspension from the Commons.

A recording obtained by the Mail reveals how Mr Blackford celebrated the choice to allow Mr Grady to remain as a Nationalist MP only 15 minutes after it was agreed.

Following the decision, he told the party group that he ‘would encourage’ them to give ‘as much support as possible’ to their shamed colleague.

‘He’s going to face a number of challenges over the short term and so he should have our absolute full support,’ Mr Blackford said. ‘I for one very much look forward to welcoming Patrick back into the group next week. I am sure that everybody here will agree.’

In the bombshell tape, the gathering of the parliamentary group can be heard shouting ‘hear, hear’ at a call from Ms Callaghan, another SNP frontbencher, for Mr Grady to be supported.

According to the Times, the current SNP chief whip Owen Thompson told MPs in a late-night email that parliamentary security had been informed of the leak from a private meeting

According to the Times, the current SNP chief whip Owen Thompson told MPs in a late-night email that parliamentary security had been informed of the leak from a private meeting

Scottish Conservative Party chairman Craig Hoy said: ‘This email confirms that the SNP have seriously warped priorities when it comes to handling severe misconduct. Ian Blackford must now resign as Westminster leader or be sacked.

Scottish Labour’s Mr Bibby said: ‘Ian Blackford and the SNP’s promise to support staff and show zero tolerance to abusers lies in tatters.

‘Instead the SNP has closed ranks, sidelined victims and tried to intimidate anyone who wanted the truth to come to light. This disgraceful behaviour from Grady and Blackford is unacceptable. Nicola Sturgeon can no longer ignore the actions of her Westminster group.’

Angus Robertson, who led SNP MPs at Westminster for a decade before losing his seat to the Tories in 2017, revealed he had spoken to his successor about the ‘very difficult’ situation but rejected any call for him to quit.

The Scottish Government’s Constitution Secretary told the BBC’s Sunday Show: ‘There has to be a way back for people while at the same time supporting people who’ve been treated inappropriately.’

Asked if he thought Mr Blackford should resign for his role in orchestrating a show of support for Mr Grady, Mr Robertson added: ‘No I don’t.

Challenged about the broken promise for zero tolerance, a spokesman for the SNP Westminster parliamentary group said: ‘Staff and MPs have been offered pastoral support throughout this process.’

A Scottish Government minister also said Mr Blackford should not resign.

Neil Gray, who was MP for Airdrie and Shotts from 2015 to 2021, however, said he believed the sanctions on Mr Grady were ‘right’.

When asked if he believed Mr Blackford and Mr Grady should resign, he said: ‘No, I think there was an independent process that was set up and agreed by all parties at Westminster that ensured that people who had complaints were able to come forward and have them considered in an independent fashion.

‘That process concluded that there was a sanction to be meted out on Patrick Grady which was absolutely right and the SNP group at Westminster mirrored that sanction.

‘So, I think now what’s important is ensuring that all parties concerned – obviously my first thought is with the complainant – and ensuring they have the support that they require, but that all parties have the pastoral support that is required going forward and that, obviously, following incidents like this, we always reflect and ensure that our processes as a party or Westminster group are as responsive as possible and make sure that we learn any lessons that are necessary.’

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk

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