SNP’s new sexual harassment complaints policy ‘in weeks’, say insiders | Scottish National Party (SNP)

A new system for handling sexual harassment complaints within the Scottish National Party could become party policy within weeks, the Guardian has learned, after escalating criticism from activists over a lack of openness and accountability.

Revelations last week about the extent of failures to deal with a sexual harassment complaint against former Westminster chief whip Patrick Grady have sparked widespread frustration among SNP campaigners, who are pushing for a change in culture since the launch of the #MeToo movement in 2017. .

Internal critics have openly attacked what many see as a systemic failure by the party leadership to deal transparently, fairly and promptly with harassment and other complaints.

Following the Westminster revelations, a group of grassroots activists plan to table a motion at the upcoming SNP conference calling for zero tolerance of sexual harassment and more explicit and consistent penalties in handling complaints.

The long-awaited policy change comes as party leader Nicola Sturgeon said her party’s Westminster Group had questions to answer about its handling of the Grady complaint. On Tuesday, the party announced an external review of the support offered to staff filing a complaint.

On Thursday, Sturgeon condemned the behavior of his own MPs as ‘completely unacceptable’ after a leaked audio recording appeared to show part of the SNP’s Westminster Group rallying to Grady without mentioning his victim, who said she did not felt unsupported and ostracized by colleagues in the Commons.

Speaking to BBC Scotland on Friday morning, Sturgeon said she still had faith in her party’s leader in Westminster, Ian Blackford, but added that a victim who does not feel supported “is by definition unsupported”. .

The new draft policy is expected to be presented to the party’s national executive committee at its next meeting in July, when supporters hope it will be adopted as party policy.

A party source familiar with the drafting of the new policy said: ‘It is really important that it is a policy that works for everyone, that is constructive and useful and can sit alongside other complaint frameworks.”

The Guardian understands that a previous draft has been revised to reflect the introduction of new processes at Westminster and Holyrood.

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An SNP spokesperson said: ‘The SNP takes sexual harassment seriously and seeks to change party policy to better support colleagues and members.

One of those involved in the planned conference debate said the new policy “won’t mean anything” unless “real action” is taken by leaders. “The grassroots movement must be listened to, given that we are in this mess because of the lack of procedures in the party and the mismanagement of the Westminster group,” they said.

Another campaigner involved in the drafting of the new policy welcomed the progress, but cautioned that consideration should be given to the fact that so often in the past the poor handling of complaints had compounded the initial distress of an incident to him. -same.

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