PARLIAMENT’S sleaze watchdog has been found to have seriously mishandled a complaint against an SNP MP who was cleared of sexual misconduct.

Patricia Gibson, the MP for North Ayrshire and Arran, was eventually cleared of allegations she had asked a member of party staff – the same man to accuse her SNP colleague, Patrick Grady, of sexual harassment – to “come home and shag” her.

An appeal by Gibson has been upheld by the Independent Expert Panel, which reviews the findings of an investigation commissioned by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards Kathryn Stone.

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Gibson has welcomed the findings of the report and said she was “reassured” she has been “exonerated”.

It found the MP was subjected to an “unfair” probe which breached “the principles of natural justice”.

The investigator was criticised in the IEP’s report, published on Thursday, for failing to allow Gibson to make any representations in response to the accuser’s assertions, of which key aspects were not backed up by other witnesses present.

The report likened Gibson’s treatment during the initial “flawed” investigation to an employer deciding a staff member was guilty “without a hearing – and then inviting the employee to appeal".

The investigation “failed” to establish that the offending comments were “likely” to have been made, the report found.

It also found that the version of events put forward by the accuser – namely that Gibson had made a number of drunken advances to the complainer before allegedly unsuccessfully pulling him into the back of her taxi as she went home – was put to other witnesses before they had given their side of the story.

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The report said this was likely to influence how other witnesses recalled events though the problem had not been “determinative” in this case.

Changes made to the investigator’s final report also appear to have been made “as a result” of Gibson raising concerns about inconsistencies, resulting in the case against the MP being given undue weight.  

Stone was “placed in a very difficult position” by the level of flaws in the report but was criticised for relying on the investigator’s report instead of commissioning a second probe or carrying one out herself.

In a statement, Gibson said: "I am grateful to the Independent Expert Panel for its work and comprehensive assessment of this case. I am reassured that the Independent Expert Panel has exonerated me, and has found that I am not guilty and that the investigation into this case was materially flawed.

"I have always maintained my innocence. It has been a very difficult 16 months during which my reputation has been wrongly and repeatedly traduced in the press and on social media, which has also jeopardised my personal safety with threats, abuse and harassment.

"I have found this period extremely traumatic but I am pleased that my reputation has been restored and now wish to draw a line under this matter and look to the future."