Senior Labor Party official on inquiries into bullying and misogyny

Glasgow City Councilor Frank McAveety has been accused of yelling at one of his colleagues in his office so violently that she was “red and shaking”.

The woman says she backed out of the room with her hands up and said, “Stop yelling at me.”

Scottish Labor General Secretary John-Paul McHugh is understood to have spoken to the councilwoman about the situation.

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Cllr McAveety, 61, dropped out of a selection competition for candidates at Westminster earlier this year because he was concerned about previous sleazy comments he had made while at Holyrood.

In 2010, he resigned as committee chair after overhearing that a girl in the gallery was “very attractive” and “dark and somber.” It later turned out that she was 15 years old.

The official complaint comes as Labor is trying to focus on the Rutherglen & Hamilton West by-election, which is seen as crucial to Labor’s prospects in the general election.

Cllr McAveety has campaigned for the seat on behalf of the Labor candidate.

The woman submitted a detailed opinion on Cllr McAveety to the Labor Party’s Complaints Office this week under the categories of “bullying, intimidation or harassment” and “sexism or misogyny”.

The Herald does not identify her.

Labor said any complaints lodged with her “will be fully investigated and all appropriate action taken, in accordance with our rules and procedures”.

Cllr McAveety is Labour’s chief executive on the SNP-led council, overseeing voting and discipline and serving as right-hand man to opposition leader George Redmond.

The councilwoman is understood to say in the complaint that she felt “terrified and confused” after meeting Cllr McAveety following last year’s local elections.

She describes being alone with him and says he asked her if she had heard of him as a “misogynist” and described the “tough love” he experienced during his violent childhood.

The woman said she attempted to avoid Cllr McAveety afterward.


Later, in an incident she regretted, the woman called a political official “damn” in an email, as she took it as a sign of their friendly relationships outside of work.

Although she apologized, she said Cllr McAveety used the incident to target her.

She said he accused her in a phone call of “shaming” the party, warned her against filing a complaint with an ethics regulator and that his “threats and shouting had become unbearable”.

She said a second call turned into “complete character assassination,” his tone was “feral and snarling,” and he repeatedly asked her, “Who do you think you are?”

In the months that followed, the woman said she corresponded with Cllr McAveety deputy Maureen Burke and felt “attacked and singled out” while complaints of inappropriate and sexist comments from male councilors appeared to go unpunished.

After seeking advice from another politician and emailing her concerns to the CEO’s office, there was a pause during which Cllr McAveety “seemed very comfortable.”

However, this all changed after the Labor Group’s annual general meeting in May and ‘it all started over’.

She said she was called to a meeting at Cllr McAveety’s office, where Cllr Burke was also present, and where Cllr McAveety wanted to know why she was avoiding him.

She said he “kept screaming, why? Why? Why?” and “slammed both hands on the table”.

She said he was “red and shaking” and later “came up to me,” after which she stepped back from the room with her hands out and said, “Stop yelling at me.”

She said she then called the Scottish Labor Party general secretary and “told him everything” at a later meeting. Though he tried to help behind the scenes, it didn’t work, she said.

She also complained that Cllr McAveety humiliated her in front of other Labor councillors, albeit not by name, citing disciplinary proceedings she was involved in at group meetings.

She said she has tried to avoid “setting the tone at this formal level” but that there is a problem in the party with “who is friends with whom”.

Cllr McAveety was Chairman of Glasgow City Council from 1997 to 1999 and 2015 to 2017 and MSP for Glasgow Shettleston from 1999 to 2011.

His deputy, Cllr Burke, is the Labor Party candidate for the general election in north-east Glasgow.

Last week, during the Rutherglen post-election campaign, Scottish Labor MP Jackie Baillie accused the SNP of being “the most scandalous party in Scottish political history”.

The move backfired, however, as allegations of a “toxic” culture then surfaced within the Labor group, which runs South Lanarkshire Council, which holds the seat.


Cllr McAveety campaigned as part of the post-election campaign in Blantyre last month.

In 2010, Mr McAveety, a former Culture Secretary, resigned as Chair of Holyrood’s Petitions Committee after he was caught making lewd remarks about a schoolgirl.

Parliament’s mics caught him as he said: “There’s a very attractive girl in the second row, dark… and somber. We might get a little word out for them.”

The then-married MSP continued, “She looks very attractive, nice, very nice, very slim,” adding, “I’m getting on my nerves with the heat. She kind of looks… she has this Filipino look. You know… that’s how you would see it in a Gauguin painting. There’s a bit of culture in there.”

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Earlier this year, Cllr McAveety attempted to run for Labor’s general election.

He was one of four shortlisted for a joint selection in Glasgow East and Glasgow North East.

After the local party executive tried to reduce the list to Cllr McAveety and Cllr Burke and select them with virtually no vote from members, there was an angry backlash and Scottish Labor intervened to suspend the competition in January.

Labor Women’s Network also criticized the party for “turning a blind eye to the “deeply sexualised and racist statements” he made in 2010.

The LWN said: “Selection processes are rightly devolved, but the need to protect women and girls is universal. Men whose behavior raises red flags should not be further empowered.”

Within days, Cllr McAveety had withdrawn from the selection campaign.

A Labor Party spokesman said: “The Labor Party takes all complaints seriously.

“They will be fully investigated in accordance with our rules and procedures and all appropriate action will be taken.”

Cllr McAveety was contacted for comment.

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