Joanna Cherry attacks SNP hierarchy as man who sent Twitter abuse is sentenced

SNP MP Joanna Cherry said she was “very disappointed” that the party failed to speak out against the man who sent her “menacing and obscene” messages.

Grant Karte, 30, has now been ordered not to contact Ms Cherry for five years, and has also been given a community payback order which will see him placed under supervision for 15 months and carrying out 160 hours of unpaid work in the community.

Sentencing Karte at Edinburgh Sheriff Court, Sheriff Alistair Noble said: “You pled guilty to a serious charge, a charge involving threatening a member of parliament.

Read More

Read More
Scotland Drug Deaths: 1,339 drug-related deaths were registered in Scotland, the...
File photo dated 24/9/2019 of Joanna Cherry. A man who sent threatening Twitter messages to the SNP MP has been ordered not to contact her for five years Friday July 30, 2021. PA Photo. Photo credit: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

“Your threat carried implications of violence, and one interpretation of what was said was sexual violence.”

But Ms Cherry said that she had not “received the same support as other women who have suffered abuse” as she told how Karte had “a number of menacing and obscene private messages, including threats of sexual violence”.

This took place on the evening of Feb 1 2021 – the day she was removed from the SNP front bench team at Westminster.

Ms Cherry claimed that happened after senior SNP politicians, staff and members of the party’s ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) “wrongly accused” her of transphobia “simply because I had spoken up to defend the rights of women and girls and the right to free speech”.

The Edinburgh South West MP hit out: “These irresponsible accusations put a target on my back and given the toxicity of the current debate about gender identity and harassment, abuse and death threats I had already received, it was wholly foreseeable that further abuse and threats might be elicited, as in fact happened.”

Karte, who she said was an SNP member at the time, sent her “a number of menacing and obscene private messages, including threats of sexual violence” on evening of Feb 1 2021.

He has previously admitted sending Twitter messages that were “grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character” in that he repeatedly threatened Ms Cherry contrary to the Communications Act 2003.

Ms Cherry, formerly the SNP’s justice and home affairs spokeswoman, added: “Although I have become accustomed to social media abuse, the nature of these messages, and the fact that they have been sent privately, caused me considerable fear, upset and alarm, and I informed the police immediately.”

However, she claimed that Karte was an associate of a group of men “including former and current SNP members… who have repeatedly abused and harassed me and other female SNP members on social media”.

Ms Cherry argued that if “steps been taken to address this behaviour it would not have escalated to the level of criminality”.

She continued: “I am very disappointed that no-one in the SNP hierarchy has acknowledged or condemned Grant Karte’s threats towards me, despite his criminal conviction.

“I have not received the same support as other women who have suffered abuse, often a good deal less serious and falling short of criminality.

“In recent years we have heard many fine words about the importance of condemning abuse and taking women’s complaints of harassment seriously, but ultimately actions speak louder than words.”

Ms Cherry said she hoped now that “Karte’s crime will be publicly condemned” by the party, and that “those who made wrongful accusations against me, thus exacerbating the risk of abuse and threats, will have the decency to withdraw those accusations and to apologise”.

The MP spoke out after Sheriff Noble said he took the view that it was not necessary to sentence Karte to a period behind bars – but he warned him if he breaches the order not to contact Ms Cherry he will have to come back to court.

Defence agent Simon Collins, representing Karte, said a psychiatric report prepared ahead of the sentencing was positive, and “reflects on his regret and remorse regarding the incident”.

An SNP spokesperson said: "This is a welcome conviction for totally unacceptable behaviour. We fully recognise the personal impact that comes from such abusive behaviour, and support services are available to all elected representatives and staff. Joanna was offered support from senior levels of the SNP at the time and that offer remains open. We hope that the conclusion of this case will bring her some relief.”

A message from the Editor:Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by Coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.


Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.