LABOUR’s shadow Scottish secretary Ian Murray has embarrassed his colleagues north of the Border after working closely with an aide from a think tank which Anas Sarwar previously tried to claim had no influence.

As was first reported by The Herald, Murray’s register of interests shows that he has accepted a donation from Labour Together in the form of a “secondee … to support me in my front bench role as shadow secretary of state for Scotland”.

According to the register, the secondee is from Labour Together and will work with Murray from March 4 to March 31, which is ascribed a value of £3088.62.

However, in February, Scottish Labour group leader Sarwar had attempted to claim that the think tank was irrelevant to his party.

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It came after their director, Josh Simons, suggested that smuggler gangs should be put on a barge and sent to Scotland.

Amid significant backlash to the comments, Sarwar said: “My first reaction is ‘who?’. Every party has elements on the fringes that give them moments of cringe.”

Speaking to the Daily Record, he went on: “[Simons] doesn’t represent the Labour party’s view. He doesn’t represent the Labour party and it’s actually quite a serious issue he trivialised.

“I think people that are making stupid, flippant comments like that are best ignored.”

At the time, SNP figures pointed out that the Labour Together think tank which Simons leads is far from the “fringes” of UK Labour.

Labour Together’s website says it was founded by a group of MPs fighting “to make Labour electable again”. These include shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves and shadow health secretary Wes Streeting among other members of Keir Starmer’s frontbench.

And now, Murray appears to have undermined Sarwar – his nominal leader – and proven that Labour Together do have close influence over the UK party frontbench.

A Scottish Labour spokesperson refused to be drawn, saying only: “We do not comment on staffing matters.”

Simons was eventually forced to apologise for his comments, writing on social media: “Following my comments on LBC last night, I apologise for any negative insinuation about Scotland.

“I’m half Scottish, I love the country and it is where much of my family comes from. It was a poorly judged comment made in jest and doesn’t reflect my views, or the views of the Labour Party.”