RICHARD Leonard has been slammed for “dithering” over an Islamophobia row in the Labour Party.

Dumfries and Galloway councillor Jim Dempster was suspended in March last year after comments he made about Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf. Dempster said that in Yousaf was to visit his constituency, “no-one would have seen him under his burka”.

Despite complaining about the councillor, the SNP politician says he has had still not been contacted by Labour.

Yousaf called on Leonard to expel the councillor.

Speaking on the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme, the Labour chief said the matter was being investigated by the party’s National Constitutional Committee.

He said: “I recognise the frustration. I’m not directly involved in processing complaints about members.”

Asked whether he should be involved in the complaints process, Leonard said: “I don’t think I should be.

“I think that it’s right there is a separation between the political leadership of the party and political representatives of the party and those people who are directly elected to carry out those investigations.”

READ MORE: Humza Yousaf 'given up' on Islamophobia complaint to Labour Party​

Leonard also said he did not know why the investigation was taking so long.

He said: “I’m surprised that he hasn’t heard anything from the Labour Party, but I’ve got no reason to doubt Humza Yousaf if that’s what he says the position is.

“There ought to be a more streamlined process, it ought to have been dealt with more quickly.

“In my view, it is entirely unsatisfactory.”

Yousaf said it was time for the Scottish Labour leader to take action.

“This case has dragged on for far too long and now needs urgent attention,” he said.

“More than 20 months on from the incident we are no further forward. Richard Leonard should be deeply ashamed.

“Jim Dempster should have been booted out of the Labour Party the moment he admitted making these bigoted remarks.

“But instead the Labour leader continues to dither on the matter, citing internal processes as an excuse for his complete lack of leadership.”

He added: “The Labour Party can’t continue to turn a blind eye to outright racism from its own elected representatives.

“If Richard Leonard wants to be seen as anything approaching a credible politician then it’s time he faced up to this issue and took action to expel this Islamophobic councillor for good.”

During the interview, Leonard insisted that there was no mandate for a second independence referendum.

READ MORE: Leonard vows to remove need for independence to win Yes voters

“We know that at the moment there is not a mandate, despite the claims of the SNP,” he said.

“A mandate I think would need to be achieved through the election of parties into a majority that had a clear mandate to hold a second independence referendum.

“But as the leader of the Scottish Labour Party, I am determined that that will not happen because for example, in the 2021 Scottish Parliament elections, I will be leading the Labour Party to win those elections.”

He added: “If the SNP or other parties put in their manifesto that they wanted to hold a second independence referendum and they got a mandate for that, either 2021, 2026 or at some future point, then of course what we’re saying is that that would not be blocked by a UK Labour Westminster government.”