SNP MP faces Commons suspension for ‘unwanted sexual advance’ in pub

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SNP MP Patrick Grady should suspended from the Commons for two days for an “unwanted sexual advance” to a junior staff member in a pub, a parliamentary watchdog has recommended.

The Independent Expert Panel (IEP) said the former chief whip’s behaviour marked a “significant breach” of Parliament’s sexual misconduct policy in a ruling on Tuesday.

Investigators examined the behaviour of Mr Grady, who was 36 at the time, towards the then-19-year-old party staff member at a 2016 SNP social event while “under the influence of alcohol”.

An IEP sub-panel recommended Mr Grady should be suspended for two days and should make an “unreserved apology” to the House after the claim was upheld.

But an earlier investigation dismissed eight further allegations against the MP, including under the sexual misconduct and bullying and harassment policies.

The panel said the staffer “must have been disturbed” by the events on October 20 2016, but cited “several mitigating factors”.

This included that Mr Grady “did not persist with, or repeat, his approach once rebuffed” by the man, who was under the employment of the SNP’s Westminster group.

And they considered “breaches of confidentiality” that “had a lasting effect” on the MP after the staff member was said to have been the source of media reports about the complaints.

The IEP concluded: “An unwanted physical touching, with sexual intent, from a senior MP to a junior member of staff, even on a single occasion, is a significant breach of the policy. It must be marked by some period of suspension from the House.

“However, for all the reasons we have set out, in this case it should be short, and will be somewhat shorter than it might have been by reference to the breaches of confidentiality by the complainant.”

Mr Grady stood aside as chief whip after the complaints were formally referred in May 2021.

The report noted that the Commons has not barred all sexual relationships between MPs and staff, but also said disparities in status and power can be highly problematic.

A “second critical factor” noted was that the touching was “clearly sexual in intent” and was “exacerbated by the fact that the context was public, and drink had been taken”.

But the report noted that Mr Grady accepted those points and “made a genuine apology” when confronted with the facts in 2018.

However, the report raised questions about how the apology was handled by SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford.

It said Mr Blackford facilitated an “impromptu informal resolution” meeting where Mr Grady made an informal apology without the prior consultation of the complainant.

“The complainant accepted the apology but made clear in his evidence that the circumstances of the informal resolution were difficult: he felt under pressure to accept the apology and felt ‘ambushed’ by Mr Blackford and Mr Grady, as he had no advance notice of why he was asked to go to Mr Blackford’s office, nor was he told that Mr Grady would be there,” the report said.

“The complainant said he felt intimidated into accepting the apology when put in such a situation with two people who had so much influence over his career.”

It is understood Mr Grady has been placed on administrative suspension before the parliamentary group considers the report on Tuesday night.

Mr Grady, who has been an MP since 2015, has been approached for comment.

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