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Racist gaffe MP's free trip to make friends with China; BIGOTRY SHAME POLITICIAN'S PAID-FOR VISIT TO FAR EAST JUSTMONTHS BEFORE SHOCKING BURNS NIGHT SPEECH; Gaffney was part of all-party group who went on five-day jaunt to strengthen ties with superpower.

Byline: Mark Aitken

Race row MP Hugh Gaffney went on an all-expenses paid trip to China just months before making a racist remark about the Chinese, the Sunday Mail can reveal.

The Scottish Labour MP is facing calls for his suspension over offensive comments he made about the Chinese community and gay people at a student Burns supper in Edinburgh.

Astonishingly, his comments followed a trip to Guangdong and Guangxi in November with Westminster's all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on China.

The group was founded to build relations between the UK and China. But on Wednesday, Gaffney was forced to apologise for the offence he caused by using a derogatory term involving the Chinese.

Last night, SNP MSP Humza Yousaf said: "The fact that Hugh Gaffney recently went on an all-expenses-paid trip to China, and is part of the APPG on China, makes his comments all the more staggering.

"I'm sure everyone involved in the APPG on China, something which exists explicitly to contribute positively to the UK-China relationship, will be deeply concerned about Gaffney's bigoted remarks.

"Casual racism and bigotry are serious issues that a serious leader wouldn't need to think twice about, and Richard Leonard shouldn't need me to remind to him of that.

"We need deeds not words and at the very least, the whip should be withdrawn and Hugh Gaffney suspended from the party."

A Scottish Conservative spokesman said: "Considering Hugh Gaffney visited China just a short while ago, you think he would know that the language he used was totally inappropriate.

"Instead he used a highly offensive term that has absolutely no place in modern society."

Gaffney stunned his audience of Labour students at a Burns Supper in Edinburgh with a racist remark about Chinese people. The Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill MP apologised after his comment came to light.

He said he would do "everything possible to make amends with both the Chinese community and the LGBT community" and would take part in equality and diversity training "at the earliest opportunity".

Former postie Gaffney, 54, was elected as an MP last June in the snap election.

In November, he and seven other MPs from the APPG went on the five-day trip to China.

According to Gaffney's register of interests, his cost for the trip was PS1627, including PS908 for flights, PS540 for accommodation and PS67 for food and drink.

As The group were formed to "widen the parliamentary contribution to the UK-China bilateral relationship". The visit was sponsored by John Swire & Sons, HSBC, City of London, Cambridge Assessment, Arup and EDF Energ y.

Chinese person, would trust He resign Gaffney posted pictures on his Facebook page of the MPs in meetings with Chinese representatives and trying out new technology. He wrote: "With a no-deal Brexit looming under the Tories, we need to look outwards in the world and while on my visit, I had the pleasure of meeting companies such as Huawei Mobile and seeing the technological boom going on in China."

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard insisted on Thursday that "appropriate action" had been taken against Gaffney after he was reprimanded and agreed to attend equality and diversity training.

But Labour MSP Anas Sarwar said such training was not a "punishment".

Last month, Sarwar told our sister paper the Daily Record he suffered racial abuse when he stood in the contest for the Scottish Labour leadership last year. He said a party colleague allegedly told him some voters aren't ready for a "brown, Muslim Paki". The claim was denied by Davie McLachlan, Labour group leader on South Lanarkshire Council.

He has been suspended while an investigation is held. A Labour spokesman said: "Hugh Gaffney has been reprimanded for using inappropriate and offensive language.

"He has apologised unreservedly and referred himself for equality and diversity training. "The Labour Party are clear that this language is unacceptable."

Tammy Wong, secretary of the executive committee at the Edinburgh Chinese Community School, said: "I was very offended by the comments.

"As a Chinese person, I would not trust him at all over anything. I think he should resign.

a "Thankfully, this is not the view of the majority of Scottish people, and I am sure one politician will not damage relations between Scotland and China."

Inot him.

Scottish Highlands and Islands and Moray Chinese Association chairwoman Monica Lee-Macpherson said: "If someone invites you to your house, you don't speak negatively about them afterwards.

should "It's not on. This person should be reprimanded. "It is so wrong that someone went on an all-expenses trip and then made this comment."

Labour's Warrington South MP, Faisal Rashid, who also went on the all-party group, said: "I am surprised as throughout the APPG tour I did not find anything about Hugh which relates to his comments.

"Hugh has always come across as friendly and straightforward."

Gaffney's comments were met with dismay in Labour circles when they came to light.

Sonny Leong, chairman of Chinese for Labour, said on Thursday that Gaffney's comment was "deeply offensive" and that there was "no excuse" for it.

Shamed MSP is Marked absent

Mark Aitken

Shamed MSP Mark McDonald has been urged to return to Holyrood or quit his seat after three months' absence.

The former childcare minister hasn't been seen in parliament since resigning from the Cabinet in November after an allegation of inappropriate behaviour.

Aberdeen Donside MSP McDonald, who pockets a PS61,778 salary, could have sat as an independent after being suspended by the SNP.

But he has failed to turn up, missing key votes such as the Budget.

Scottish Tory deputy chief whip Alexander Burnett said: "It's been three months since he was in parliament.

"He and the SNP have dragged this on for far too long. Either he comes back in the next week or he should resign and let someone else represent the people of Aberdeen Donside."

Labour MSP Rhoda Grant said: "The Mark McDonald situation is getting ridiculous. He disappeared in a cloak of secrecy and has been missing for three months now.

"Serious questions need to be asked about how the SNP handled this situation. It cannot be right that the people of Aberdeen Donside have an AWOL MSP."

Lib Dem MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton said: "Mark McDonald has let down his constituents in the north-east, who have been without an MSP for months. He owes his constituents an explanation."

Married dad-of-two McDonald quit as a minister after a woman complained to his party about a lewd text message.

Two weeks after his resignation, the SNP suspended him from the party and ordered an investigation after receiving new information about his behaviour.

McDonald replaced his Twitter profile picture with a sinister shadow figure lurking beside a privet hedge. He replaced it with a blank space after the Sunday Mail drew it to the attention of SNP officials.

On Friday, McDonald, wearing a hoodie and jeans and clutching a bottle of Irn-Bru, was seen going into his constituency office. However, he did not return calls to himself and his staff.

An SNP spokesman said: "An investigation is ongoing."


NOT DINOSAURS: PAGE 16 urs: page

trust him he should " to r y China As a Chinese person, I would not trust him. He should resign


TALKS Gaffney, second left, was part of the all-party group to visit China last year

BRIDGING THE GAP All-party group trip was intended to help bilateral relationship

support Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, pictured with Gaffney at a rally in Coatbridge last year. The disgraced MP has apologised for comments

SHAMEFUL . Gaffney makes Burns night speech. Right, on China visit

cloak of secrecy McDonald. Right, our story
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Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Feb 11, 2018
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