Labour MSP backed by colleagues in condemnation of party’s complaints process

Anas Sarwar has thanked Scottish Labour MSPs after they backed his criticism of the UK party’s handling of Islamophobia allegations.

The Glasgow MSP condemned Labour’s complaints process after he was barred from giving evidence at a hearing into allegations he suffered racist abuse.

The Scottish Labour parliamentary group in Holyrood has now “expressed its solidarity” with Mr Sarwar, who has demanded the party “urgently review the process and outcome of this case”.

A motion, passed by the party’s MSPs, criticised the “inherently flawed and drawn out” complaints process and joined Mr Sarwar in calling for responsibility for disciplinary action to be devolved to the party in Scotland.

The group registered its “disappointment” at the decision of the National Constitutional Committee (NCC) to dismiss the case against Councillor Davie McLachlan, who allegedly told the MSP he could not support him as leader because “Scotland wouldn’t vote for a brown Muslim Paki”.

Mr Sarwar said he was given just four days’ notice that the NCC was going to meet to consider his complaint but when he turned up was prevented from speaking because he had not given two weeks’ notice that he planned to appear as a witness.

He said it left him “feeling deeply hurt and demoralised” by the process, which he said was “deeply flawed and not fit for purpose”.

After the party’s MSPs backed the statement supporting him, Mr Sarwar said: “I would like to thank my colleagues and all those from all parties and none who have offered such incredible support over the last few days.

“While solidarity is welcome, action is what we need.

“Ultimately, parties will be judged on their deeds not words.”

New Scottish Labour leader
Glasgow MSP Anas Sarwar and Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard (Jane Barlow/PA)

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said: “It is right that the Scottish Labour group at Holyrood has expressed its solidarity with Anas.

“The complaints Anas has made about how this case has been handled deserve to be treated seriously and he should get a full explanation.

“I have said for some time now that we need to ensure these kind of cases are dealt with more efficiently and more quickly, while maintaining a fair, transparent and rigorous system.”

He added: “We have doubled the size of the National Constitutional Committee, the independent body which hears these cases, but, as this case shows, clearly more still needs to be done.

“Anas has my full support for his campaign to root out racism and Islamophobia in our society.”

The UK Labour party has been contacted for comment.

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