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New allegations of racism against burka slur councillor

Transport minister Humza Yousaf has again called on Jim Dempster to resign.

By STV News

Published 22 Mar 2018.

Fresh allegations of racist behaviour by Labour councillor Jim Dempster are being investigated by the party.

Transport minister Humza Yousaf has again called for the councillor to step down.

The Dumfries and Galloway councillor made an Islamophobic comment in relation to Yousaf during a meeting with officials about local road issues.

He had said that "no one would have seen (Yousaf) under his burka" if he visited the region.

Two individuals have made new allegations against Dempster, saying he used racist language towards them when they were children.

One of his accusers claimed Dempster chased her around his shop with an air freshener saying she smelled of curry, and he called her names over a ten-year period.

The other said he endured "ten years of hell" at the hands of Dempster, and suffered racist taunts when he went into the shop.

Dempster was suspended from Scottish Labour after the comment about Yousaf emerged, and he apologised for the remark.

He said earlier: "I do not believe that the comments I made reflect the actions or views that I have held during my service to my community."

He has denied the latest allegations made against him.

Yousaf said: "The lastest allegations of racism involving Jim Dempster are extremely concerning.

"They point towards a sustained campaign of racial hatred directed towards children from a person in a position of responsibility.

"I would urge all victims of hatred to come forward and have their voices heard and their stories told. No one should get away with absuing people, let alone children, in this way.

"Jim Dempster has been spending the last few days taking part in staged photo-ops in an attempt to save his career."

He continued: "Instead, he should apologise to the multiple victims of his racial prejudice who claim to have been abused by him over a number of years.

"Jim Dempster must realise his position is completely untenable and he must now resign, with immediate effect."

A Scottish Labour spokesman said: "James Dempster has been suspended by the Scottish Labour Party, and an investigation is ongoing.

"The investigation will consider any new allegations. The Labour Party has a zero tolerance policy towards racism and all forms of discrimination."

Elaine Murray, leader of Dumfries and Galloway Council, said: "The new allegations are extremely serious and if found to have substance I have no doubt that Jim will be expelled from the Labour Party.

"Jim denies the allegations and there is a process of investigation to be undertaken. The Scottish legal tradition is that a person is innocent unless proved guilty.

"I appreciate that the accusers wish to preserve their anonymity but I would urge them to take part in the investigation, I understand that they are both known to Anas Sarwar and I am sure that he would arrange for this to be done sensitively."