Ex-SNP candidate says party member tried to smear her as a racist

Julie McAnulty claims a party member defamed her. Picture: Contributed
Julie McAnulty claims a party member defamed her. Picture: Contributed
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A former Scottish Nationalist Holyrood candidate told a court today that an attempt had been made to smear her as a racist.

Julie McAnulty has raised an action against a party member seeking £100,000 damages alleging that she was defamed.

The ex-SNP councillor is suing Sheena McCulloch, a case worker for nationalist MSP Richard Lyle, in an action at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

She maintains that Ms McCulloch made “false and defamatory statements” about her in an email sent to the party headquarters on 5 February 2016.

Ms McAnulty, from Coatbridge, denied that she held racist views and told her senior counsel Kenny McBrearty QC that her response to any suggestion she did was one of “indignation”.

In the confidential letter sent to SNP compliance manager Ian McCann, Ms McCulloch said she had read a story concerning Ms McAnulty in the Daily Record newspaper and wished to “raise formally an incident of, what I consider, racism that involved Julie”.

She said she and Ms McAnulty had been helping with canvassing in a North Lanarkshire by-election the previous year and were in her car.

She wrote: “On the journey back Julie was asking me about the trouble and infighting in the Bellshill branch and asked for my view on the trouble in Coatbridge. During this discussion Julie made a comment which I found to be unacceptable.”

“She asked if I agreed with her that it was in her words the ‘Pakis’ that were causing the problems locally and that we needed to get rid of them out of the party.

“I outlined immediately that I was not happy with her comment as I know, and respect many Muslim members locally. I informed her that what she said was unacceptable and that I considered many of the people she was referring to as friends,” she said in the email.

“For the remainder of the journey she did not speak to me. Ever since this day Julie has ignored me and refused to speak to me,” she added.

Ms McCulloch claimed in the letter that Ms McAnulty had some strong support locally including the backing of former MP Phil Boswell and she feared at the time she may suffer reprisals from her supporters if she attempted to raise this.

Others were copied into the emailed document including SNP chief executive Peter Murrell, then national secretary Patrick Grady and MSPs Alex Neil and Richard Lyle.

The hearing before Lord Uist continues.