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Gypsy-row Tory is rapped over snub for race summit; HOLYROOD LEADER TOLD TO MEET MP IN LONDON MSP His refusal speaks volumes about his willingness to change.

Byline: Mark Aitken | Political Editor

A Tory politician criticised for his attack on gypsies has refused to explain his outburst at a Holyrood summit.

MP and football referee Douglas Ross sparked outrage last month after saying his top priority as Prime Minister would be to bring in "tougher enforcement against gypsy travellers".

He has been asked by the Scottish Parliament crossparty group on racial equality to attend a meeting attended by Article 12, an advocacy group for the gypsy community.

But Ross has snubbed the meeting later this month, instead telling the group's convener to meet him at Westminster.

Ross was criticised by human rights groups including Amnesty International over his comments about gypsies and his apology was described as "weasel-worded" by the SNP.

Racial equality cross-party group convener Fulton MacGregor said: "It's disappointing that Douglas Ross has refused our invite to this interesting and important meeting on issues faced by the gypsy/ traveller community in Scotland.

"There's no doubt that this minority group faces significant discrimination - and comments by elected politicians such as those made recently by Douglas Ross do nothing to help change attitudes towards this vulnerable group, and instead deeper ingrain the discriminatory attitudes that are all too prevalent in our society. This meeting was a great opportunity for Mr Ross to fully explain his views and concerns in an open environment, alongside key members of the gypsy/traveller community from Article 12.

"His rejection speaks volumes about whether or not he's open to changing his negative attitudes towards a community that enriches Scotland culturally, socially and economically.

He added: "Ruth Davidson's tolerance of racism and bigotry within the Tory party sends completely the wrong message about what is and isn't acceptable in a modern society.

"She needs to get a grip and rein in the intolerance and prejudice which is rife in the Scottish Tory ranks, whether that is from the extremist views of some of her councillors or the discriminatory attitudes of her MPs.

"There's no place for this kind of bigotry and discrimination in 21st-century Scotland."

Ross was an MSP for just a year before unseating SNP deputy leader Angus Robertson in June's snap General Election and becoming the MP for Moray.

A Scottish Tory spokesman said: "Douglas can't even attend all party groups he gets invited to in Westminster let alone Holyrood where he's no longer an MSP.

"If Fulton MacGregor is as keen to meet Douglas as his press activity suggests, he'd happily welcome him to the UK Parliament."

His rejection speaks volumes about whether he's open to changing his attitudes

CAPTION(S):

AT ODDS Fulton MacGregor, top, and Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson

OUTBURST. Tory MP Douglas Ross

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Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Sep 10, 2017
Words:447
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