NORTH Lanarkshire councillors who have been expelled or resigned from the SNP are launching their own party.

The new party, named Progressive Change North Lanarkshire, has been set up by eight former SNP councillors who were expelled or resigned after raising concerns over the party’s handling of a sexual misconduct complaint against former council leader Jordan Linden.

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

READ MORE: Police probe Jordan Linden over sexual assault allegations

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

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

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

Jim Hume, a longstanding local councillor, joined them in leaving the party last week and all eight will form the new group.

Di Mascio said: “Due to very unfortunate circumstances we have found ourselves no longer in the SNP.

“We absolutely need to focus on doing the best for our constituents locally and the way we are able to do that is by being organised and working together.

“We are like minded individuals with integrity — that is how we ended up in this situation — who want to focus 100 per cent on local issues.”

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”.

McManus, who has waived his anonymity, resigned after colleagues were expelled under the accusation from 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."

The party 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 the councillors who previously represented the SNP are now independent, allowing the formation of Progressive Change North Lanarkshire.

READ MORE: SNP members ask Humza Yousaf for inquiry into North Lanarkshire Council

When asked whether he had replied to the letter sent by the branch of Uddingston and Bellshill, Humza Yousaf said: “I’ll make sure I look at the letter and reply obviously in due course. I have been speaking to local members, MSPs, local councillors, in fact the leader of the SNP group as well.

“We’re absolutely holding our hands up – I as First Minister and leader of the party say that things of course could have been handled better. That’s why we’ll do the investigation.

“The party will investigate some of the allegations that have been made about the party and about the party’s handing of the complaints.”

After Yousaf spoke to press, branch convenor Alison Cameron said she spoke to him and handed over a physical copy of the letter she had sent on May 5.