Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed she was aware of concerns about SNP chief whip Patrick Grady before a formal sexual harassment complaint was made about him.
The Glasgow North MP stood aside from his Westminster role following claims he groped two male researchers at an SNP Christmas party in 2016.
Further allegations have also emerged about claims that Mr Grady, 41, “inappropriately” touched an SNP staff member, then aged 19, in a London pub.
It has since been claimed the First Minister was told about Mr Grady’s alleged behaviour by Alex Salmond at the same April 2 2018 meeting that he first disclosed details of the sexual harassment investigation into himself.
Speaking at the Scottish Government’s coronavirus briefing, the SNP leader confirmed that a formal complaint had received but refused to elaborate on how long she has known about the allegations.
Asked when and where she first learned of the claims against Mr Grady, Ms Sturgeon said: “I would have had an awareness previously of a concern, but not a formal complaint.
“I’m not going to say more than that because due process requires that an investigation is allowed to take its course.”
The Daily Record has reported that the staff member involved in the allegation also claims a complaint he made about being sexually harassed by a female SNP MP in the Commons’ Strangers Bar in 2020 was ignored by Mr Grady.
He is reported as saying: “I went to work the next morning and the very first thing I did was walk to Patrick’s office and I told him about the situation. He acknowledged that and said, ‘okay’ and that was the last I ever heard of it.”
An SNP spokesman previously confirmed a complaint had been made but said the party would not comment further while the investigation was carried out.
Following Ms Sturgeon’s disclosure, Scottish Conservative MSP Annie Wells said: “This bombshell confession raise further serious concerns about Nicola Sturgeon’s morals and her judgment.
“She admits knowing of concerns about this senior SNP MP yet did nothing about it.
“Not only did she keep a lid on it, but she actively campaigned for Patrick Grady and then reappointed him to the post of chief whip.
“Every passing day brings new headlines of SNP sleaze. They’re rotten to the core and voters are beginning to see it.
“This latest revelation fuels the perception that some SNP politicians enjoy the protection of Sturgeon and her husband, Peter Murrell, the party’s chief executive.
“If she thinks she can fob people off with the excuse that there was no formal complaint, she is mistaken. That just does not wash in today’s world.
“A blind eye was turned, and we need to know exactly what Sturgeon and Murrell knew and when.”
An SNP spokesman said: “In February 2018 an issue was highlighted by a third party to the Westminster group.
“As a result, an individual was contacted but they did not wish to raise any complaint.
“Accordingly the matter was dealt with informally and was understood to have been concluded to everyone’s satisfaction at that time.
“The SNP national secretary has now had a formal complaint notified to him and will investigate accordingly.”