Former party chief whip Patrick Grady said he was ‘profoundly sorry’ for the behaviour which has left him facing a Commons suspension.
14 June 2022
An MP who made an “unwanted sexual advance” on a teenage staff member faces a two-day suspension from the Commons.
SNP MP Patrick Grady said he was “profoundly sorry” for his behaviour after being found to have breached Parliament’s sexual misconduct policy.
Investigators examined the behaviour of Mr Grady, who was 36 at the time, towards the then-19-year-old party staff member at a 2016 SNP social event while “under the influence of alcohol”.
The Glasgow North MP “made an unwanted sexual advance to the complainant that included the touching and stroking of the complainant’s neck, hair, and back”, a report into his conduct said.
The recommendation that he should be suspended for two days came from the Independent Expert Panel (IEP), which looks at cases of sexual misconduct.
The IEP said the former chief whip’s behaviour marked a “significant breach” of Parliament’s sexual misconduct policy in a ruling on Tuesday.
In a personal statement to the Commons, Mr Grady said: “I am profoundly sorry for my behaviour and I deeply regret my actions and their consequences.
“Any breach of the behaviour code and associated policies risks bringing this House into disrepute and will cause distress and upset not just to the complainant but to the wider parliamentary community.”
He accepted that on October 20 2016 at a SNP social event “I made an inappropriate physical advance to a junior member of SNP group staff”.
Mr Grady added: “My behaviour and the intent behind it was a significant breach of the behaviour code and sexual misconduct policy for the UK Parliament.
“The breach is aggravated by a considerable disparity in age and authority between myself and the complainant and further aggravated by excessive consumption of alcohol on my part.
“I was wrong to make assumptions about the social and personal relationship that existed or had potential to exist between myself and the complainant, and wrong to act on those assumptions.
“Blurring personal and professional boundaries in a work environment can be highly problematic, causing confusion, embarrassment, upset and distress, and I should have been aware of that.
“I should have been far more cognisant of the significant age gap of 17 years between myself and the complainant and I should have been far more appreciative of the perceptions other people have of me as an elected representative and the real and perceived power that we hold.”
Mr Grady noted he had previously apologised to the complainant and he had participated in “bespoke and generic training” which has helped him to “reflect more fully on my behaviour, its impact on others and the steps I must take to ensure it is not repeated”.
Eight further allegations against the MP, including under the sexual misconduct and bullying and harassment policies had previously been dismissed.
The IEP said the complainant “must have been disturbed” by the events on October 20 2016, but cited “several mitigating factors”.
This included that Mr Grady “did not persist with, or repeat, his approach once rebuffed” by the man, who was under the employment of the SNP’s Westminster group.
And they considered “breaches of confidentiality” that “had a lasting effect” on the MP after the staff member was said to have been the source of media reports about the complaints.
The IEP concluded: “An unwanted physical touching, with sexual intent, from a senior MP to a junior member of staff, even on a single occasion, is a significant breach of the policy. It must be marked by some period of suspension from the House.”
Mr Grady stood aside as chief whip after the complaints were formally referred in May 2021.
The report noted that the Commons has not barred all sexual relationships between MPs and staff, but also said disparities in status and power can be highly problematic.
A “second critical factor” noted was that the touching was “clearly sexual in intent” and was “exacerbated by the fact that the context was public, and drink had been taken”.
But the report noted that Mr Grady accepted those points and “made a genuine apology” when confronted with the facts in 2018.
However, the report raised questions about how the apology was handled by SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford.
It said Mr Blackford facilitated an “impromptu informal resolution” meeting where Mr Grady made an informal apology without the prior consultation of the complainant.
“The complainant accepted the apology but made clear in his evidence that the circumstances of the informal resolution were difficult: he 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 report said.
“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.”
It is understood Mr Grady has been placed on administrative suspension by the SNP before the parliamentary group considers the report on Tuesday night.