SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford has been called on to step down after it was reported he and MPs from the party’s group offered their “absolute, full support” to shamed Patrick Grady. 

The Scottish Conservatives said that Mr Blackford “cannot remain” in his post after it was reported a recording had emerged of the senior politician telling MPs he “would encourage” them to give “as much support as possible” to former  Mr Grady. 

A Former SNP Chief Whip at Westminster, Patrick Grady has been suspended from the Commons for two days after an independent investigation found he had breached Parliament’s sexual misconduct policy. 

A report into his conduct said that the Glasgow North MP had “made an unwanted sexual advance to the complainant that included the touching and stroking of the complainant’s neck, hair, and back”, with the report adding he was “under the influence of alcohol” at the SNP social event in 2016. 

The man he targeted, who was 19 at the time, said he is “bitterly disappointed” at the “lenient” sanction. 

The complainant also criticised the SNP’s handling of the situation, saying he has been made to feel as though it is his fault, and said his life has been a “living hell”. 

During a meeting last week it was also decided that the SNP whip would be withdrawn from Mr Grady during his two-day suspension. 

However, it has been reported that the meeting also heard Mr Blackford and other MPs call for the party to rally round Mr Grady when he returns.

HeraldScotland:  Ian Blackford 

The Daily Mail reports that in a recording of the meeting passed to the paper, Mr Blackford says: “He’s going to face a number of challenges over the short term and so he should have our absolute full support. 

“I for one very much look forward to welcoming Patrick back into the group next week. I am sure that everybody here will agree.” 

In the tape, MPs applauded other SNP frontbenchers speaking in support of Mr Grady, with Amy Callaghan, the party’s pensions spokesman, saying: “We should be rallying together around him to support him at this time.”

It is claimed her comments were greeted with a shout of ‘hear, hear’ and loud clapping. 

The SNP leadership was made aware of the allegations against Grady in February 2018, but he remained as chief whip at Westminster for a further three years.  

He finally stepped down from the post in May 2021 after a formal investigation was launched by the Commons authorities. 

Nicola Sturgeon said there is an “absolute assurance” that the SNP will “reflect” on its internal processes in the wake of Mr Grady’s suspension. 

Speaking to STV news on Thursday, the First Minister said: “One of the things that is so important here is that when people suffer this kind of behaviour… that the process they go through should not make the experience or the trauma that they have suffered worse. 

“If any complainer feels that is the case then whatever organisation that has been at stake here, they have to reflect on that and I give an absolute assurance that the SNP will.” 

HeraldScotland:

Nicola Sturgeon and Patrick Grady, far right

In the light of the Daily Mai’s report, Scottish Conservative deputy leader Meghan Gallacher called for Ian Blackford to step down. She said: "Patrick Grady's unacceptable misconduct involving a teenage SNP staffer amounted to a huge breach of trust. 

“Ever since this complaint was first raised the SNP have been evasive and sought to sweep it under the carpet.   

"Then, Blackford and his colleagues were shamefully mealy-mouthed in condemning Patrick Grady when the brave victim was vindicated this week.” 

She added: "Now we know why. There was an orchestrated campaign from the very top of the SNP to back Patrick Grady – rather than support the young victim. 

"Grady should have been properly censured by the SNP. Ian Blackford should resign for his appalling lack of judgement; and, if not, Nicola Sturgeon should sack him." 

A spokesman for the SNP Westminster group said: "Staff and MPs have been offered pastoral support throughout this process.  

“The group has a duty to ensure the personal welfare of all involved, including the impact on mental health and well-being.”