SCOTLAND'S youngest council leader was officially toppled from power last night after four rebel councillors who resigned from the Labour party voted with the SNP/Scottish Socialist opposition at a special council meeting to elect a new leader.

Councillor Andy White, deposed leader of West Dunbartonshire Council, who is in his early 30s, was defeated 12-10 by Councillor Danny McCafferty, one of the four rebels.

Another of the rebels, Councillor Mary Collins, was voted in as deputy leader of the council at the meeting, held before a packed public gallery at the local authority's headquarters in Dumbarton. She replaces Councillor John Trainer.

The result was preceded by a bitter debate during which some of the Labour group members were cautioned by Alister McDonald, the lord provost, for their persistent personal attacks on Mr McCafferty.

The rebels have been at loggerheads with Mr White since an employment tribunal found that Ian Leitch, a former deputy chief executive of the council, had been constructively dismissed after a long-running period of conflict with the council leader.

Earlier this month, the rebels, led by Mr McCafferty, used a procedural device to oust Mr White. By resigning from the Labour party they effectively wiped out Mr White's Labour group majority on the council and he automatically fell.

Earlier this year, the four rebel Labour councillors on the 22-strong council supported a motion by opposition councillors which expressed no confidence in Mr White's leadership.

The motion was carried by 12 votes to 10, but Mr White refused to stand down.