Scotland politics

Labour official 'sorry' for anti-Catholic comment

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Media captionAndy Kerr: "Seeing as you are being persistent, I am going to take you. Did you cross yourself there? In that case I might not."

A Scottish Labour party official who made an anti-Catholic comment at the party's UK conference has apologised.

Andy Kerr, the chairman of the UK Labour party's ruling National Executive Committee, said he "might not" call a female delegate to speak after seeing her cross herself.

He later apologised "unreservedly" for the "ill-judged and wrong" comment.

Scottish leader Richard Leonard said there was "absolutely no room" in the party for such "unacceptable" remarks.

Mr Kerr was speaking from the stage at Labour's conference in Liverpool when he invited a question from a female delegate.

During a live broadcast on the BBC's Parliament channel, he was then heard, but not seen, saying: "Did you cross yourself, there? In that case, I might not."

Questioned about this, Mr Kerr - who is also a deputy general secretary of the Communication Workers Union - said he would "apologise unreservedly".

He added: "I was trying to be light-hearted, but what I said was ill-judged and wrong."

The comment was condemned by political opponents, with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon calling it "appalling".

She added: "The Catholic community is an integral and valued part of Scottish life. Everyone who stands for a Scotland where bigotry and sectarianism have no place, and where we positively embrace diversity, must unite to condemn - regardless of party."

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson agreed, saying: "People from all parties and none will be appalled by this and by the casual dismissal of concerns."

Asked on the BBC's Good Morning Scotland radio programme whether the comment was "bigoted", Mr Leonard said "that might be one way of describing it".

He added: "There is absolutely no room inside the Labour Party for that kind of remark, whether it's meant as a form of humour or not.

"It's completely unacceptable and Andy Kerr has unreservedly apologised for the remark that he made."

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