NO action will be taken against a Glasgow councillor over Twitter posts which claimed the Alba Party is “obsessed with transphobia”.

Complaints about comments made by Councillor Blair Anderson, of Glasgow’s Green group, were sent to the Standards Commission in July last year.

Anderson had tweeted about a planned Alba Party event at the Record Factory, on Byres Road — which was later cancelled by the venue and held elsewhere.

He said the bar was “welcoming the business of a party obsessed with transphobia” and “led by a man with so many allegations of sexual harassment against him”, referring to Alex Salmond who was cleared of sexual assault charges in March 2020.

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After the event was cancelled, the councillor added “bigotry has consequences” and “transphobia is unacceptable, wherever it goes”.

Following an investigation, the ethical standards commissioner recommended that Anderson’s conduct had not breached the councillors’ code of conduct. 

He reported to the Standards Commission which decided against asking for further investigation or holding a hearing. The Commission said even if Anderson’s conduct had been found to be “disrespectful or discourteous”, it was “highly likely” he would be protected by freedom of expression.

The ethical standards commissioner’s report found the Alba Party’s position “on transgender rights was both publicly known and was one it was entitled to hold” and “opposition to gender recognition reform should not automatically be associated with an ‘obsession’ with transphobia, or more generally bigotry”.

He believed the “general connection between the Alba Party and transphobia was not disrespectful” and, although it would have been “more accurate” for Anderson to have “made it clear the Alba Party’s leader had been cleared of allegations of sexual misconduct”, the statement “had a basis in fact”.

The commissioner did state the comment was “unnecessary and out of date” but added Anderson “had not identified the Alba Party’s leader by name”.

Having reviewed the evidence, the Standards Commission’s view was the people reading the tweets could “arguably be said to have inferred” that “the Alba Party was both transphobic and bigoted”.

Such inferences “without basis, could potentially, on the face of it, be considered disrespectful”, it added. However, a hearing would need to consider “the respondent’s right to freedom of expression under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights”.

The Commission believed that Anderson was likely to have protection as the “tweet concerned a matter of public and political interest, being the views of another political party and the conduct of its leader”.

“In this case, the Standards Commission considered that any inferences made by the respondent about the Alba Party being transphobic and bigoted would amount to value judgments,” its report added.

“The Standards Commission accepted, given the media coverage and public debate on the issue of transphobia and opposition to gender recognition reform, that such value judgments were likely to have been made in good faith, regardless of whether they were accurate or not.”

The Commission found the Alba Party’s leader was “entirely and easily identifiable” but the comment was “simply a statement of fact on a matter that was already in the public domain”.

Anderson declined to comment on the ruling.