THE SNP’s chief whip at Westminster has issued a legal warning to MPs after a recording of Ian Blackford giving his backing to Patrick Grady, who has been suspended for sexual misconduct, was leaked. 

In a letter to colleagues – which has also been leaked – Owen Thompson said he has contacted parliamentary security.

In the email, seen by The Times, he says there are “serious questions to be answered” after a recording of Blackford and other SNP MPs rallying support for Grady was published initially by the Daily Mail, and later the Sun.

Every SNP group member who attended the private meeting has now been summoned by Thompson – who succeeded Grady as chief whip after allegations surfaced in 2021 – to an individual grilling on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Grady was suspended by the party and Parliament for two days last week after a watchdog found he had made an “unwanted sexual advance” towards a teenage staff member in 2016. The man he targeted said was “bitterly disappointed” at the “lenient” sanction and criticised the SNP’s handling of the situation, saying his life has been a “living hell”.

In a meeting held shortly after the Independent Expert Panel’s ruling was announced, Blackford could be heard saying Grady “has our absolute full support”. He added: “I for one, very much looking forward to welcoming Patrick back into the group next week.”

Amy Callaghan and Marion Fellows also spoke out in favour of Grady.

Responding to the leak, Thompson warns there are “serious questions to be answered on the legality of sharing a recording without consent under terms of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000”.

The chief whip insists releasing the clip to the press was “beyond the pale”, adding: “This behaviour is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”

A report into Grady’s conduct said that 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”, with the report adding he was “under the influence of alcohol” at the SNP social event in 2016.

The National: The SNP group has been told the leak was 'beyond the pale'The SNP group has been told the leak was 'beyond the pale'

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon: SNP to 'reflect' on complaints process after Patrick Grady suspension

The man who Grady targeted, now aged 25, says he has been sidelined by the party after making the complaint. He told The Times: “It is disappointing to see that the SNP would rather take strong action against the leaker than the perpetrator.

“The SNP have still not learnt anything. The fact that Owen and the leadership believe the leak, rather than Grady’s behaviour, is the reason opponents are attacking them shows how far removed from reality the SNP has become.”

Both Scottish Labour and the Tories have called on Blackford and Grady to quit.

Scottish Labour business manager Neil Bibby said: “From the start, the SNP have behaved in a way that is disgraceful — closing ranks and intimidating people who tried to bring this story to light.”

Scottish Tory chairman Craig Hoy said Thompson’s email “confirms that the SNP have seriously warped priorities when it comes to handling severe misconduct”.

Constitution Secretary Angus Robertson has rejected calls for Blackford to resign

He told BBC Scotland's Sunday Show there must be appropriate care for sexual harassment victims, adding: “I don't think that Ian Blackford should face the calls that he is, especially from political parties throwing very large rocks while sitting in glass houses.”

In a statement to the Commons, Grady said: “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.”