SNP MP Joanna Cherry has pointed the blame for abuse at her own “irresponsible” party following the sentencing of a man who threatened her online.
Grant Karte was today ordered not to contact Ms Cherry for five years, given a supervised community payback order for 15 months and ordered to do 160 hours of unpaid work after sending the MP threats on Twitter.
The former SNP member previously admitted sending Twitter messages on February 1 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.
In a statement following the 30-year-old’s sentence, Ms Cherry said she was disappointed at the lack of support by the party “hierarchy” and linked the abuse she received to her sacking from the Westminster front bench, describing her colleagues as “irresponsible”.
The MP for Edinburgh South West said: “Earlier on the same day I had been sacked from the SNP Westminster frontbench after senior SNP politicians, members of the SNP NEC and staff employed by the party had wrongly accused me of transphobia, simply because I had spoken up to defend the rights of women and girls and the right to free speech.”
She said their “irresponsible accusations put a target on my back” and that it was “wholly foreseeable that further abuse and threats might be elicited, as in fact happened.”.
Ms Cherry also said that Mr Karte was an “associate of a group of men, including current and former SNP members with strong links to the Stirling area who have repeatedly abused and harassed me and other female SNP members on social media.”
She continued: “I believe that had steps been taken to address this behaviour it would not have escalated to the level of criminality.”
The MP added that she was “very disappointed that no one in the SNP hierarchy has acknowledged or condemned Grant Karte’s threats towards me despite his criminal conviction.”
She said that 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” adding: “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.”
Ms Cherry today publicly urged her own party to get to grips with harassment and abuse of its members, saying that it is “bound by the terms of the Equality Act”.
She added: “The recent Employment Appeal Tribunal judgement in the case of Forstater v CGD Europe has made it quite clear that my beliefs as a gender critical feminist are protected under the Act. I also share the protected characteristics of sex and sexual orientation.”
She is seeking an apology and a withdrawal from those she claims made “wrongful accusations against me thus exacerbating the risk of abuse and threats” and wants the SNP to condemn Mr Karte’s behaviour.
Ms Cherry also reiterated that she would continue to defend “the rights of women and girls, the rights of lesbians to be same-sex attracted and the right to freedom of speech” and said it was “not transphobic”, adding: “I will continue to do so despite the attempts to silence me.”
Finally Ms Cherry, who was once tipped as a possible successor to Nicola Sturgeon as the party’s leader, said it was “not too late for the SNP to tackle the harassment and abuse directed at me and other women from within the party”
She added: “I hope that they will now take steps to do so and, in future, I would expect that I and any other women abused in this way will receive the same support from the leadership and party HQ as has been afforded to other party members who have suffered abuse, often a good deal less serious and falling short of criminality.”
An SNP spokeswoman 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.”