One of the SNP’s longest ­serving members has quit after 54 years over claims Nicola Sturgeon has failed to take action against an MSP accused of bullying.

In an explosive resignation statement – released on the eve of the First ­Minister’s keynote conference speech – Dr ­Malcolm Kerr says he would be “ashamed and embarrassed” to remain in the party.

The 68-year-old GP, a former Holyrood candidate and senior party official, has been left furious that multiple complaints over the conduct of Cunninghame North MSP Kenneth Gibson, including assault claims, remain outstanding after more than two years.

Gibson, 60, who denies the allegations, was re-elected in May despite calls for him to be dropped as a candidate and now heads one of Holyrood’s most ­influential committees.

Kerr, the former convener of the SNP’s Cunninghame North Constituency ­Association, said: “In my half-century of membership I never thought I’d say this, but I’m now ashamed and ­embarrassed to be an SNP member.

“Some two dozen active members in North ­Ayrshire drew SNP HQ’s attention to widespread concerns about Gibson’s alleged bullying and ­harassment of volunteers.

“The complaints included descriptions of alleged assaults on women as well as claims of rule-breaking, and aggressive self-entitled behaviour.

“In April, Gibson briefed the press, ­saying an ­investigation had been ­concluded and that the allegations were found to be ‘categorically untrue’.

“If that is correct, then why has the party not confirmed the claim, and also informed all the whistleblowers?

“My message for Nicola Sturgeon is – read the stories of the Ayrshire activists who provided the SNP with ­statements. Some of the content is harrowing.

“Then let us know why assault ­allegations wouldn’t trigger a referral to the SNP’s member conduct committee.

“Earlier this year you addressed the party saying you had zero tolerance for bullying and harassment, just like racism and homophobia. You were correct.

“You should now suspend Gibson to allow a full investigation to proceed.”

Kerr, who joined the party in 1967 while at school and stood in the Scottish ­Parliament election in 1999, said: ­“Sometimes silence isn’t an option.”

Dr Kerr sent a message to the First Minister
Dr Kerr sent a message to the First Minister

In November 2020 about 12 SNP ­activists made formal statements to Lesley Johnston, a senior associate in Edinburgh firm Kennedy’s Law, accusing Gibson of bullying and harassment.

The complaints procedure was triggered after we revealed claims the party had ignored bullying allegations from women.

Two party officials in Cunninghame North resigned in protest at Gibson’s alleged behaviour – Linda Nicholson and Ellen McMaster.

Nicholson, the MSP’s former election agent, said the party needed “leaders with integrity who treat volunteers with dignity and respect”.

They were among 21 members, ­activists and councillors who signed a letter of complaint sent to SNP chief executive Peter Murrell, who is married to ­Sturgeon.It was also been claimed in a letter of complaint sent from party officials to Murrell in January 2020 that Gibson broke Holyrood rules by using ­parliamentary staff for electioneering in his constituency in Ayrshire and Arran.

They said follow-up emails, phone calls and letters to party HQ detailing a string of incidents have all been ignored and no investigation has been carried out.

The statements are understood to have been passed to the SNP for further ­investigation, but the alleged victims have had no further response.

In the meantime Gibson has been appointed convener of Holyrood’s finance and public administration committee.

His nomination would have required the green light from party leadership.

Gibson said last night: “This is a wholly invented tale from Mr Kerr. His ­increasingly ­desperate attacks on me and many ­others across the party have no basis in fact.” The SNP did not respond to a request for comment.