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Lanarkshire Live

Lanarkshire councillor says she was 'forced to quit' party after bullying hell

A former SNP councillor has claimed she was forced to resign from the party over bullying.

Sophia Coyle has spoken out after weeks of scandal in crisis-hit Lanarkshire which centred around its former leader Jordan Linden.

He quit his post after our sister paper, the Sunday Mail, exposed claims of predatory behaviour by the 27-year-old towards a teenage SNP member.

Coyle, 46, quit the SNP last month following the defection of her dad, fellow councillor Michael Coyle, to Labour just weeks earlier.

Despite complaining to SNP bosses about the problems, Coyle said she received no support and some of her complaints were left unanswered.

She has also accused the party leadership of turning a blind eye to harassment and called for change.

And she has accused fellow councillor Paul Di Mascio of being part of a campaign against her.

Coyle said Di Mascio, who shared the ward with her father Michael, had been “obstructive, aggressive and abusive” towards her since he became a councillor.

Di Mascio has been tipped by party insiders as a potential leader of the SNP group in Lanarkshire, currently headed up by Tracey Carracher following Linden’s resignation.

Coyle, now an independent councillor, said: “His behaviour in general towards me has caused other branch members to complain. It’s not as if I have been the only one.

“He tried to block me from standing as the branch woman’s officer and, when my dad resigned, he said I should not be involved in meetings because of what happened. I’ve no control over my dad, his decision was nothing to do with me.

Good members have written in and complained. Over the years I have emailed Ian McCann (SNP compliance officer) and I’ve yet to have a response from the guy, let alone a phone call. It’s absolutely shocking and he needs to explain what it is he’s doing about complaints.

McCann is said to be an ally of Nicola Sturgeon and husband Peter Murrell, the party’s CEO.

McCann deals with complaints from members alongside a new complaints officer hired by the party to handle grievances.

In one complaint, sent to McCann in 2020, Coyle asked for help and claimed the Airdrie and Shotts SNP branch was “out of control”. She alleged “hate speech against Nicola [Sturgeon] and Peter [Murrell], and also yourself [Ian McCann], and transphobic hate speech”.

She wrote: “Members are going to leave and it’s long-standing members who have been through highs and lows of the SNP.” Coyle alleged that Di Mascio had “refused” specific members entry to campaign events and refused to “accept my nomination for woman’s officer” within the branch.

She added: “This branch has gotten out of control and forgotten what party they are supposed to be representing.”

Coyle, who was diagnosed with type 1 Diabetes recently, said she could no longer cope with the “constant attacks”.

She added: "It’s sad, it feels like losing part of your family, as I did so much for the SNP and they’ve done nothing to help me here. It feels like I’m being blamed for my dad’s decision.

“Everyone has a breaking point. I just couldn’t take any more stress. The doctor thought I was having a stroke because of the stress.

“It is just constant and HQ wouldn’t do anything.”

The SNP said she hadn’t raised her complaint with national secretary Lorna Finn but Coyle said, as far as she was concerned, the complaints go to compliance officer Ian McCann.

She said: “I contacted Ian McCann because I’ve been in the party that long and he was always the one to speak to if you had any problems.

“The national secretary changes a lot, and they were never the one to contact so it just seems daft to suggest they’re the one you’re supposed to go to when everyone goes to Ian McCann.”

DiMascio has also been contacted for comment.

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