The Scottish National Party (SNP) declared that it had a “zero tolerance” approach to the sexual harassment of workers. Fine words. Yet the case of Patrick “Groper” Grady shows that these fine words don’t translate into actions.
Grady was banned from the Commons for two days sexual misconduct towards a junior party employee and made a public apology in the House of Commons.
The Glasgow North representative was found to have made unwanted sexual advances to a 19-year-old party worker. The MP, was 36 at the time and the worker’s direct line manager.
Blaming the victim
The Independent Expert Panel (IEP), which investigates allegations of sexual misconduct in Parliament, has been widely criticised for the leniency of the sanction. Amy Killen, a spokesperson for the Women’s Equality Party, criticised how parliament’s independent expert panel dealt with the case. She told The Independent newspaper: “It’s unacceptable that a panel investigating sexual misconduct claims assigns blame to the victim and implies that speaking out will come at a cost: reduced consequences for the perpetrator.”
Ms Killen said placing the onus on the victim “flies in the face of the very idea of justice and reveals the ugly truth of a political system awash with impunity and intimidation.”
She added: “This report is effectively setting up a blueprint to silence and punish victims and is reflective of a political culture that values image over people and justice.”
The IEP sub-panel which considered sanction also said that although MPs are not banned from beginning sexual relationships with staff members, “it is obvious that enormous care must be taken if such relationships are to be entered into”.
Campaigners questioned why this was relevant to the case as the harassment involved unwanted sexual advances, not a relationship.
The victim of Patrick Grady’s sexual harassment has called on the politician to stand down from Parliament. Attacking the sanction applied he said: “I’m bitterly disappointed at such a lenient sanction. It is not only devastating to me but also to other victims of sexual harassment.”
He’s also blasted the SNP for “protecting” the former chief whip.
Secret recording exposes SNP
Newspapers have since obtained and published details about a secret recording of a meeting of the SNP’s Westminster Group which shows them supporting the harasser Grady rather than the victim. This provides strong evidence for the victims claims that the SNP are protecting and supporting “Groper” Grady and don’t care about him.
In the recording, MPs were heard applauding and saying “here, here” amid calls to give shamed Grady their support. Ian Blackford, the SNP Westminster leader told them to give Patrick Grady their “absolute full support”.
The recording was obtained by the Scottish Sun following on from an exclusive article by John Stevens of the Daily Mail and can be listened to here.
Calls for Blackford’s resignation have come from all over the political spectrum.
The Scottish Conservatives issued a statement saying:
“It’s been revealed Ian Blackford orchestrated a campaign to back disgraced SNP MP Patrick Grady, rather than support his young victim.”
Scottish Labour’s Holyrood business manager Neil Bibby 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.
“Victims must know that if they speak out against the powerful in politics they will see justice done – that has not happened in this case.
“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.”
“Patrick Grady should do the only honourable thing and resign his seat immediately.”
Curiously, the Scottish Greens, who are in coalition with the SNP in Scotland and are generally as woke as woke can be, have remained silent on the subject.
Pat Harrington, director of the Third Way think-tank commented: “The SNP stand exposed as hypocrites. They have rallied to protect their cronies and shown that they don’t believe in protecting workers from sexual harassment. This despite their own internal policies and public comments on “zero tolerance”. When it comes to one of their gang it seems that they are quite tolerant of sexual harassment and believe the harasser should be the one given support rather than his victim.”
“The IEP also deserve the criticism they have come into. Their report was skewed against the victim and their sanction against Grady was hardly a sanction at all. It sent out the wrong message to other workers who are thinking of coming forward.”