THE environment of the North Lanarkshire SNP Group has been described as “beyond toxic” by seven councillors who have been expelled or resigned after raising concerns about former colleague Jordan Linden.

The group, who raised concerns over the party’s handling of a sexual misconduct complaint against former SNP council leader Jordan Linden, now face accusations of “bringing the group and party into disrepute" by speaking publicly on the matter.

Councillors Paul Di Mascio and David Crichton were expelled from the North Lanarkshire SNP Group on Tuesday, May 2.

Another five were given six-month suspensions on Wednesday, May 3 – only to resign that evening from the council group in solidarity with their expelled colleagues.

Those stepping down included councillor Cameron McManus, a complainant against Linden.

The five who have resigned are Beth Baudo, Gerry Brennan, Greg Lennon, Barry McLuskey and McManus.

The group wrote to SNP National Secretary Lorna Finn in March alleging there had been “continual failings by the North Lanarkshire SNP leadership team”, including a failure to investigate sexual misconduct and “abuse of power”.

The leader of the North Lanarkshire Group, councillor Tracy Carragher, works part-time for both the SNP’s business convener Kirsten Oswald MP and for local MSP Fulton MacGregor.

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McManus, who has waived his anonymity, resigned after colleagues were expelled under the accusation by the SNP group leadership of bringing the party into disrepute after standing with him.

The councillor wrote in his resignation letter to Finn and SNP local government convener Kelly Parry that he could not join a meeting due to the environment perpetuated by leadership.

McManus wrote: “I do not feel safe or welcome within the North Lanarkshire SNP Group and the risk it is bringing to my mental and physical health. I will no longer be serving the council as an SNP councillor. “

Finn replied: “I’m sorry that you felt unable to join the meeting the other night. In some ways, disciplinary meetings will always have an element of confrontation to them unless someone is holding their hands up to a breach, and given what’s gone on in recent months, it was inevitable that there would be frustration on the part of members about how colleagues had acted.”

McManus replied: “It is a toxic environment, ignorant of my past complaints as well as my mental and physical health. Going as far as treating me as if I was the perpetrator rather than the victim.

“Had either of you listened to myself and other colleagues, with even a degree of professionalism, then this whole situation could have been avoided.”

McManus has received no reply from the National Secretary at the time of publication.

Linden, 29, quit the party in February after McManus’s complaint about him was revealed by the Sunday Mail.

McManus, 25, is one of several men – including a teenage boy – who allege they have been sexually assaulted and harassed by Linden. Linden refutes the allegations.

One source with South Lanarkshire Council said: “A large part of this is off the back of that group wanting Jordan Linden punished from the beginning.

"Tracy and her leadership group [Carragher, assisted by the current business manager Richard Sullivan, assistant business manager Anne Thomas and secretary Margaret Hughes] were and are loyal to Jordan."

The party have treated all resignations as not just from the group but from the SNP, therefore removing the five – including McManus – from the party.

This means that all seven councillors who previously represented the SNP are Independent.

The SNP group has shrunk by 10 members in total under this leadership team and following the press revelations relating to Linden.

Expelled councillor Di Mascio described the atmosphere in the North Lanarkshire SNP Group as “completely toxic” with “no room for individual reasoned thought”.

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He added: “It is a very sad day for each and every one of us who have either been expelled or resigned in unforgivable circumstances.

“It’s been a strenuous time for all concerned. None more than Cameron [McManus] of course. All of us have been dedicated to the to the party and the cause of independence.

"At least three had hopes of running for the party at Westminster elections. It breaks our heart what has happened.

“We must see an end to such behaviours and an end someday soon to all forms of abuse, sexual abuse or sexual harassment.

“Survivors of abuse, sexual abuse and sexual harassment must be listened to and protection of perpetrators in any way, shape or form is completely unforgivable.”

The expulsion of Di Mascio means the four-member Airdrie South ward in SNP MSP Neil Gray’s constituency now has no SNP representation, as another councillor elected for the SNP last year, Michael Coyle, quit the party in August.

Asked for his reaction, Gray, the MSP for Airdrie and Shotts, said: “Obviously, where there are internal matters for council groups, that’s for council groups to determine.

“I’m not fully across all the details of what’s happened with regards to that. Obviously the decisions that are taken are for them.”

On the SNP losing all its councillors in Airdrie South, he said: “It’s a challenging situation. I don’t doubt that. There are difficult decisions that are having to be taken by council groups.

“I respect the decision that’s been taken by the entire council group to come forward with these disciplinary processes, but it’s for the council groups to take that decision, not for me.

“Hopefully we will see a very strong SNP in North Lanarkshire Council group going forward.”

An SNP spokesperson said: “The allegations relate to an individual who is no longer an SNP member. The group leader disputes any suggestion she ignored an allegation by an individual.

“The matter has been raised with the party and will be subject to investigation. If there is any allegation of a criminal nature, then that must be made to the police rather than the party.”