Two sides of bullying allegation speak out

Two MPs who have been involved in a row about alleged threatening behaviour have spoken publicly.

The SNP's Eilidh Whiteford claimed Labour's Ian Davidson had told her he would give her "a doing" if she leaked information discussed during a meeting of the House of Commons' Scottish Affairs Select Committee.

Mr Davidson denied any threatening behaviour towards Ms Whiteford.

However, he said his use of the word "doing" had been misinterpreted and he added that on reflection it was a phrase he should not have used.

Here, are extracts from BBC Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme, broadcast on Thursday, 27 October.

She said..... He said.....
Eilidh Whiteford Eilidh Whiteford, Banff and Buchan MP - Interviewed by BBC presenter Gary Robertson Ian Davidson Ian Davidson, Glasgow South West MP - Interviewed by BBC presenter Hayley Millar

What happened?

"After the private meeting of the Scottish Affairs Committee last week, Mr Davidson felt the need to come up to me and explain he'd talked about me getting a doing earlier in that private meeting and he had not meant it in a sexual way. So, I was left wondering what kind of doing he did intend to give me."

Why did he say this?

"I did not provoke this, I am not responsible for Mr Davidson's behaviour - you will have to speak to him about why he said those things and what he meant by them."

Did you feel threatened?

"How could you not feel threatened? How can you interpret the phrase 'getting a doing' in anything other than a threatening way?"

Why was the apology not enough?

"It was a very half-hearted and conditional apology and at the same time he seemed to be saying he didn't have much to apologise for for what he said and to try to justify or make excuses for what he said. He tried to say it was some kind of joke or it wasn't serious. I've said all along that if Ian had come up to me after the meeting and apologised and said 'I went too far, I shouldn't have said those things', I would have been probably minded to let this go. I think you have to bear in mind it would have been a lot easier for me to walk away from this and pretend it never happened and sweep it under the carpet."

It has been suggested this served the purposes of the SNP, is this true?

"That is ludicrous. I think the issue is, he said these things, he now wants to deflect attention away from that and I think it is really important to bring it back to the point. This is not about the politics, it's about one individual's conduct."

Have you been over sensitive?

"I absolutely don't think it is ever acceptable in any circumstances to say 'getting a doing' and that is a threat, however you look at it, and it is not ok to say these things."

Should you resign?

"No, I want to be on the committee, I just don't want to be on the committee while Ian Davidson is chair of it."

What if he didn't resign and there was no SNP representative?

"I think that would be a sad reflection on the way the House of Commons works. I hope it won't come to that, I hope people will see this was an unacceptable thing to say. The kind of half-hearted apology he has been making now shows he doesn't see the seriousness of the issue and doesn't understand why his behaviour was unacceptable."

Do you accept that you said "get a doing"?

"No, no not at all. I want to make it very clear that I did not at any time threaten or attempt to threaten Dr Whiteford. This should not be a debate about whether or not something was acceptable or not, it is not acceptable to threaten anyone, it is about whether it was true or not."

Did you use the phrase?

"I used the phrase after a debate which had taken place about her behaviour. What I said was along the lines of 'you've been given a doing, now let's move on'. It referred to past tense, to the discussion that had taken place. There was no suggestion that that was a threat for the future and there are eight other members of the committee who were there who have confirmed that no threat was made."

What did you mean by the comment?

"Well she [Ms Whiteford] had been rebuked quite severely for misbehaviour led off by myself and a number of other people had come in and said what she had done was unacceptable and they were unhappy with it, and then I stepped in and felt that the discussion had gone far enough and said 'you've had a doing, let's move on to the next item'."

Did you say she would get a doing if she leaked material to the media?

"No, I did not and nobody else on the committee takes that view. The Labour Party took this very seriously, as did I. They called me and wanted to hear my version and they said they would speak to other Labour members.

I insisted they speak to other members including the Conservatives, the Liberal Democrat and other committee staff. They did that, they came back and said not any body who had been in that room took the view that there had been a threat - not a single person."

Was this appropriate behaviour?

"I accept that the word 'doing' was unacceptable, a member of the committee subsequently dropped me a note saying that it was capable of misinterpretation - don't use it that again in future. As soon as I got that I decided to go across to Eilidh as soon as the meeting had finished and say. I got a note from somebody saying that it was an inappropriate term to have used because it had sexual connotations, that was certainly not the intention. I made that point to her and apologised at that time. I have subsequently apologised again for that."

Will you make a more fulsome apology?

"I am happy to apologise to anyone listening and to Eilidh for using the word 'doing'."

Will you resign as chairman of the committee?

"I have apologised for using that term. I am certainly not apologising or accepting for a moment that I threatened or attempted to threaten Dr Whiteford."

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