ANAS Sarwar has failed to deny he is a “humbug and hypocrite” for privately educating his children despite his party's manifesto saying fee-paying schools exacerbate social injustice.

The Scottish Labour leader, who sends his sons to his alma mater Hutchesons' Grammar in Glasgow, admitted the accusation of double-standards was “fair criticism”.

Asked what damage he saw private schools doing to society, the MSP, who is standing against First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in the Glasgow southside constituency on May 6, said: “Look, I want everyone to have a quality education across the country.

“I accept the criticism, but that was a decision my wife and I made for what was best for our children.

"But I want every parent to have the best for their children, and that’s why I want us to invest in our education comeback scheme.”

Asked if he accepted the criticism “that you’re a humbug, that you’re a hypocrite”, he said: “You can call me whatever you like. I’ve been called worse than that.”

Pressed on whether he thought it was an accurate criticism that he was practising one thing and preaching another, Sarwar said: “As I’ve made clear before, I accept it’s a fair criticism. I’ve been open and honest about this.

"There are different forms of inequality and prejudice that my children will face that other children won’t face.

“That still means I accept the criticism around the choice that I’ve made for my children’s own education.”

Hutchesons currently charges annual fees of between £9812 and £12,649 per pupil.

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The Scottish Labour manifesto, published today, advocates an end to “all public sector support for fee-paying private schools”, including ending their charitable status for rates relief.

It said that would be a “contribution towards achieving a more socially just and inclusive society”.

Sarwar was asked when he first realised private schools were an obstacle to a more socially just and inclusive society, and why he was perpetuating the system regardless.

He replied: “I have support this policy ever since Kez Dugdale was leader and it was first proposed in our manifesto, and I proudly support it now.

“I’m open about the fair question and the fair criticism that people make around the decision that my wife and I made for our children.

“Every parent wants to do what’s best for their children, but I want every child to have opportunity.

"That’s why we’ve put our education comeback plan at the heard of this manifesto. That’s why we’re talking about an individual assessment for every pupil.

“We’re talking about not just an educational assessment but also a mental health assessment, backing that up with more ASN teachers and teachers in our schools.

“Backing it up with a summer comeback pass, backing it up with one-to-one tutoring for those children who need it, backing it up with a resit guarantee for young people so we don’t have a lost generation coming through this pandemic.

“These are things are right for us to do if we are to make sure we invest in education and come through this with more opportunity for young people across the country.”

Sarwar’s family’s wealth and his decision to send his children to private schools were a key issue in the 2017 leadership contest against Richard Leonard. Sarwar was defeated in that race, but became Scottish Labour leader in February this year when he beat fellow MSP Monica Lennon.