AN SNP MP has admitted being too drunk to remember whether she sexually harassed a junior party staffer, but was cleared regardless on technicalities.

Patricia Gibson, the MP North Ayrshire & Arran, had always vehemently denied the accusation, describing it as “malicious”.

However a Commons report published today, which found the investigation into her conduct has been “procedurally unfair”, reveals she was too drunk to remember accurately.

It said: "Her evidence was (in essence) that she was intoxicated, and therefore unable confidently to recall her exact words and actions.”

Ms Gibson was initially deemed guilty by a standards commissioner of drunkenly propositioning the male SNP staffer in a Commons bar in 2020.

Based on work by an independent investigator, the Commissioner agreed Ms Gibson had repeatedly touched the man and asked him to “come home and shag me”.

The Commissioner found Ms Gibson “subjected the complainant to unwelcome physical contact of a sexual nature in January 2020 in the Stranger’s Bar in the Houses of Parliament when she was drunk, in the context of repeatedly propositioning him in the bar and subsequently.”

The matter was investigated under Westminster’s Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme.

Ms Gibson, 54, had the decision overturned on appeal on a range of technicalities.

Today's report said Ms Gibson continued to deny the allegations, but admitted she was too drunk to be sure.

It said: "The respondent denied, and continues to deny, the allegation.

"Her evidence was (in essence) that she was intoxicated, and therefore unable confidently to recall her exact words and actions.

"The respondent asserted, however, that she would not have stroked the complainant in the manner alleged and would never have used the word 'shag', nor would she have propositioned the complainant."

An Independent Expert Panel concluded the investigator had exceeded their remit and failed to weigh conflicting accounts correctly.

The appeal panel said it had “concluded that the investigator placed too much weight on the complainant’s perception that the touching was sexual. 

“Had the investigator applied the test correctly, then she would have taken account of perceptions of all of the witnesses and may have come to a different conclusion.”

In addition, the investigator made late changes to their report, beefing up conclusions about the MP's conduct being sexual in nature, having previously been more ambiguous.

This included the investigator concluding, on the balance of probabilities, that Ms Gibson had said “come home and shag me”, which went beyond previous draft conclusions.

“No additional reasoning is given as to why the investigator had not previously found these words to have been used when she had completed her investigations and produced the draft report,” the appeal panel said.

The investigator also amended their draft finding of “harassment” to “sexual harassment” without explanation, which the appeal panel said undermined the findings.

It said that amendment “was fundamental to the investigator’s conclusions”. 

It said: “Accordingly, the investigation was procedurally unfair as the investigator failed to adopt a fair and transparent procedure. 

“The respondent was entitled to believe that the conclusions reached in the draft report would remain the conclusions of the investigator, and what occurred amounted to the investigator strengthening her conclusions on issues upon which she had previously been equivocal.”

It concluded: “The flaws in the investigator’s approach were such that the Commissioner was placed in a very difficult position. 

“She could have decided, no doubt with great regret, that the investigation had to be carried out again by another investigator, as she has done on occasion in the past. 

“She could properly have decided that the recommendations of the investigator were insufficiently founded and were flawed, but that there was sufficient primary evidence for her to reach her own conclusions, setting the reasoning and recommendations of the investigator to one side. 

“What she could not properly do, in our view, was to rely on the report and recommendations of this investigation, for the reasons we have given.

“The sub-panel finds that the investigation was materially flawed in a way that affected the decision of the Commissioner.

“In all the circumstances the sub-panel has decided that the respondent’s appeal is upheld on the following ground: The investigation was materially flawed in a way that affected the decision of the Commissioner.

“Therefore, the decision of the Commissioner to uphold Allegation 1 is set aside.”

Last week the same independent panel upheld a sexual misconduct complaint against Patrick Grady, the SNP MP for Glasgow North.

He was suspended by the Commons and the SNP for two days for sexually harassing a male party staffer 17 years his junior in a pub in 2016.

The staffer who complained against Ms Gibson criticised the process and the outcome.

He said: "I’m disappointed that the ICGS investigation, like the SNP’s investigations, have let me down.

"The ICGS have concluded, despite upholding my complaint, that they did not investigate my complaint to a satisfactory standard, and instead of re-investigating, they have closed the case.

"The SNP have admitted that their harassment procedure is not fit for purpose and have launched a review.

"Where does that leave me and other victims of harassment? What fair processes are open to us?

"There is no justice here, for anyone, including victims and survivors of sexual abuse."

Ms Gibson said: "I am grateful to the Independent Expert Panel for its work and comprehensive assessment of this case. I am reassured that the Independent Expert Panel has exonerated me, and has found that I am not guilty and that the investigation into this case was materially flawed.

"I have always maintained my innocence. It has been a very difficult 16 months during which my reputation has been wrongly and repeatedly traduced in the press and on social media, which has also jeopardised my personal safety with threats, abuse and harassment.

"I have found this period extremely traumatic but I am pleased that my reputation has been restored and now wish to draw a line under this matter and look to the future."