Labour complaints procedure slammed by Anas Sarwar after racism case thrown out
Labour MSP Anas Sawar has condemned the party’s internal complaints procedure after an investigation into his complaint against a councillor who allegedly used racist language found there was “no case to answer”.
Labour's National Constitutional Committee (NCC), meeting in Glasgow, dismissed the complaint against South Lanarkshire councillor Davie McLachlan, who Sarwar said had told him "Scotland wouldn't vote for a brown Muslim Paki".
In a statement, McLachlan welcomed the decision. "My reputation and character have been badly maligned by the false accusations that were made against me,” he said, “but there is some consolation for me in the fact that there are many, many people who know for sure that I never have, and never would, harbour racist views.”
But Sarwar released a statement earlier which was highly critical of the process. In it he said that after 15 months of waiting he was apparently only given four days’ notice of the hearing, only to be told he couldn't appear as a witness because he hadn't given two weeks’ notice.
“It is important that disciplinary processes are fair and transparent,” Sarwar said.
“But it’s now clear that the Labour Party’s disciplinary process is deeply flawed and not fit for purpose. It is not fair on either the complainant or the accused for the process to last 15 months. It is not transparent if witnesses are not adequately informed and then barred from providing evidence.”
Sarwar also said the fact complaints made in Scotland are dealt with by the UK party “ludicrous”.
“If even I, as a former deputy leader, interim leader, leadership candidate and shadow cabinet member, don’t believe I can get a fair hearing or adequate support from an institution like the Labour Party, then I am left wondering what chance those experiencing discrimination in other walks of life have,” he said.
A spokesman for Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said: "Richard has said for some time now that he has concerns about the disciplinary process, how properly resourced it is, and whether it delivers fairness to both sides."
Last week all of Scotland’s political parties accepted the recommendations of Holyrood’s Cross-Party Group on Tackling Islamophobia to adopt a formal definition of anti-muslim discrimination.