The leader of Dundee City Council says he has “every confidence” in an SNP councillor who became embroiled in a spat with a Church of Scotland minister.
The fall-out involving the council’s children and families services convener, Gregor Murray, began last Friday during the first day of Tayview Primary School’s new term.
The school’s chaplain, the Reverend Robert (Bob) Mallinson, claimed he was concerned about safety because there was no crossing system in place and no crossing patroller.
A heated debate apparently ensued in the school’s playground between Mr Mallinson and the councillor.
The convener allegedly dismissed Mr Mallinson as a “liar” during the exchange, leading to an official complaint by the minister over what he believed to be “unacceptable behaviour”.
Mr Mallinson is now subject to a claim of “verbal abuse” lodged by Gregor Murray’s SNP colleague Councillor Stewart Hunter in an official complaint made to the Church of Scotland.
Amid the fall-out, the leader of Dundee Labour group, Kevin Keenan, criticised the council, claiming the spat had become “ridiculous” and reflected poorly on the administration.
Now the council’s leader, John Alexander, has stepped in stating he has “every confidence” in his convener.
He said: “I have not had sight of any complaint from the Rev Mallison and have not been contacted directly so I am only aware of what has been said in the local press, which is unfortunate. Councillor Keenan was not present at the event and is merely commenting on a story he has read, without giving any due thought or consideration as to investigating the complaint.
“That said, I take every complaint seriously and this is no different. I believe that there is certainly two sides to any story and I have discussed the nature of the alleged argument with a number of individuals who were present at the event.
“I have every confidence in Councillor Murray’s ability to carry out the role of supporting our young people and further education in the city, and I have found nothing to suggest that Gregor was anything other than calm during the alleged incident.
“I would say that I am disappointed that this has been relayed to the press rather than myself or the independent Standards Commission. An opportunity to discuss and address any issues would have been preferable, fair and reasonable. I would certainly like to meet with the Rev. Mallison should he wish to discuss the opening of Tayview or any other matter.”
Ian Morrison, chairman of the school’s Parent Council and a witness to the altercation, said he was “100%” behind the reverend’s version of events.
Reverend Mallinson denies the accusations while Gregor Murray said it is “up to the leader of the administration to decide what to do.”
The spat comes shortly after the SNP representative, who is also the party’s equality spokesperson, branded a women’s group “absolute roasters” last month on Twitter.