Labour faces racism claim

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THE LABOUR Party in Scotland is facing a court claim of racism, it was confirmed yesterday.

A former Strathclyde Labour councillor has launched an action at Glasgow Sheriff Court to sue the party for racial discrimination.

Neelam Bakshi, former councillor for Maryhill and Summerston, is claiming pounds 20,000 in damages after being rejected from Labour's approved list of candidates for the Scottish Parliament.

Ms Bakshi, who now works for Fife Council, claims she was not told why she was rejected and was given no opportunity to appeal.

A Labour spokesman confirmed that the Party had been served with a writ but added that the claims were "ludicrous". He said: "She did have an appeal and the appeal was unsuccessful. A number of candidates did request and have meetings and we gave them feedback on the selection process, but she did not ask for one." The spokesman added: "Our system was open, democratic and fair."

Ms Bakshi, a councillor from 1990 to 1996, said that her case was being backed by the Commission for Racial Equality.

She added that although she did appeal against the selection panel decision she was given no explanation for her original rejection or for the failure of her subsequent appeal.

Ms Bakshi has won a previous racial discrimination case against Falkirk Council. The Commission for Racial Equality confirmed they had backed Ms Bakshi in the case in April 1996. But Ms Bakshi, who is still a member of the Labour Party, said it was a condition of the settlement that she was not allowed to talk publicly about the case.

She added: "I do not make a habit of bringing race discrimination cases."

Glasgow Sheriff Court said no hearing date had been fixed.