AN SNP MSP is locked in a legal battle with a former employee amid claims his office was a “hostile and humiliating environment” to work in.

Stuart McMillan is facing claims of unfair dismissal and sex and disability discrimination from ex-case worker Philomena Donnachie, who alleges she was regularly “belittled” and “undermined” in the Greenock office.

Ms Donnachie, 58, claims she suffered “personal attacks” from office manager Matthew Leitch, who was “confrontational” and “aggressive” towards her, leading to her taking almost a year off due to work-related stress.

At an employment tribunal in Glasgow, her solicitor Brian McLaughlin explained that her case includes a claim her employer “violated her dignity by creating a hostile and humiliating environment for her”.

The tribunal heard that Ms Donnachie, who suffers from fibromyalgia and irritable bowel syndrome, began working for the politician after meeting him during the independence referendum.

She told how she was very passionate about her job, saying: “It wasn’t just a parliamentary office. It was Stuart, it was the SNP, it was independence. It was a whole philosophy and way of life for me.”

However, in April 2016 she suffered a stroke while working late one night and had to take three months off.

When she returned, Mr Leitch had been appointed as the new office manager and things began to deteriorate from that point.

Mr Leitch began to keep records of her time-keeping and absences and she claimed he became “quite confrontational about it” - despite her regularly working past her finishing time and attending meetings in the evening on behalf of Mr McMillan.

The tribunal heard evidence about an email Mr Leitch sent to Mr McMillan detailing her sickness absence - including the time she had off due to her stroke.

In it, he wrote: “While Phil often stays late to catch up, this is often due to her sickness record and slow pace at which she works.”

Solicitor Brian McLaughlin asked Ms Donnachie if her understanding was that if you were off sick, you had to stay late to make up for that.

She replied: “No. I think it’s outrageous that somebody would suggest that you had to make up time because you’ve been off sick.”

He also asked if anyone had ever spoken to her about working at a “slow pace”. She replied: “No one has ever raise an issue about me working slowly.”

Mr Leitch also suggested in the letter that Ms Donnachie attended meetings in the evening “for a night out”.

Ms Donnachie’s response to that was that she had “better things to do”.

No action was ever taken about any of the issues raised by Mr Leitch.

The tribunal heard that soon after this, Ms Donnachie contacted Mr mcMillan to raise concerns about the way Mr Leitch was treating her.

She told him that she was “desperately trying”to improve her health and this was not helping. However, she said that Mr McMillan never replied.

Ms Donnachie told the tribunal that the manager was “very aggressive” with her during meetings, and regularly talked over her in the office, often repeating things she had already said.

She said this made her feel “belittled” and “undermined”, eventually leading to her going off work due to stress.

Ms Donnachie will continue giving her evidence today, with cross examination by Mr McMillan’s solicitor, Will Rollinson, also due to take place.