A former SNP councillor who won damages after being falsely accused of racism has accused party chiefs of failing her.
Julie McAnulty says she was forced to go to court because of the lack of action by her party.
She was awarded a £40,000 defamation payout after suing fellow activist Sheena McCulloch over the slur, which was branded “outrageous” by Judge Lord Uist.
The malicious allegation – made during bitter feuding in a branch of the party – was reported to senior party figures, including chief executive Peter Murrell, the husband of leader Nicola Sturgeon.
Ms McAnulty believes the matter could have been dealt with “quickly and effectively” by the SNP’s own internal procedures.
But she said her only option was to take the civil court action after being told the party’s HQ would not help her clear her name.
She said: “It should never have got to the stage which it did and could have been very easily dealt with by the SNP’s own internal procedures. For whatever reason they were not willing to do that, so I had no option but to take the action that I did to clear my name.”
The racism allegation was raised by Ms McCulloch in a letter to SNP compliance manager Ian McCann and copied to Mr Murrell and then-national secretary Patrick Grady.
It followed years of bitter infighting in the SNP in North Lanarkshire.
On one side was Ms McAnulty and new members who rallied around Phil Boswell, the former MP for Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill.
On the other, a so-called “old guard” of Richard Lyle, MSP for Uddingston and Bellshill, Fulton MacGregor, now MSP for Coatbridge and Allan Stubbs, now a North Lanarkshire councillor.
Ms McAnulty was working for Mr Boswell, while Ms McCulloch is a caseworker for Mr Lyle.
In February 2016, she was accused of using a derogatory word for Asians during a car trip the previous year.
Ms McAnulty said: “It has been very rough. It has been three years and I never thought I was going to see the end of it.
“I knew politically I was finished at that point but I had to consider that any decent employer has an equality and diversity policy and if I am accused of racism, it was going to affect my future and being able to go and get a job. The stress of it has been unbelievable.
“It has been such an unpleasant, such a public thing.”
In his judgement last week, Lord Uist stated the accusation was part of a campaign against her by an “opposing faction within the local SNP”.
He said it was designed to prevent her being nominated as a candidate for the Scottish Parliament and “possibly to oust her from the party.”
Ms McAnulty’s case was backed in court by SNP councillor Steven Bonnar, who told the court nothing racist was said during the car journey.
In his judgement, Lord Uist noted Mr Bonnar was on his first day of campaigning and had “no axe to grind and no reason whatsoever to lie.”
He added: “He was a guileless greenhorn in the world of local politics, unused to its scheming machinations.”
North Lanarkshire Council depute leader, Labour’s Paul Kelly, said: “It is clear that SNP headquarters should immediately conduct a full investigation of the elected members who played their part in this scandal.”
The Scottish Conservatives said the conduct of the SNP in the area had been an “ongoing disgrace”.
The SNP declined to comment while Ms McCulloch could still appeal the decision.