Labour demands apology from SNP leader following Ibrox row

Three senior members of Scottish Labour have demanded an apology from the SNP leader of Glasgow City Council following a row over an application to create a fan zone outside Ibrox Stadium.

The fan zone would be outside Ibrox. Picture: Ian Rutherford/PA Wire
The fan zone would be outside Ibrox. Picture: Ian Rutherford/PA Wire

MSPs Pauline McNeill, Anas Sarwar and councillor Frank McAveety have written to Susan Aitken over recent remarks she made on Twitter.

It follows a backlash from Rangers fans after the Ibrox club was refused permission to use a council-owned sports facility opposite its stadium on match days, which would have catered for up to 2,000 people.

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The local authority has insisted the decision, made by Glasgow Life, was made according to existing council guidelines after nearby residents raised objections to the application.

Ms Aitken and her SNP colleague David McDonald have said they did not intervene or instruct Glasgow Life, which manages the council’s leisure facilities, to withdraw permission.

The fallout has seen a number of councillors and politicians have their say on the matter. Ms Aitken claimed on Twitter that some had exploited “sectarian division” in the city by suggesting there was anything untoward with the decision, blaming politicians “for stoking the abuse directed at me, David McDonald and his family and council officers”.

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One of the politicians criticised by Ms Aitken was Scottish Conservative MSP Adam Tomkins. He has already reported the trio to the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland over an alleged breach of the Councillors Code of Conduct.

In a joint letter, reported in the Evening Times, the Labour members said: “Twitter is often a heated and hostile environment and we strongly condemn the abuse you and your deputy have experienced. It’s unacceptable however to make the claim that our role in asking legitimate questions of you amounts to ‘stoking bigotry’.”

They added: “Such is the strength of feeling we would ask that you withdraw this allegation and apologise for it immediately.”

They said Ms Aitken was “deliberately attempting to impugn our reputation” and risked provoking social media abuse towards those named.

Ms Aitken also wrote to Rangers and was critical of staff at the club for using social media to allege footballing bias.

She said she had no objection in principle to Rangers hosting a fan zone.