SNP figures have pleaded for “empathy” and compassion for their shamed colleague Patrick Grady who was suspended from parliament for sexually harassing a junior party staffer.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, sources within the party have told The National they are concerned for Grady’s mental health and have hit back at suggestions they should not support the embattled former chief whip.

Grady, the MP for Glasgow North, was suspended from the House of Commons after the independent sleaze watchdog found he had stroked the neck, hair, and back of a party employee, then 19-years-old, while drunk in a London pub in 2016.

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Colleagues say he has been punished enough since the revelations about his behaviour first surfaced in 2021, derailing the career of someone who was seen as a rising star in the SNP. 

An SNP source told The National: “He has been through the wringer.

“The guy was suspended from parliament for two days, suspended from the SNP group for seven days and people are very aware of the state of distress that he’s been under for what he’s done, or what he’s alleged to have done.”

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A recording of a meeting from last week revealed the SNP Westminster group being encouraged to support Grady, sparking calls from opposition parties for Ian Blackford’s resignation.

East Dunbartonshire MP Amy Callaghan can be heard on the recording saying: “I think we should be rallying together for this campaign, but also regardless of our position on Patrick’s situation, we should be rallying together around him to support him at this time as well.”

Another SNP source added: “The recording, I think, shows a complete lack of ethics."

There have been others calling for compassion for Grady from within the party, including one figure who told The National that while Grady’s actions were “completely wrong and unacceptable”, there ought to be “some human empathy and feelings for the person caught up in this”.

Grady was dealt a two-day suspension from parliament, a relatively lenient punishment, because he was found to have not persisted in his advances towards the man and because he had privately offered a full apology as well as expressing “genuine remorse”.

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He was mandated by the party to undergo special training about sexual harassment and the power dynamics between MPs and party staff.

His victim has accused Blackford of “directing MPs to support the harasser, rather than the victim” and said he was considering legal action against the party.

Joanna Cherry, the MP for Edinburgh South West, is one of few MPs to have spoken about the issue publicly. She tweeted: “For some time the SNP has had significant problems in how it handles complaints.

“My party needs to reflect on the contrast between the treatment of different “offenders” and to review our arrangements for the pastoral care of complainers.”