SNP council leader resigns after sexual harassment claim

27 July 2022, 16:35 | Updated: 27 July 2022, 17:36

Another SNP politician has been accused of sexual misconduct just weeks after the suspension of Patrick Grady MP, pictured, from the Commons..
Another SNP politician has been accused of sexual misconduct just weeks after the suspension of Patrick Grady MP, pictured, from the Commons.. Picture: Alamy

By Gina Davidson

The SNP leader of one of Scotland's largest councils has stepped down after being accused of sexual misconduct.

Jordan Linden resigned from his £45,000 a year post at North Lanarkshire Council after allegations surfaced that he had made unwanted sexual advances while drunk to a young SNP activist at a party in Dundee after a gay pride march in 2019.

The 27-year-old, a cousin of Glasgow East SNP MP David Linden, had been due to confront his fellow SNP councillors about the claim, and was also facing a vote of no confidence brought by the Labour opposition group.

However he has now announced he is standing down as council leader, apologising for his behaviour and citing concerns for his mental health. He intends to carry on a councillor for Bellshill.

This is the third sexual harassment case in which the SNP has been embroiled in recent months. Glasgow North MP Patrick Grady (pictured) was suspended from the Commons for two days after an independent inquiry found he had harassed a young SNP Westminster staffer. He later "stepped aside" from his membership of the SNP.

Patricia Gibson, MP for North Ayrshire and Arran, was also intitially found to have sexually harassed the same staff member - but her appeal was upheld after the independent expert panel ruled the initial investigation was "materially flawed".

In a statement released by the SNP, Cllr Linden said: “I want to make colleagues aware that I am resigning from my position as Leader of North Lanarkshire Council today.

"Although I have never approached any personal interaction with ill intent, I accept that my behaviour at that party in 2019 caused a sense of discomfort which I entirely regret. 

“I offered my apologies to the person concerned at the time and the matter was closed.

"I reiterate that apology today. And in all that’s been said in recent days, the empathetic words from that individual have given me the most reassurance.“

"The recent press coverage of this has placed an immense strain on me personally. My mental health and wellbeing is being seriously affected, and the impact it is having is profound. 

"This is foremost in my consideration about my future, as well as the interests of my partner, family and those closest to me. 

“By resigning, I hope to be allowed the space to get my mental health back in balance.

“I have no wish for my personal circumstances to overshadow the work of the political administration of the council."

He added: “It has been the privilege of my life to serve in this role, and I remain proud that I was able to lead the Scottish National Party to administration in North Lanarkshire for the first time. 

“I intend to continue to represent the people of Bellshill to the very best of my ability as a councillor, as I have done since first being elected in 2017."

The elevation of Jordan Linden to be an SNP candidate - who was then successfully elected - and then to be made council leader puts the party's vetting processes under the spotlight, as officials had been aware of the allegation against him.

At the weekend the Sunday Mail reported SNP HQ compliance officer Ian McCann was informed of the claim against Cllr Linden shortly after the Dundee party and tried to reach out to the alleged victim. However no official complaint was lodged.

A spokesman for the SNP: "The individual made clear to the SNP that the matter was resolved and he would not be making a complaint."

Meanwhile a former SNP member, Jack Boag, revealed on Twitter yesterday that he had been groped while on a 2018 visit to Brussels run by Young Scots for Independence, the SNP’s under-30s wing - but had not raised a complaint as he believed his attacker was able to use the party’s own rules to shield himself.

He said: “I was sexually assaulted at a YSI  event and the reason I never launched a complaint was having seen my assaulter use those mechanisms to protect themself. They could do no wrong. Jordan [Cllr Linden] was one."

He stressed he was not the victim of the assault by the councillor and added: “This is not unique to the YSI, you hear these stories in Young Labour, Young Liberals, everywhere. To weaponise this against the SNP from another political party is hypocritical. Toxic youth wing culture will only die if every party collectively chooses to kill it.”

The SNP has already pledged an overhaul of its internal complaints procedures after the criticism it received over its handling of the Patrick Grady complaint.

Responding to Cllr Linden's resignation, Scottish Labour Business Manager Neil Bibby said: “This resignation was the right thing to do, but it doesn’t fix the rotten culture of secrecy and cover-up at the heart of the SNP.

"His apology makes it all the more appalling that the SNP hierarchy were so willing to close ranks to protect him. The SNP cannot keep looking the other way and letting their scandal-hit politicians call the shots.

“Their own activists have made it clear that they don’t have faith in the party’s complaints system – but the SNP are treating these concerns with outright contempt.

“The SNP need to start listening to their own members and overhaul this broken system, so that it protects victims instead of protecting the party.”

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