The SNP looks likely to lose control of one of the biggest councils in Scotland after its leader quit over sex pest claims.
The Sunday Mail revealed last month that Jordan Linden, 27, had behaved inappropriately with a teenage SNP member during a party in 2019, prompting his resignation as council leader. Despite the party replacing him with his depute Tracey Carragher in North Lanarkshire, Labour will mount a challenge to regain the council this week.
We have learned key Greens councillor Claire Williams is now planning to abstain from the vote. With 36 councillors to Labour’s 32, the SNP needs the backing of Williams and the two independents to win. It is thought the independent councillors will not back the SNP either following the revelations.
A statement from the North Lanarkshire Greens, given to the Sunday Mail, said: “The fragility of any minority administration would bring nothing but chaos to this council and the futures of the residents it represents.
“In order to bring stability, the North Lanarkshire Greens’ preference is to see the two largest political groups negotiate a power-sharing agreement to promote a cooperative working environment, utilising the skills and oversight of all elected members to deliver the changes the electorate of North Lanarkshire have asked for at the ballot box. The tit for tat, all-or-nothing approach to politics does nothing to serve communities across North Lanarkshire.”
A source close to Williams added: “Claire will abstain. In good conscience she can’t support the SNP given what’s been happening and their failure to acknowledge, let alone tackle, multiple serious allegations of sexual harassment.”
Jim Logue, North Lanarkshire Labour group leader, said: “This ongoing saga begs the question as to what a SNP elected member has to do to lose the party whip and be suspended or expelled. The Labour Group will be submitting a counter proposal to regain control as the current administration has become mired in sexual and financial misconduct.”
The SNP only gained the council for the first time this year, electing Linden, 27, as leader on May 19. Six weeks later, the Sunday Mail revealed allegations of sexual harassment against him which took place at a party in 2019.
We also revealed that while chairman of the Scottish Youth Parliament, Linden is alleged to have sent indecent images to its members. Jack O’Hara told how he received flirtatious and sexual messages from Linden when he was 14 and Linden was 21. Four other men, who wanted to remain anonymous, also presented the Sunday Mail with texts and detailed accounts of alleged similar incidents involving Linden during his time at the SYP.
The men say they were let down by Ben McKendrick, chief executive of SYP, who deemed the claims “false” and some of the alleged victims were being threatened with “revenge porn” charges for sharing their concerns about the types of images Linden allegedly sent.
Linden said the claims had been investigated and he had no case to answer. He also suggested the men were trying to smear him.
Don’t miss the latest news from around Scotland and beyond – Sign up to our daily newsletter here.