Councillor 'stunned' by racism allegations

31 January 2018, 14:05

Anas Sarwar

The councillor suspended by Scottish Labour amid allegations of racism and Islamophobia has said he is "stunned" by the claims.

Davie McLachlan, who had been leader of the Labour group on South Lanarkshire Council, said he "categorically denied" making racist remarks to leadership candidate Anas Sarwar and said he would launch a robust defence.

He issued a statement after being suspended by Scottish Labour Party bosses pending an investigation into Mr Sarwar's claims.

The Glasgow MSP, who lost the leadership contest to left-winger Richard Leonard, claimed an elected councillor had told him he could not support him because he was a "brown, Muslim Paki".

He did not initially name the councillor but on Tuesday he met with party bosses and provided them with details in writing as well as disclosing the identity of the councillor.

Mr McLachlan said afterwards: "I categorically deny these deeply hurtful allegations.

"I'm stunned and dismayed at the claims that I would say such things, and I will defend myself robustly in the party's investigation and in any actions that follow.

"Early in the campaign I pledged my support to Anas but later decided to support Mr Leonard. Anas will know this and would understandably be disappointed."

Mr Sarwar earlier explained he had not spoken about the comments during last autumn's Scottish leadership contest as he did not want to be accused of "playing the so-called race card".

Going public with the claims was the "most difficult" thing he had done, the MSP added, but stressed it was also the "right thing to do".

Mr Sarwar has just launched a cross-party group on tackling racism and Islamophobia at the Scottish Parliament.

He insisted that elected politicians "should be held to a higher standard" than the public on such issues.