The row over alleged intimidation and bullying of a female councillor by a member of Glasgow Council’s ruling Labour group has escalated today with the news that the chief suspect in the scandal was previously investigated by police over claims of sexual harassment.
Newsnet Scotland can reveal that Labour councillor Gilbert Davidson, who is at the centre of allegations that he threatened the apprenticeship of a former colleagues disabled son in order to get her to back his party in a crucial vote, was arrested in 2010 on charges of sexual harassment.
As reported by Newsnet Scotland at the time, Davidson faced claims that he sent lewd and offensive phone calls and text messages to former Lord Provost Liz Cameron and asked her to share a room with him. The calls were reported to have taken place during a by-election in Drumchapel.
Mr Davidson was charged after Ms Cameron made a formal complaint to Strathclyde police, Davidson was suspended by the Glasgow Labour group but re-instated after the charges were later dropped.
At the time Davidson was already under investigation after being accused of groping another female councillor Ruth Black.
The latest row to hit the scandal ridden local authority has led to calls from opposition parties for a full investigation into allegations of bullying and intimidation within the Glasgow Labour group.
SNP MSP James Dornan, who is also a councillor, has called on Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont to condemn the intimidation of Ms Millar.
Yesterday one of Mr Davidson’s own colleagues admitted that there is a need to find out what happened regarding the claims made by Ms Millar, who said her son’s apprenticeship was used in a bid to persuade her to back the Labour party in a crucial budget vote.
Glasgow Labour councillor Stephen Curran is the chair of City Building, the firm that employs Ms Millar’s son Stephen, Mr Davidson is also a board member.
Mr Curran was responding to angry online reaction after Ms Millar was shown breaking down on TV. Tweeting he said there was a “need to find out what actually happened”.
Speculation had been growing over the identity of the Labour councillor after a TV interview showed a distressed Ms Millar breaking down when describing how she was approached by someone from the Glasgow Labour group who reminded her that he sat on the board of the firm that employed her disabled son.
Speaking to STV news, Ms Millar claimed she was asked to vote for the Labour group “one more time” and claimed she was put under intense pressure to support her former party.
“A colleague spoke to me and said he sat on the board of City Building and asked if my son had an apprenticeship there.
“I asked him if he was threatening my son’s apprenticeship. He can have all the goes at me that he likes but don’t bring my son into it.”
If it is confirmed that Gilbert Davidson is indeed the person who brought up Ms Millar’s disabled son’s employment and reminded her that he [Davidson] sat on the board then pressure will mount on beleaguered group leader Gordon Matheson to take action.
Mr Matheson has resisted calls for him to step down after several high profile resignations from the party. Six Labour councillors left amid accusations that London were dictating local candidate selections. The resignations have left the Labour group with a majority of just one.
The local authority has been plagued by allegations of drug use, nepotism and corruption stretching back to the days of disgraced former leader Stephen Purcell with well paid positions on council controlled firms going to people with connections to Labour.
Public cash is also reported to have found its way into the coffers of the Labour party and high profile donors of the party have benefitted from lucrative council contracts.
Strathclyde Police are currently investigating claims that land was sold by the council at a price lower than the official valuation and that opposition groups who questioned the deal were given false information in response.