Dumfries and Galloway councillor Jim Dempster
A scandal hit councillor is at the centre of a fresh race row after he was accused of chasing a girl around a shop with an air freshener telling her she ‘smelled like curry.’
Jim Dempster – who is already suspended by the party for a burka slur against transport minister Humza Yousaf – is alleged to have taunted a six-year-old Muslim.
The latest claims allege that the Labour councillor also called her a ‘chocolate monkey’ and her brother a ‘Jew boy’ because he knew he would be circumcised.
The latest allegations, which Mr Dempster strongly denies, have been made by a brother and sister and are said to have occurred in the late 80s and early 90s when they were children.
The Dumfries and Galloway councillor owned a shop at the time in the village of Sanquhar and is said to have ‘picked on them’ whenever they went inside.
The allegations are now being investigated by the Labour party after it was included in a dossier sent to Scottish Labour Party leader Richard Leonard.
Mr Dempster has strongly denied the claims.
The sister said in her complaint, which was reported in the Daily Record: ‘When I was aged six or seven, Councillor Dempster chased me around his shop with an air freshener, saying I smelled of curry.
‘He was often verbally racist, calling me many names over a period of 10 years.
‘One of the racist insults I vividly remember him calling me is ’chocolate monkey’.
‘The distress he caused me made me anxious to the extent that I would avoid going to the shop when he was there.
Scottish Transport minister Humza Yousaf (left) has called on Mr Dempster to resign after the latest allegations against him surfaced
‘In addition, in his role as a volunteer firefighter, I would see him at local Gala Days – only increasing my anxiety.’
The brother said he had endured ’10 years of hell at the hands of Councillor Jim Dempster.’
He said: ‘He would often pick on me whenever I went into his shop. He would target me by calling me names.
‘I was often referred to as a Paki by Councillor Dempster.
‘He would also call me ‘Jew boy’ because he knew as a Muslim I was circumcised, just as a Jewish person would have been.
‘The racism I received from Jim has haunted me my whole life. I tried to suppress it but I now feel I have to speak out.’
Mailonline has contacted Mr Dempster for comment.
Responding to an email sent to the Daily Record he said of the latest claims: ‘The allegations in your email are totally untrue.
‘There is no substance at all in the allegations.’
Dempster was suspended by Labour last week after he told transport officials at a meeting that you can’t see Scottish National Party Transport Minister Humza Yousaf ‘under the burka.’
He has apologised to Mr Yousaf saying he could offer no defence or explanation. He later visited local mosque, and had his picture taken with a local imam, then issued a statement saying it will ‘allow me to learn more about the issues facing ethnic minorities.’
Mr Yousaf has repeated calls for Mr Dempster to quit. He urged him to step down from his role as Labour councillor following his burka comment, and did not accept his apology.
Today he told BBC Radio Scotland that the two alleged victims had contacted him ‘when they saw Jim Dempster’s face across the news’
He said: ‘One of them contacted me by email on the day that the allegations surfaced of the Islamophobic slur Jim Dempster made against me.
‘Another one contacted me a couple of days ago.
‘It’s just really disturbing, these incidents took place allegedly a number of years ago but both victims tell me they really had just suppressed them but when they saw Jim Dempster’s face across the news they just said they had to come forward.
‘They wish to remain anonymous but told quite graphic accounts of sustained racial abuse over a decade.’
Mr Yousaf said both he and Labour MSP Anas Sarwar – who recently launched a campaign against ‘Everyday Islamophobia’ – had spoken to the victims.
He said: ‘One of the victims told me he was haunted by it, he said he had suppressed it, he said the 10 years that he lived in the area in Sanquhar and he was a victim of that abuse were the worst 10 years of his life.
‘He said when he saw Jim Dempster’s face again on the news he couldn’t sleep. It really has had an impact on them, I really applaud them on their bravery having spoken to both of them.’
Mr Yousaf said: ‘What Councillor Dempster doesn’t deny is making an Islamophobic slur. We have to ask ourselves, somebody who admits such inexcusable behaviour – do they have a role in our politics and our political life?
‘And the fact that he’s been trying to get to mosques, do photo ops, to me shows he is more interested in saving his political career than he is in showing any true remorse, so I repeat my calls on him to resign.’
He added: ‘The honourable thing for Jim Dempster to do would be to resign instead of trying to scramble to save his political career.’
Councillor Elaine Murray, leader of Dumfries and Galloway Council, said: ‘The new allegations are extremely serious and if found to have substance I have no doubt that Jim will be expelled from the Labour Party.’
A Scottish Labour spokesman said: ‘James Dempster has been suspended by the Scottish Labour Party, and an investigation is ongoing.
‘The investigation will consider any new allegations. The Labour Party has a zero tolerance policy towards racism and all forms of discrimination.’