By a Newsnet reporter
A Labour MSP has been criticised after he accused an SNP councillor of using a family funeral in order to avoid an official meeting with the Dalai Lama.
Ken Macintosh, the Labour MSP for Eastwood, attacked what he called “suspect behaviour” after the Dundee Lord Provost, Bob Duncan, was forced to pull out of a planned meeting with the spiritual leader in order to attend a family funeral.
Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland’s ‘Brian Taylor’s Big Debate’ the Labour MSP attacked the SNP who he claimed had been pressurised by the Chinese Government into downgrading the visit from the Tibetan Buddhist leader.
Speaking, Mr Macintosh said: “In this case what looks to have happened is that pressure has been put on the SNP to withdraw.”
Asked what evidence he had to back his claims, Mr Macintosh said that the SNP run council had asked that a council logo be removed from an event brochure. The Labour MSP then angered many in the audience when commenting on the family funeral explanation he said:
“It depends on whether or not you think these are … genuine reasons or whether these are excuses for some suspect behaviour.”
The accusation brought an angry reaction from fellow panellist member, Stewart Maxwell who called the comments “disgraceful”.
Mr Maxwell, an SNP MSP for the West of Scotland, pointed out that the local SNP MSP Joe Fitpatrick was meeting with the Dalai Lama as were several other high profile SNP MSPs including Linda Fabiani and the Scottish Parliament's Presiding Officer, SNP MSP Tricia Marwick, who was holding an official reception for the Buddhist leader.
Mr Maxwell added: “To cast aspersions on the Lord Provost of Dundee who is having to attend a family funeral today and who has said he will come from the family funeral and meet with the Dalai Lama at the reception afterwards I think is absolutely disgraceful.”
Mr Macintosh has since denied making the remarks, saying claims he accused the Dundee Provost of using the funeral as an “excuse” were untrue. Responding to fellow panellist, Jackson Carlaw – Mr Macintosh labelled the Conservative MSP an “SNP apologist” after both men exchanged tweets.
The Dalai Lama will travel to Inverness and Edinburgh as part of his tour. In Edinburgh, run by an SNP/Labour coalition, he will visit the National Library to view literature on Tibet.
On Saturday, Highland council which is run by an SNP led coalition, will fund a visit to Inverness Eden Court where a reception will be held.
A spokesman for the council said: ''The council is supporting the visit and the leader Drew Hendry and convener Jimmy Gray will greet him on his arrival at Eden Court Theatre, Inverness at lunch time on Saturday."