AN SNP councillor has lost his political discrimination claim against the Ministry of Defence, the Sunday National can reveal.

In the first case of its kind, Chris McEleny took former bosses at HM Naval Base Clyde to an employment tribunal claiming he’d been unfairly treated over his independence stance.

The landmark challenge established legal precedent after an employment judge ruled for the first time that belief in Scottish independence is a philosophical position covered by UK equality laws.

The National was the only newspaper to attend case hearings in Glasgow earlier this year.

The sessions uncovered sensational allegations against the Inverclyde councillor, including accusations of espionage and passing classified information to members of parliament.

Other suggestions of IRA sympathies emerged through the media while he was running for depute leader of the SNP.

However, the panel also heard from national security experts who said there was no proof for any of the claims. McEleny, who worked as an electrician at the nuclear defence site, told how the accusations had affected his mental health and left him fearing for his future.

Now the Sunday National can reveal that he has lost the case.

The judgement has yet to be published, but documents seen by this newspaper confirm that the tribunal panel has dismissed the claim in its entirety.

The papers state that the tribunal did not find evidence of discrimination and McEleny waited too long to submit his claim.

They also outline how one assessor found two senior Trident base figures, who cannot be named for security reasons, had a “distorted view” of their then-employee.

Commenting on the ruling, McEleny – who last week announced he will step down as leader of Inverclyde Council’s SNP group in May – said: “It’s upsetting, but I have got in writing that accusations against me were malicious and they were all made up. That’s crucial to me. I proved myself against the establishment.”

The tribunal process revealed how MoD insiders questioned whether or not McEleny should retain his job as far back as 2012.

His security clearance was revoked in 2016, which coincided with his party’s depute leadership contest.

He was reinstated two months later but ultimately left his employment after the relationship with bosses broke down – a decision which led to the tribunal move in 2017.

An internal investigation into the politician, who is of Irish heritage, examined his opinion of Rangers football club, nuclear weapons, and Irish republicanism.

The latter came after it was noted that McEleny followed material relating to the centenary of the 1919 Easter Rising, as well as Sinn Fein and Irish unity, and had shared a third-party tweet which included quotes taken from a republican song.

The tribunal heard that he did not know the origin of those words and deleted it when he was made aware.

It was also claimed that McEleny had taken “unauthorised pictures” at the submarine base and passed them to SNP activists and MPs – an offence that can carry a 14-year jail term.

A national security assessor said there was “no evidence” of espionage or that McEleny was an “insider threat”.

The suggestion that McEleny had acted as a spy was described as “risable”.

However, the tribunal said it heard no evidence that independence supporters at the base “were treated differently” or “monitored more closely” than others and “legitimate security concerns” such as the claims made against McEleny “had to be investigated”.

The tribunal heard how McEleny had suffered from depression and stress during the period. He told the Sunday National: “You’ve got the UK Government backing you into a corner, throwing accusations at you. Espionage in a nuclear facility is a big, big charge that leads to sleepless nights. I don’t know many people who would mentally stand up to that level of scrutiny, especially when you’ve got one foot in a public role.

“It was splash-worthy – ‘SNP depute leader candidate in espionage claims’. You get yourself into a bit of a bunker mentality because you’re also wondering if this is going to be used against the wider movement, something you have believed in and worked for your whole life. Trust is a big thing in politics.”

He went on: “All of these things I was getting accused of, the orgy of evidence against me about being some kind of radical terrorist – people asked why I didn’t just walk away.

“I’d have been going to job interviews for the rest of my life having to explain I left an employment because I was accused of being a terrorist, of committing acts of espionage that could put me in jail for years. Would any reasonable employer have taken me on?”

While he was advised by lawyer Aamer Anwar, McEleny initially represented himself, studying law in order to clear the first hurdle – whether belief in independence is covered by the Equality Act. He said: “For three years I’ve not been able to speak about the biggest thing that’s ever happened to me because the case was ongoing.

‘‘Last year we proved the point that you can’t discriminate against someone because they support independence, which most people would assume would be a reasonable proposition in a democratic society but we had to argue that point. That was really big. It was really touch-and-go, it was the first time somebody had really challenged.

“I never got the decision I wanted but there is closure recorded there. Other people acted in a manner that was unreasonable, defamatory, scurrilous, you name it. I have always acted with integrity.”