Phone line to launch for victims of harassment at Holyrood

A confidential phone line for victims of sexual harassment is to open in the wake of allegations of sleaze and sexual misconduct at Holyrood and Westminster.

The Scottish Parliament building. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
The Scottish Parliament building. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

The service is being launched to provide advice and support to everyone working at the Scottish Parliament and in constituency and regional offices following the scandal.

In an email to staff, the parliament’s chief executive Sir Paul Grice said: “As the Presiding Officer and I said earlier in the week, our immediate priority and that of all the political parties at Holyrood, is to ensure that anyone suffering from harassment has the advice and support that they need.

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“We want to foster a positive culture where everyone is treated with respect and everyone feels confident to speak out about unacceptable behaviour. All of the parties represented in this Parliament have endorsed, and are committed to, a zero tolerance approach to harassment.”

The phone line goes live following the resignation of Mark McDonald as the Scottish Government’s minister for childcare and early years over past actions he said had been deemed “inappropriate’’.

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I was sexually assaulted by male colleague at a party, MSP claims

The SNP MSP for Aberdeen Donside apologised on Saturday as he stood down from the position, saying previous behaviour he had thought ‘’humorous or attempting to be friendly’’ might have made others uncomfortable.

Central Scotland MSP Monica Lennon has also revealed how she was ‘’groped’’ at a social function in 2013 by a senior member of the Labour Party in full view of other guests.

The MSP, Scottish Labour’s inequalities spokeswoman, told the Sunday Mail newspaper the unnamed man ‘’touched my body, in an intimate way, without invitation or permission’’.

Ms Lennon, who was a South Lanarkshire councillor at the time, criticised the response she had received from the party following the incident.

Meanwhile Holyrood bosses said they had received a complaint from a worker about the behaviour of SNP backbencher Willie Coffey.

Mr Coffey, who represents Kilmarnock and Irvine Valley for the SNP, allegedly used ‘’inappropriate language’’ and directed ‘’unsolicited attention’’ towards a female administrative assistant.

A Scottish Parliament spokeswoman said the matter had been ‘’dealt with appropriately and our employee was satisfied with the action taken’’ - although the MSP did not ‘’recognise the claims that are being made about his behaviour’’, his spokesman said.