New Nairn provost in trouble over ‘anti-Moslem’ remark

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A provost who recently forced out an SNP councillor and replaced her in the civic role has been reported to the Standards Commission after making a comment about moslems during a hearing into an application for a pub licence.

A provost who recently forced out an SNP councillor and replaced her in the civic role has been reported to the Standards Commission after making a comment about moslems during a hearing into an application for a pub licence.

Laurie Fraser was appointed provost in May by Labour councillor Sandy Park and Lib Dem Graham Marsden after the three had forced long standing SNP councillor Liz MacDonald to resign from the role.

The three said the reason for the change was that Mrs Macdonald, as a member of the opposition, was finding herself increasingly in conflict with both council policy and her colleagues locally who are members of the ruling administration.

Mrs MacDonald was removed from her position after she voiced her opposition to the possible closure of Nairn Swimming Pool. Hundreds of residents have since joined a Facebook campaign to reinstate her as Provost of Nairn.

The new furore erupted after her replacement Mr Fraser, an independent, objected to a planning application to turn Nairn County FC Social Club into a sports bar.  The bar proposal attracted more than 150 letters of support, but Mr Fraser claimed a large number of them were from members of the former social club.

Fellow councillors then heard him say: “One or two of them are actually Moslems.”

Mr Fraser was immediately interrupted and asked to sit down by the committee chairman, he then apologised repeatedly for what he had just said.

Local resident Chris Mackinnon, 37, of Murray Terrace, Inverness, saw the debate on a Highland Council webcast and plans to make an official complaint to the council.  He claims Mr Fraser’s comment “was of a defamatory nature on a matter of supporters’ race”.

Mr Mackinnon said: “Councillor Fraser is at the forefront of the Nairn community and should conduct himself in a more appropriate manner.”

Mr Fraser has sent a letter of apology to the council’s chief executive, he said: “I flipped and lost my temper because I wasn’t given a vote as a local member.”

It is understood that two e-mails of complaint have been received about Mr Fraser’s comments.

Councillor John Finnie, the SNP opposition leader on the council, has written to the Standards Commission calling for an investigation.

Mr Finnie, who is a former member of Grampian Racial Equality Council, said: “I was shocked that Councillor Fraser, an elected representative of our multicultural Highlands, would think it appropriate to comment in the offensive way he did.”

In his letter to the Standards Commission, Mr Finnie says: “I wish to formally complain about what I consider to be a racist comment made by Councillor Laurie Fraser at the meeting of the Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey planning applications committee.”