A senior SNP MP has hit back at bullying allegations in a series of social media posts, as she condemned the claims as “politically motivated smears” and accused party bosses of a lack of support.

Joanna Cherry, QC, made the remarks as a former caseworker for the politician broke cover and insisted “people should know the truth”.

Iona Paton told The Herald on Sunday: “I couldn’t stay silent any more when she started saying she was the victim of online bullying, when she knew she was dealing with all these complaints of bullying against her and [office manager] Fraser.”

It came after Ms Cherry spoke out about online abuse and revealed she was given police protection after receiving an apparent death threat.

The Edinburgh South West MP, who is the SNP’s justice and home affairs spokeswoman in Westminster, has denied allegations by several former employees. 

She is accused of condoning alleged bullying by her office manager Fraser Thompson. Complaints were reportedly lodged with the House of Commons 
last August.

Former staffer Ms Paton, who is one of those to have made claims, said she was “frustrated” the process was taking so long. 

Ms Cherry was previously the subject of a separate complaint by a senior Westminster SNP employee, which she described as a “historic matter” and “spurious and politically motivated”. 

A professional mediator was brought in, but no further action was taken after an investigation. 

The MP told The Herald on Sunday: “I am not and never have been a bully. Fraser Thompson is not a bully either. I believe these to be politically motivated smears.”

Mr Thompson said: “In common with all people managers, in my role I have 
to deal with difficult situations. I am confident staff were treated appropriately and managed in line with House of Commons HR policy and practice.”

Ian Blackford, the SNP’s Westminster leader, said he did not know any details of the bullying allegations, and insisted it was a matter for the Commons authorities.

Scottish Conservative deputy leader Jackson Carlaw said: “It’s clear today that the SNP is in open warfare. Nicola Sturgeon needs to exercise some of her much-diminished authority and fast.”

Yesterday, Ms Cherry dismissed the allegations in a series of Twitter posts, in which she also hit out at the SNP’s leadership and called for “unity behind the independence cause”.

She linked to an article in the pro-independence Sunday National newspaper that reported her comments, and added: “It is not for SNP employees paid for by the party or parliamentary staff paid for by the public purse to take to Twitter to air their grievances or to go to the newspapers. They should use proper procedures and behave in a professional fashion.”

She later added: “Lies are being told about me in some newspapers today. At present I’m not able to give my side of the story. I hope to be in a position to do so soon. Meantime, I’m overwhelmed by the support from constituents, SNP members & Yessers. Thank you.”

She called the allegations “politically motivated smears arising from SNP infighting”. 

In another tweet, she said the “support from constituents and members of the public who are not necessarily pro-Indy has been extremely heartening for me and my wonderful chief of staff @FraserDThompson and makes a nice contrast with lack of support from SNP hierarchy”. 

The high-profile MP also retweeted numerous messages of support, including ones insisting the “establishment” will not succeed in trying to smear her and suggesting the SNP was going to hang her out to dry. 

An SNP spokesman said it takes its welfare responsibilities “extremely seriously”, adding: “We do not comment on individual employment matters.”