November 22, 2019

West Lothian councillor suspended over antisemitic blog post

Source: BBC
An SNP (The Scottish National Party) councillor has been suspended from West Lothian Council meetings for three months after sharing an "antisemitic" article online.

Watchdogs sanctioned Councillor Frank Anderson for "disrespectful conduct" after he shared a controversial blog on social media last October.

The article attacked GMB Scotland's Rhea Wolfson over her role in the Glasgow City Council equal pay dispute.

The blog Grouse Beater, run by Gareth Wardell, also referenced Hitler and said: "He accused 'The Jew' of gradually assuming leadership of the trade union movement."

The SNP say they expelled Wardell from the party over the comments.

On Wednesday, a Standards Commission panel agreed the article was "antisemitic".

It heard Anderson's position was that he hadn't read the article properly at the time and hadn't realised Wolfson was Jewish.

However, he had initially defended the article in comments published in the National newspaper in October of last year.

The panel noted Anderson had sent Wolfson an email apology, while a separate apology had been published in the media.

It was determined Anderson had caused a great deal of distress to Wolfson and had breached the Councillors' Code of Conduct by failing to behave in a respectful manner towards the GMB member.

Paul Walker, member of the Standards Commission and chair of the hearing panel, said: "While the panel was pleased to note that Councillor Anderson apologised to the individual concerned, it nevertheless considered that his conduct, in sharing and subsequently defending an offensive and anti-Semitic article, went well beyond that which is acceptable."

A spokesman for the SNP said: "Antisemitism has no place in Scotland, and no place in the SNP.

"The author of the blog was expelled from the SNP.

"Councillor Anderson apologised for sharing the blog, admitting that he hadn't understood the context and acknowledged his lack of insight on the topic."