A LABOUR council leader was urged to resign last night after nearly a third of his own party voted with the SNP to push through a vote of no confidence in him.

The move to ditch West Dunbartonshire Council leader Andrew White follows a special meeting to discuss an employment tribunal which heavily criticised Mr White over events leading to the dismissal of Ian Leitch, former deputy chief executive, who was awarded #54,000 for unfair dismissal.

Four out of 14 Labour councillors switched sides to vote with the SNP, which resulted in a 12-10 vote.

Last night, however, a Labour spokesman said there had been a great deal of confusion in the council chamber. ''The motion only recommends a vote of no confidence,'' he said. However, Ronnie McColl, SNP group leader, was in no doubt.

He said: ''The successful vote of no confidence spells out that the positions of Mr White and Councillor Jim McCallum are now untenable. They no longer hold the support of the council and should resign with immediate effect.''

He said the dismissal of Ian Leitch had rumbled on for more than three years.

''In this time, we have had claim and counter-claim. Throughout the affair, the SNP's position never changed. We continually asked for a totally independent investigation into the affair.''

The Glasgow tribunal accepted a desire to get rid of the #73,000-a-year senior council official was the principal reason for a top management shake-up at the council and referred to the disastrous relationship between Mr Leitch, 52, and Mr White, and James McCallum, secretary.

It said Mr White had made up his mind he could not work with Mr Leitch. It accepted the desire to get rid of Mr Leitch was the principal reason for a council reorganisation and the actings of the council were plainly consistent with a desire to get rid of him.

After failing to get two top jobs in the new structure, Mr Leitch said he was given a ''resign or be sacked'' ultimatum and was not even allowed to work his notice. The tribunal concluded this amounted to a dismissal.

It added: ''We appreciate the seriousness of our finding, but the naked hostility towards the applicant, the manner in which the applications by the applicant for employment with the respondents were dealt with, the willingness of the said McCallum to adopt underhand methods, the complete failure on the part of the respondents to explain why they took certain crucial decisions persuade us that the said McCallum and White acted from an improper motive.''

Last night Mr White said of the vote: ''This result is disappointing. It has nothing to do with the running of the council and everything to do with the SNP playing politics.

''It is especially disappointing that a small number of Labour councillors colluded with the SNP to bring to pass this motion. The action of this small group is now a matter for the Labour Party.''