AN SNP MSP is facing questions over her allegedly "inappropriate” role in the scandal which has caused turmoil in the party’s Westminster group.

Kaukab Stewart, who was elected the MSP for Glasgow Kelvin last year, was the group’s HR manager when the sexual harassment of a male party staffer by Glasgow North MP Patrick Grady came to light.

Despite being the convener of Mr Grady’s SNP branch and a close political ally, she is understood to have been the first senior SNP officer to contact the victim about his experience.

The man, who has threatened legal action against the SNP, told the Herald that Ms Stewart was “the last person” he wanted to talk to because of her links to the Glasgow North MP.

In retrospect, he said he considered it “extremely inappropriate” on her part.

Mr Grady last week apologised to the Commons chamber after a Westminster watchdog upheld a complaint of sexual misconduct against him

It found he touched and stroked the neck, hair and back of the staffer, who was then 19, at a work social event in a pub in 2016.

Mr Grady, who was 36 at the time was found to have “made an unwanted sexual advance” while “under the influence of alcohol”.

He was suspended from the Commons and the SNP for two days.

The episode convulsed the SNP group at Westminster, with some MPs feeling Mr Blackford badly mishandled the affair.

A leaked recording revealed Mr Blackford had urged his colleagues to give Mr Grady their “absolute full support” after the finding, despite the Sky MP boasting in 2017 that the SNP’s Westminster group would have a “zero tolerance of unacceptable behaviour”.

It led to Unionist parties demanding he step down as group leader.

HeraldScotland:

After days of silence, Mr Blackford finally issued an apology on Tuesday evening in an attempt to draw a line under the matter.

He expressed his regret at the “completely unacceptable” experience Mr Grady’s victim went through, and that he subsequently felt let down by the party. 

He promised an external review of the support available to the SNP staff.

Mr Grady’s victim said the aplologgy was a “stunt” designed to save Mr Blackford’s job.

Now the Herald can reveal Ms Stewart’s role in the affair while she was HR manager for the SNP’s Westminster group.

It is understood Ms Stewart called the complainant and asked him to her office in February 2018, where she told him she was aware of an alleged incident involving Mr Grady.

The man told Ms Stewart it was true but that he didn’t want anything done about it, partly because he feared it could damage his career.

However later the same day, SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford contacted the man and arranged a meeting which the staffer described as an “ambush” as Mr Blackford also brought Mr Grady to the meeting, where he apologised. Ms Stewart was not present.

According to the watchdog’s report, the staffer “felt under pressure to accept the apology and felt ‘ambushed’ by Mr Blackford and Mr Grady, as he had no advance notice of why he was asked to go to Mr Blackford’s office, nor was he told that Mr Grady would be there.

“The complainant said he felt intimidated into accepting the apology when put in such a situation with two people who had so much influence over his career. 

“The complainant considers this matter to have been mishandled by the SNP leadership. 

“It is right to state that the respondent had no hand in arranging this meeting. 

“He did tell us, however, that at the time and for some period afterwards, he regarded this matter as having been informally resolved by the meeting in February 2018.” 

The complainant told the Herald: “I felt the last person I wanted to talk to about the harassment was Patrick Grady’s branch convener. 

“Looking back it was extremely inappropriate for her to be HR manager of the Westminster Group given her role in the Party at the time.”

Ms Stewart went on to campaign for Mr Grady’s re-election in the 2019 general election.

On the official statement of persons nominated for the Glasgow North constituency, she appears as Mr Grady’s seconder.

After Mr Grady held the seat, she posted a picture of herself with him on social media congratulating him and adding “all those endless canvassing sessions were worth it!”

A year later, Mr Stewart threw his support behind Ms Stewart’s bid to enter Holyrood, providing a glowing endorsement in the internal selection contest to choose the candidate for Glasgow Kelvin.

He said he had “seen Kaukab in action of the Convener of the local branch for the last four years” and “she has first-hand experience of the SNP operation at Westminster”.

He added: “Kaukab’s got what it takes to be a first-class candidate and a first-class MSP for Glasgow Kelvin.”

The pair also recorded a video together to promote her candidacy.

Ms Stewart won the seat with a majority of 5,458 votes over Green Patrick Harvie.

An SNP spokesperson said: "Ms Stewart discharged her HR duties to the highest professional standards and with the appropriate duty of care."