Ian Blackford should get ‘proper HR advice’ over handling of complaint – Cherry

The Edinburgh South West MP said the SNP’s Westminster leader should take advice over how the complaint against Patrick Grady was handled.

Ian Blackford in the Commons
Ian Blackford in the Commons

The SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford should “get some proper HR advice” to understand what went wrong in the handling of a complaint against Patrick Grady, one of his MPs has said.

The Glasgow North MP was suspended from the Commons for two days and the SNP for a week after an independent investigation found he had acted inappropriately towards a member of party staff in 2016.

Mr Grady apologised in the Commons over the incident, which the report said happened while he was under the influence of alcohol.

But a recording that surfaced on Friday of an SNP group meeting drew criticism for the leader, who could be heard saying Mr Grady deserved the group’s support upon his return, despite the complainer saying his life had been made a “living hell” and he had not been supported through the process.

The man who complained, who still works for the party, said he was considering legal action against the SNP.

In a response to the leaked recording, Mr Blackford said he “deeply regrets that a member of staff was subject to inappropriate behaviour”.

He added that he was initiating an external review of “support available to staff, to sit alongside the independent advice service and independent complaints process”.

Joanna Cherry, SNP MP for Edinburgh South West, on Wednesday called for Mr Blackford to ensure he took “proper HR advice” on Thursday, after repeating claims that the party had issues in dealing with complaints.

“I think it fair to say that my party has had significant problems with how it handles complaints and we need to reflect on the contrast between the treatment of different offenders and to review our arrangements for the pastoral care of complainers,” she said on BBC Radio Scotland’s Drivetime programme with John Beattie.

“My colleague, Amy Callaghan, wrote to the chief whip earlier this week calling for an external organisation to conduct a root and branch review of the SNP Westminster group’s internal misconduct and harassment structures and I would support that.”

Ms Callaghan could also be heard on the recording calling for colleagues to support Mr Grady – a statement for which she issued an apology on Monday.

Ms Cherry added: “There are certainly questions to be answered about how the complainer was treated previously and I think the best thing for Ian to do would be to get some proper HR advice about that and look back at what went wrong.

“There was a victim in all of this and that victim has said that the process of complaining and having his voice was handled very badly and he felt unsupported and I think it’s very important that Ian as the leader of the group looks at putting this right.”

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