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SNP complaint handling probe must be transparent, Murray warns Sturgeon

Ian Murray’s letter urges Nicola Sturgeon to ensure the probe is not a ‘whitewash’ (PA)
Ian Murray’s letter urges Nicola Sturgeon to ensure the probe is not a ‘whitewash’ (PA)

A probe into the SNP’s procedures amid sexual misconduct complaints must not be a “whitewash”, shadow Scottish secretary Ian Murray has said.

The Labour MP for Edinburgh South has written to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to urge her to commit to publishing the findings of an independent investigation.

The SNP’s Westminster leader, Ian Blackford, promised an external review into how the party handles misconduct complaints and the support available to staff.

Nicola Sturgeon
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has been urged to ensure the inquiry is entirely independent (PA)

It comes after Mr Blackford faced criticism for his handling of the complaint about the behaviour of SNP MP Patrick Grady.

An independent investigation found the Glasgow North MP behaved inappropriately towards a male party worker and he was suspended from Parliament for two days.

But in a leaked audio recording published by the Scottish Sun, Mr Blackford was heard telling SNP MPs he looked forward to “welcoming Patrick back into the group” and encouraging fellow MPs to give him as much support as possible.

Ms Sturgeon has condemned the recording as “utterly unacceptable”.

Mr Murray warned Ms Sturgeon of a “pattern of behaviour” within her party, where harassment is covered up by senior leadership figures, and said “incredibly serious questions” must be answered.

Ian Blackford
Ian Blackford was recorded calling for SNP MPs to support colleague Patrick Grady, after he was found to have behaved inappropriately towards a party worker (PA)

In his letter, he continued: “I am therefore writing to you to urge you to ensure the independent review into party procedures, promised by Ian Blackford, upholds the highest standards of independence and transparency.

“We need a full independent investigation to ensure victims of sexual misconduct can have confidence in your party and its leadership.

“However, given the SNP’s history of secrecy and cover-up, I am seeking reassurance that this review will not simply be a whitewash.

“I hope that you will confirm that this will be a truly independent and comprehensive investigation and give a commitment that the findings will be published.”

On Thursday, Mr Blackford said his party handled the issue correctly, in line with Westminster procedures.

In an interview with STV, he said it is up to Mr Grady to “reflect on his behaviour” and where he goes from there.

An SNP spokesman said: “Nicola Sturgeon has made it clear the SNP will reflect carefully on these issues and she has given an absolute assurance that if party processes need to change to live up to the standards that all of us expect, then they will be changed.

“Every organisation, including all political parties, has an obligation to do so.”