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ANAS SARWAR came under pressure to withdraw his support from a controversial Labour candidate today after a group of female activists called on party chiefs to intervene.
Asim Khan wants to contest the Westminster seat of Glasgow South West at the next general election. He is challenging union rep Matt Kerr, who slashed the SNP majority to 60 votes last year.
It has emerged that an employment tribunal found Mr Khan responsible for a “complete failure” to protect a woman worker at now-defunct charity Roshni, which he chaired.
The judge ruled Mr Khan had taken “no action” when the woman approached him about being harassed by another senior figure at the charity. Mr Khan denies any wrongdoing.
He is said to be supported by Mr Sarwar, the unsuccessful right-wing candidate in last autumn’s Scottish Labour leadership election.
Now 10 women members of the local Labour Party have written to British party leader Jeremy Corbyn, his Scottish Labour counterpart Richard Leonard and other senior officials.
They said: “We feel Khan is unfit to be a Labour Party candidate, let alone an elected Member of Parliament.”
Mr Khan did not respond to the Star’s request for comment, but he told the Herald newspaper that it was “time for malicious attacks to end.”
Mr Sarwar, now Scottish Labour’s front-bench health spokesman, is facing pressure to withdraw his support for Mr Khan.
During his leadership campaign, Mr Sarwar described allegations that interim leader Alex Rowley had harassed a former partner – which Mr Rowley denies – as “serious and deeply concerning.” But now party figures are contrasting this response with his silence over the allegations against Mr Khan.
One Labour activist said Mr Sarwar had run “a respectful campaign” for the leadership last year, but that it was “beyond belief” that he was supporting a candidate with a “history of silencing women.”
The member added: “Considering Mr Sarwar does such a huge amount of work fighting for under-represented minorities both nationally and locally, you'd think he would see the real worry women of the constituency face over Asim Khan as their candidate.”
Another source said: “During the leadership contest, Sarwar spoke about the need for Scottish Labour to be ‘at the vanguard of the fight for gender equality.’
“Now he’s supporting a man who a judge described as ‘evasive’ and ‘untruthful.’ If Sarwar thinks Khan represents the vanguard of gender equality, then he is insulting the thousands of women who helped build the Labour Party in order to create a better society.”
Mr Sarwar did not respond to the Star’s requests for comment.
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