A leaked recording of SNP MPs supporting Patrick Grady after he was found to have acted inappropriately towards a member of party staff has been condemned as “utterly unacceptable” by Nicola Sturgeon.
The Glasgow North MP was suspended from the Commons for two days and from the SNP until his suspension was served after the independent investigation was concluded.
Last week, an audio recording was released by the Scottish Sun of an SNP Westminster group meeting during which leader Ian Blackford said he looked forward to bringing Mr Brady back into the fold and calling on other party MPs to support him.
Fellow SNP MPs Amy Callaghan and Marion Fellows also said colleagues should support Mr Grady.
Ms Callaghan has since issued a fulsome apology for her remarks.
In an interview with STV, Mr Blackford said it is up to Mr Grady to “reflect on his behaviour” and position as MP following the investigation.
In her first comment on the recording, the First Minister said it “reveals part of what was wrong on that case”.
The complainer has repeatedly hit out at the SNP, for whom he still works, over its handling of the issue, saying his life has been made a “living hell” and raising the possibility of legal action.
Questioned on the issue by Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross at First Minister’s Questions on Thursday, Ms Sturgeon said: “What I have heard suggests that more concern was shown for the perpetrator of this behaviour than the victim of it.
“I think that is utterly unacceptable and that is something I will be very clear about.”
Ms Sturgeon also said she had been subjected to two years of “pretty gruelling investigation” because she “refused to brush certain things under the carpet” – eluding to the inquiry over the botched handling of an investigation into allegations of inappropriate behaviour against her predecessor Alex Salmond.
The First Minister also said: “All parties have faced this – there are two (Westminster) by-elections happening today because of behaviour on the part of Conservative MPs.
“All parties have faced this, all parties have been criticised, including in these cases for their handling of these matters, and I think it is important for all of us – and I will simply speak for myself – that somebody in my position should not sit in a glass house throwing stones about these things.
“We should sort these things out when they arise in our own parties, that’s what I intend to do for the SNP and I think it’s what all leaders should do when it arises in their parties as well.”
In response, Mr Ross – who also serves as an MP for Moray – said the by-elections were caused by the resignations of the MPs concerned. Imran Ahmed Khan quit after being convicted of sexual assaulting a teenage boy, and Neil Parish resigned after he watched pornography in the House of Commons.
Mr Ross added: “I know the First Minister wants to make this about other parties and other parts of the country, but the fact that we have two by-elections today is because Conservative MPs have been suspended and resigned from Parliament.
“Patrick Grady has been suspended for 48 hours.”
Mr Sturgeon responded: “I think people listening will hear me take these issues extremely seriously, I don’t think they will have heard me try to make it all about other parties, but what they will have heard me say is something all of us must reflect on.
“If I was standing here saying ‘the SNP has got no issues here, it’s all about the Conservatives or Labour’, I would be showing that I do not understand the systemic nature of these issues.”
The First Minister added that if Mr Ross claims such issues are a problem “uniquely for the SNP”, then “he doesn’t understand the systemic society-wide nature of these issues”.
Mr Blackford told STV: “It is up to Patrick Grady to reflect on his behaviour and where he goes from that.
“But the SNP rightly took the decision on the basis of the suspension from Parliament that the SNP would suspend Patrick Grady.”