SUSPENDED Labour councillor Davie McLachlan has denied telling Anas Sarwar that Scotland “wouldn’t vote for a brown Muslim Paki”.

The senior South Lanarkshire councillor was suspended on Tuesday night, as the party launched an investigation into the remarks.

McLachlan effectively accused the MSP of making it up, saying he believed the allegation was because he switched from backing Sarwar to supporting Richard Leonard in the Scottish Labour leadership race last year.

In a statement released yesterday, he said: “I categorically deny these deeply hurtful allegations.

“I’m stunned and dismayed at the claims that I would say such things, and I will defend myself robustly in the party’s investigation and in any actions that follow.

“Early in the campaign I pledged my support to Anas but later decided to support Mr Leonard. Anas will know this and would understandably be disappointed.”

Sarwar did not initially name the councillor when he told a daily newspaper about the Islamophobic abuse he had received during the leadership campaign.

Speaking yesterday on BBC Scotland’s Kaye Adams Programme, he said: “In 1997 I was assaulted because of the colour of my skin.

“In the early 2000s when I was out with my friends on a Saturday night in Glasgow, glass bottles were thrown at me because of the colour of our skin.

“That is happening less and that is to be welcomed, we have seen a difference in terms of tolerance and understanding in our communities.

“What my fear is is it now becoming a much more insidious and much more institutionalised form of everyday racism and Islamophobia, and that needs to be challenged.”

McLachlan was forced to resign from Strathclyde Partnership for Transport in 2010, after claiming thousands in expenses, including a trip to Manchester on the day Rangers played in the 2008 Uefa Cup Final.