JOANNA Cherry is urging Ian Blackford to consult HR professionals as the SNP reflect on their handling of a sexual misconduct complaint against Patrick Grady.

The Glasgow North MP was suspended from the Commons for two days and the SNP for a week after an independent investigation found he had acted inappropriately towards a teenage member of party staff in 2016.

Grady apologised in the Commons over the incident, which the report said happened while he was under the influence of alcohol.

But a recording that surfaced on Friday of an SNP group meeting drew criticism for Blackford, who could be heard saying Grady deserved the group’s support upon his return, despite the complainer saying his life had been made a “living hell” and he had not been supported through the process.

The man who complained, who still works for the party, said he was considering legal action against the SNP.

In a response to the leaked recording, Blackford said he “deeply regrets that a member of staff was subject to inappropriate behaviour”.

The National: Ian Blackford MP at a previous session of parliament

The SNP Westminster leader added that he was initiating an external review of “support available to staff, to sit alongside the independent advice service and independent complaints process”.

That statement was branded a "publicity stunt" by the complainant, who condemned a lack of support from the party. 

Cherry, who has regularly butted heads with the party’s leadership, on Wednesday called for Blackford to ensure he took “proper HR advice” on Thursday, after repeating claims that the party had issues in dealing with complaints.

“I think it fair to say that my party has had significant problems with how it handles complaints and we need to reflect on the contrast between the treatment of different offenders and to review our arrangements for the pastoral care of complainers,” she said on BBC Radio Scotland’s Drivetime programme with John Beattie.

“My colleague, Amy Callaghan, wrote to the chief whip earlier this week calling for an external organisation to conduct a root and branch review of the SNP Westminster group’s internal misconduct and harassment structures and I would support that.”

READ MORE: What SNP figures are really saying about the Patrick Grady leaked audio row

Callaghan could also be heard on the recording calling for colleagues to support Grady – a statement for which she issued an apology on Monday.

Cherry, SNP MP for Edinburgh South West, added: “There are certainly questions to be answered about how the complainer was treated previously and I think the best thing for Ian to do would be to get some proper HR advice about that and look back at what went wrong.

“There was a victim in all of this and that victim has said that the process of complaining and having his voice was handled very badly and he felt unsupported and I think it’s very important that Ian as the leader of the group looks at putting this right.”

The victim described Blackford’s statement as a “non-apology”, “a bit of a cop out” and a “publicity stunt”, adding he did not receive a private apology from the SNP Westminster leader.

The SNP staffer told BBC Good Morning Scotland (GMS): “He's done it to protect his position, protect his reputation. My interest as the victim is not at the forefront of this. It’s about damage control.

“It seems like the SNP under Ian Blackford at Westminster hasn't learned a thing and they're still trying to close ranks and discredit the victim by not really addressing any of the issues.”

The National: Joanna Cherry

The man, who is now aged 25, said he also felt he was subjected to an “ambush” after making the complaint when Blackford allegedly invited him to a meeting at which Grady was present, without warning staffer beforehand.

The victim said he accepted Callaghan’s apology but condemned what he saw as a lack of support from the parliamentary group.

“Amy Callaghan did get in touch with me before she issued a public apology and I let her know I accepted it,” he told GMS.

"I do think it was a heartfelt apology and she has learned and reflected. Other than Amy I haven't received much in the way of support from any of the MPs – minus a couple maybe.

"Out of the 45 the vast majority still haven't contacted me, they haven't been in touch, they haven't wished me well or asked if I was ok.

"That's down in part to the fact that Ian Blackford the leader has directed them to support Patrick Grady instead of myself."