A FORMER SNP activist has called for all parties to act against sexual misconduct in their youth wings after revealing he was assaulted on a Young Scots for Independence trip overseas.

Jack Boag said he never complained about being groped in a bar as his attacker was able to use the party’s own rules to shield himself, saying it was as if “they could do no wrong”.

The incident took place on a 2018 visit to Brussels run by YSI, the SNP’s under-30s wing, and the perpetrator continued to be active in the group.

However Mr Boag, 22, stressed other parties suffered from similar problems, and it would be “hypocritical” if political opponents tried to “weaponise” the issue against the SNP. 

Writing on Twitter about his experience yesterday, the post-graduate history student said: “Weaponisation of this story for party political ends will not change anything. This isn’t an SNP problem, it’s a politics problem. 

“Youth wings can often be incredibly cliquey and as such, there are people who can do no wrong. Those…in the circle are able to use that system to protect themselves.

“I was sexually assaulted at a YSI  event and the reason I never launched a complaint was having seen my assaulter use those mechanisms to protect themself. They could do no wrong. 

“But this is not unique to the YSI, you hear these stories in Young Labour, Young Liberals, everywhere. 

“To weaponise this against the SNP from another political party is hypocritical. Toxic youth wing culture will only die if every party collectively chooses to kill it.”

Mr Boag, who left the SNP last year, told the Herald the party should replace its internal member conduct mechanisms, as all previous attempts at trying to reform them had failed because they were not radical enough.

Agreeing to be identified, he said: “Specifically on youth wings, very clear safeguarding systems need to be in place that recognise the power dynamics of what are essentially hierarchical organisations, with more oversight from party officials as to the efficacy of that safeguarding. 

“Right now I would not trust anyone previously involved in complaints and safeguarding to do that job going forward.”

Mr Boag did not consider complaining about being groped at the time, and it was only after talking it over with friends much later that he realised it had been assault.

However by then he viewed the person responsible as being effectively insulated from any complaint.

An SNP spokesperson said: “We will seek to make contact with the individual who tweeted about their experiences to see if they would wish to pursue the matter.”

HeraldScotland:

Mr Boag published his account amid a row over Jordan Linden, the new SNP leader of North Lanarkshire Council.

The Sunday Mail reported that Cllr Linden was accused of making unwanted sexual advances to a teenager while drunk at a party in Dundee in September 2019.

Although it did not result in a formal complaint, the paper said SNP HQ were aware of the allegation, which followed a gay pride march in the city, and tried to contact the alleged victim.

In his Twitter posts, Mr Boag said he had spoken to the Sunday Mail, but stressed he was not the victim of the alleged assault it reported.

He also told the Herald that Cllr Linden, who was on the YSI Brussels trip, was not the person who groped him.

Last month Glasgow MP Patrick Grady quit the SNP after a Commons watchdog found he had made unwanted sexual advances to a young male party staffer while drunk in 2016.

Nicola Sturgeon apologised for the way the man was let down by the party.

In the wake of the findings, the YSI called for a review of the party’s complaints procedures “at all levels”, and steps to ensure that members had proper support during and after the complaints procedure.

Tory MSP Annie Wells said: “I salute the courage of this individual in speaking out and he is right that this is not a problem unique to his party.

“However, he highlights what seems to be a common thread in these cases involving SNP figures – namely that the culture and mechanisms in the party for dealing with sexual misconduct seem to protect powerful perpetrators and work against vulnerable victims.

“It’s clear from the Patrick Grady case and others that the SNP’s instinct is to close ranks behind the wrong person, rather than the wronged person – and that’s unacceptable. 

“Their complaints procedure is unfair and unsafe.

“It’s essential that all political parties have structures in place to ensure that victims of predatory behaviour can have confidence their complaints will be dealt with seriously and sympathetically.”

The Scottish Liberal Democrats said: "The SNP have been the subject of a series of misconduct and harassment scandals and what's even worse is that party leaders like Ian Blackford have chosen to push them under the carpet. 

“There should be no place for this kind of behaviour in politics or anywhere else. We take the safety of our members extremely seriously which is why we have a rigorous and independent complaints process in place."