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Thursday, March 30, 2023

Emma Harper has email privileges suspended after breaking SNP rules

Emma Harper sent a message to hundreds of party members in her region from her SNP address, telling them she was backing Yousaf for party leader.

Writing for Craig Murray’s blog, convener of the Kirkcudbright and District SNP Steve Norris said that members in “the three southernmost constituencies, Galloway and West Dumfries, Dumfriesshire and Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire” all received an email from Harper laying out her support for Yousaf.

Guidance states no one can “use a party email facility to seek to influence the votes of members in the election”.

Norris accused Harper of a “sleekit attempt to manipulate the vote and sidestep our party’s strict electoral rules”.

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According to The Times, national secretary Lorna Finn – who is running the election rather than chief executive Peter Murrell – has suspended the South of Scotland MSP’s email privileges.

Harper – who has said sorry in a statement – has also been disciplined and asked to send an apology to all three candidates.

An SNP spokesperson said the MSP had accepted she “was in the wrong” over the email. 

Norris said Finn had sent out an email reminding office bearers of the guidance and other relevant rules hours after Harper’s email had landed in people’s inboxes.

Campaign teams supporting Kate Forbes and Ash Regan are said to have been angered by Harper’s actions, with the latter convinced allies of Nicola Sturgeon favour Yousaf.

Kirsten Oswald, the SNP business convener, said: “The HQ team takes great professional pride in their impartiality. All are working diligently throughout this process and are ready to give the full weight of their support and expertise to the new party leader, whoever that might be.”

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In a seperate row, the SNP Westminster group is apparently angry over a new party press officer joining Yousaf’s campaign crew. The staff member started their job in London on February 20.

Oswald told MPs that she would write to Finn about the situation after complaints from members including Joanna Cherry, who thinks the “party machine” are behind the Health Secretary.

Stephen Flynn, the SNP’s leader at Westminster, was said to have been “furious and feels he’s been played”.

“The whole thing is deeply unsatisfactory,” said a source.

“SNP members are expected to believe that someone who recently started working for the press team at Westminster started annual leave the same week he joined, so that he could go and run a leadership campaign that wasn’t launched until a couple of days earlier.

“Even if these details are true — which many members will struggle to buy — it’s potentially unlawful and potentially a breach of the campaign rules passed by the NEC. Whoever signed this off has got serious questions to answer.

“The SNP group at Westminster should not be subsidising any candidate’s campaign.”

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