Speaking to The Scotsman at an Edinburgh café, the complainant against Tory MSP Miles Briggs, “Emily”, said she was appalled that Mr Briggs could be exonerated without evidence from her and two witnesses to the alleged harassment being heard.
All three had refused to appear before the committee on the advice of Rape Crisis Scotland on the grounds that the process was “flawed”.
READ MORE: Miles Briggs cleared by party after ‘inappropriate’ hearing
In particular, they objected to the “adversarial” approach under which both Emily and her witnesses were to undergo “cross-examination”.
Rape Crisis Scotland had called for the process to be more of a fact-finding exercise similar to that now adopted by the Scottish Parliament, but says the Scottish Conservatives refused to back down.
Emily said she agonised over whether or not to report the incident, but was losing sleep. When she first wrote to Ruth Davidson, she says her main priority was to avoid publicity. She claims before she sent the letter, she met party director Lord Mark McInnes to seek reassurance, and was told she would be protected and Mr Briggs would be suspended which never happened.
Later she says it became clear the disciplinary committee was not treating the complaint with sufficient rigour.
She says it took more than a month to get a response from Mr Briggs.
“No-one asked us to provide witness statements - Rape Crisis Scotland had to say to them, don’t you want them? And no-one kept in touch about the progress of the case - we heard very little until a week and a half ago when Rape Crisis Scotland was told I would have to submit to direct questioning by Miles.”
After chief executive Sandy Brindley intervened, the party agreed to ask Mr Briggs if he would be willing to leave the room and allow the complainant to be questioned by the chairman. He agreed, but the other witnesses were expected to give their evidence with him present.
Emily says she was not comfortable being questioned on the basis of Mr Briggs’ statement which she hadn’t seen.
Rape Crisis Scotland sought clarification on the gender composition of the committee and reassurance that its members had undergone sexual harassment training. It says it got neither and advised Emily and the witnesses not to attend.
Emily said: “I’m gutted that Miles has been found to have done nothing wrong.
“I’m sad and angry that the process was so terrible that it felt as though this end result was written from very early on. My question is how is anyone on that committee is qualified to judge my credibility, it’s not a court.
“These last few days have been terrible. If this had been dealt with well, I would not have gone to the press.”