The SNP's Westminster leader has abandoned his support for an MP found guilty of sexual misconduct and urged him to consider his position, only hours after Nicola Sturgeon was savaged over the party's stance.
Ian Blackford, who was recorded last week urging SNP MPs to rally around Patrick Grady, said the Glasgow North MP should now “reflect on his behaviour and where he goes from here”.
He also told STV News that Mr Grady’s future was “a question for his constituency party”, implying he may not be reselected as a candidate for the next general election.
His sudden about-turn followed multiple calls that Mr Blackford should resign for offering more support to Mr Grady than his victim, who was 19 when the MP, now 42, made an unwanted advance under the influence of alcohol in 2016.
The withdrawal of support for the Glasgow North MP came only hours after Ms Sturgeon came under fire at First Minister's Questions over her record of dealing with sexual harassment complaints against senior SNP figures.
She said Mr Blackford retained her support but admitted that the leaked recording of him rallying support for Mr Grady was "utterly unacceptable" and offered to meet the victim, having already written to him.
Jeopardised her career
Ms Sturgeon argued her conduct in the Alex Salmond case demonstrated that she would not sweep such allegations "under the carpet" even when they jeopardised her own political career.
But Anas Sarwar, the Scottish Labour leader, questioned how this tallied with Mr Grady twice being nominated as an SNP election candidate after his victim complained to the party.
He was also promoted to chief whip and led the party in a Commons debate on harassment. He only stood down as chief whip after his victim lodged a complaint with the Commons authorities in 2021, frustrated at the party's inaction.
Last year two female civil servants who made harassment complaints against Mr Salmond also said they had been "dropped" by Ms Sturgeon's government after it lost a judicial review case brought by the former first minister.
In his first media interview since the recording of him supporting Mr Grady was leaked, Mr Blackford said the SNP had taken the same "proportionate" decision as the Commons authorities by suspending him for two days.
Challenged why the Nationalists did not oust the MP, he said: “It’s up to Patrick Grady to reflect on his behaviour and where he goes from here. But the SNP rightly took the decision on the basis of the suspension from Parliament that the SNP would suspend Patrick Grady.”
Pressed if he thought Mr Grady should consider his position he did not demur, saying: "Anyone who has gone through a process such as this has got to carefully reflect on what has happened to them.”
In a separate interview with the BBC, he alluded to the case of Carl Sargeant, a Welsh politician who took his own life following allegations about his behaviour.
Mr Blackford said: "Let's not forget that it's not that long ago that a member of the Welsh Parliament committed suicide on the back of an incident not so dissimilar from this, and it's important that I discharge all of my responsibilities."