Sexual harassment survey sent to all Holyrood staff at Scottish Parliament

The Scottish Parliament at Holyrood. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
The Scottish Parliament at Holyrood. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
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An anonymous survey designed to gauge the extent of sexual harassment in the Scottish Parliament has been sent to MSPs, their staff and other people who use the building.

Everyone who works at Holyrood, including members of the media, have been asked to fill in the survey in the wake of claims of widespread harassment in politics.

However, participants have been told not to use the exercise to name any MSPs or others who may be guilty of sexual harassment, to protect their own anonymity.

“You should take care not to put information in the open text boxes that could identify you or any other person,” it states.

“To ensure anonymity, any information that could identify you or another person will be deleted.”

A dedicated phone line has been established to allow people who have experienced sexual harassment to report it to parliamentary authorities.

The number of reported cases is understood to be very low and the number of calls to the help line is currently still in single figures.

The 13-page survey, which takes around 15 minutes to complete, is intended to assess the extent of sexual harassment and sexist behaviour in Holyrood and at MSPs’ constituency or regional offices.

Participants are asked whether they have ever had “comments of a sexual nature” directed towards them, as well as “looks, leers, comments or gestures”.

They are also told to report whether they have ever had any “unwanted physical contact” or any other form of sexual harassment while carrying out their duties.

Last month the Scottish Government’s childcare and early years minister, Mark McDonald, resigned from his post over an “inappropriate” text message.

He was later suspended by the SNP after another complaint was made about his behaviour. He has said that he wants to change and has sought professional help.

Labour MSP Alex Rowley has also been suspended while allegations about his behaviour towards an ex-partner are investigated.

Mr Rowley, who briefly took charge of the party after Kezia Dugdale unexpectedly resigned in August, strongly denies the allegations made by the unnamed woman.

In an e-mail to all Scottish Parliament staff including MSPs, Holyrood’s Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh and chief executive Paul Grice said the results would be independently analysed.

“Over the lifetime of the Parliament the number of reported cases of sexual harassment has been very low,” they wrote.