Aberdeen councillor faces potential suspension amid racism allegations

Councillors Kairin van Sweeden and Deena Tissera

AN ABERDEEN councillor has reported herself to the Standards Commission after alleged racism during a council meeting.

Cllr Kairin van Sweeden, who represents Tillydrone/Seaton/Old Aberdeen, also apologised for her remarks to Labour’s Deena Tissera.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

Why? Free to subscribe, no paywall, daily business news digest.

In a heated meeting, Cllr van Sweeden said: “I realise as a new Scot, councillor Tissera maybe doesn’t know about the mitigations that the SNP government has had to put in over the years.

“For example, the bedroom tax. Maybe you’re not aware of the bedroom tax, but that started a long time ago.”

The SNP councillor was then shouted down by Aberdeen Labour leader M Tauqeer Malik, before Cllr Tissera, who was visibly emotional, said: “I would like to be respected and I do not appreciate those comments.

“I have taken the life in the UK test to become a citizen and I probably know more than you do.”

Lord Provost David Cameron tried to calm the situation down, before calling for a adjournment.

Following the adjournment, and following legal advice, Cllr van Sweeden apologised.

“I would like to apologise to Councillor Tissera unreservedly if anything I said to you has caused personal offensive in any way.

“I hope you can accept my apology.”

In response, Cllr Tissera, who was born in Sri Lanka, said: “What you have made me feel today is that I’m an outsider.

“You assume that I don’t know the history of this country because I’m not from here.

“I am absolutely hurt by the words that you have said. I am British citizen, I am not a second-class citizen.

“I am citizen of this country and I would like you, and anyone in this chamber, to respect people and treat them equally.”

Cllr van Sweeden’s language his since been condemned by Humza Yousaf who, in an interview with the Press and Journal, said: “I have to say as somebody who has been on the receiving end of unacceptable comments, that kind of language is just not acceptable.

“In fact, I want to apologise to Cllr Tissera on behalf of the party because that should not have happened.

“She should not have been subjected to that language.”

Cllr van Sweeden has now handed her SNP membership in.

A party statement reads: “Councillor van Sweeden has taken the decision to refer herself to the Standards Commission.

“And she has requested the SNP National Secretary investigate comments she made during yesterday’s council meeting, which she immediately and unreservedly apologised for.

“Whilst those processes are underway, she has stepped back from her SNP party membership.”

The latest stories

Dons heroes bring festive cheer to young patients at children’s hospital
wagamama reopens new Aberdeen restaurant
City Council Budget Consultation results published
Pub on Aberdeens oldest street on market for first time in 30 years