Labour's Anas Sarwar claims party bosses ‘barred’ him from giving evidence at Islamophobia probe

Posted On: 
30th April 2019

Scottish Labour's former deputy leader Anas Sarwar has claimed he was "barred" from giving evidence at a "deeply flawed" probe into allegations of Islamophobia against him.

Glasgow MSP Anas Sarwar lost to Richard Leonard in the 2017 race to be Scottish Labour leader
Credit: 
PA Images

A party investigation found there was “no case to answer” in relation to the Glasgow MSP's claim last year that Labour councillor Davie MacLachlan used racist language against him.

Mr MacLachlan was alleged to have told Mr Sarwar that he could not support his bid to be Scottish Labour leader because "Scotland wouldn't vote for a brown Muslim P***".

Former Jeremy Corbyn aide backs Anas Sarwar to be new Scottish Labour leader

Jeremy Corbyn blasts ‘disgusting’ Islamophobic hate mail sent to Labour MPs

WATCH: Tory chair says members suspended over Islamophobia could be let back in if they apologise

The South Lanarkshire councillor welcomed yesterday's ruling, saying the allegations were “false” and that he would never “harbour racist views."

But Mr Sarwar, who ran for the Scottish Labour leadership in 2017 blasted the UK Labour party's "deeply flawed" processes.

And he said he had been given less than a week's notice of the National Constitutional Committee (NCC) hearing into his case - only to then be told he could not give evidence as he had not provided two weeks’ notice of his plan to appear.

"After 15 months of little or no communication or updates, I was notified by the Labour Party late in the afternoon last Thursday that the NCC hearing would be on Monday, April 29, at 11am – just four days later," he said in a statement.

“I was asked if I could make myself available as a witness. I emailed back expressing my disappointment at the short notice and asking a number of questions about the process.

“I got a response back at 8.30am on Monday morning and all the relevant paperwork sent to me just before 9am for a hearing that was due to start at 11am.

“When I arrived at the hearing I was informed by an NCC representative that I could not give evidence as I had not given the committee two weeks’ notice of my intention to appear as a witness. I was asked to leave and was unable to provide any evidence.

“The UK Labour NCC panel subsequently ruled that there was no case to answer without any verbal evidence being taken.”

'NOT FIT FOR PURPOSE'

The former Shadow Scotland Secretary said the episode left the impression that anti-Muslim hatred remained one of “the last acceptable forms of prejudice”.

“It is important that disciplinary processes are fair and transparent. But it’s now clear that the Labour Party’s disciplinary process is deeply flawed and not fit for purpose," he continued.

“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. 

“The UK Labour Party needs to provide a full explanation on its handling of this case, but more importantly it needs to understand the message that this sends about the party’s commitment to tackling Islamophobia and all forms of prejudice.”

Reacting to the NCC decision this week, Mr McLachlan said he had been "badly maligned by the false allegations".

A Labour Party spokesperson said: "The Labour Party takes all complaints extremely seriously, which are fully investigated in line with our rules and procedures and any appropriate disciplinary action is taken."