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SNP stand by new complaints officer after criticism by Joanna Cherry

THE SNP are standing by the party’s new complaints officer amid a row over his appointment sparked by criticism from Joanna Cherry.

The MP questioned how Ricky Taylor “passed vetting”, pointing to tweets accusing her of “transphobia” and “bullying”.

Taylor will take up the post of complaints officer at the end of August.

Announcing the move yesterday, he said: “I’m delighted to say I’ll be joining the wonderful team at @theSNP HQ at the end of next month as the party’s new Complaints Officer.

“It’s not going to be the easiest job but I’m definitely up for the challenge of making sure the party is a welcoming and safe place for all.”

Cherry hit back at the appointment, citing an exchange the pair had earlier this year.

The MP said: “The new @theSNP complaints officer @RickyDJTaylor has a history of targeting me & calling me transphobic for my lawful gender critical views. How did he pass vetting?”

A screenshot accompanying that message shows Taylor responding to a tweet by Cherry, in which he says: “I’m not in any nasty minority. I’m a member of the party that’s deeply concerned with the open transphobia that you constantly spout.”

Cherry replied: “You won’t find anything to show I’m transphobic because I’m not. Standing up for women’s rights & those of lesbians is not transphobic. Grow up”

Taylor wrote: “No, Joanna. It’s time you grew up and stopped creating a toxic environment within the SNP and pulling the defamation card anytime you’re challenged on your views.”

A separate tweet from Taylor said: “There’s certainly no place for bullying or intimidation in politics so maybe [Joanna Cherry] can start practicing what she preaches?”

A spokesperson for the SNP has now backed Taylor in the row over his position.

They said: “The party’s new complaints officer will play an important administrative role at headquarters, and we have full confidence in his abilities.

“Decisions on complaints remain with the National Secretary.”

It comes after Cherry told of her “disappointment” at the party’s response to the conviction of a man for sending her threatening Twitter messages.

Grant Karte, 30, was yesterday ordered not to contact her for five months and given a community payback order.

He will be supervised for 15 months and have to do 160 hours of unpaid work in the community.

Karte admitted sending Twitter messages on February 1 that were “grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character” in that he repeatedly threatened Cherry contrary to the Communications Act 2003.

Responding to Karte’s sentencing Cherry wrote that his messages had “caused her considerable fear, upset and alarm”.

She said she had been sacked from the SNP frontbench at Westminster after being “wrongly accused of transphobia”.

She added: “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.

“His name was removed from the roll of party members after his offence was publicised, so I can only assume that his behaviour has been recognised as reprehensible, yet no one has said so publicly on behalf of the SNP and 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.”

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.”

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