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Nicola Sturgeon accused of ‘fleeing’ by Tories for travelling to Italy amid Patrick Grady row

THE Scottish Tories have launched an attack on Scotland’s First Minister for travelling to Italy for a conference while the SNP deals with the fall-out from Patrick Grady’s suspension.

Nicola Sturgeon has been in Bellagio for the last two days attending the Global Women Leader’s Summit, hosted by the Rockefeller Foundation and Georgetown Institute for Women and Peace.

The summit is focusing on gender equality, protecting women’s rights and tackling climate change.

It comes amid an ongoing row following the suspension of Glasgow North MP Grady, who was found to have behaved inappropriately towards a teenage staffer in 2016. Last week, he was suspended for two days.

Over the weekend, a leaked recording revealed SNP Westminster chief Ian Blackford told his colleagues he is “very much looking forward to welcoming Patrick back”, urging MPs to offer Grady “as much support as possible”.

Opposition parties demanded Blackford resign over the audio. He is yet to publicly speak about the story. 

MP Amy Callaghan, who was also recorded, has issued a statement and apology.

Sturgeon has said her party needs to reflect on its internal processes after the Grady incident, but has also not spoken publicly about the situation since the SNP MP meeting audio leaked.

On Monday it was announced that she would be travelling to Italy for the conference – and Scottish Tories jumped on the opportunity to criticise her.

The party’s chief whip at Holyrood, Stephen Kerr, tweeted: “Nicola Sturgeon is the sort of politician to fly to Italy to give a speech about protecting women, but avoid taking any action to help a victim of one of her own MPs.

“Don’t forget this.”

The comments were retweeted by fellow MSP Annie Wells.

Meanwhile, Scottish Labour deputy Jackie Baillie told the Express she was “deeply concerned” that Sturgeon had not addressed the leaked recording.

“It’s all too clear that the First Minister’s promise of ‘zero tolerance’ for sexual misconduct was a bad joke,” she said. “One wonders how Nicola Sturgeon will be able to look other female world leaders in the eye after failing to act on this scandal.”

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