IAN Bankier, the Celtic chairman, has condemned the “criminally racist abuse” of Lord Livingston, the non-executive director, during heated exchanges at the Glasgow club’s AGM.

The Celtic board’s appeal to shareholders to vote against a resolution calling for the Parkhead club to take steps towards becoming an accredited living wage employer was also branded “shameful”.

An online petition demanding Livingston be removed from his position was launched last month after the former BT chief executive voted in favour of cutting tax credits in the House of Lords.

However, Bankier, who was heckled when he expressed his personal disappointment the vote on the Glasgow-born businessman’s re-election had gone to a poll, hit out at the “highly personal campaign” against the Conservative peer.

He said: “The thing that we claim differentiates us from any other club is that we are inclusive. We welcome and include into Celtic everyone no matter what their race, their religion, their social standing or the politics might be.

“This highly-personal campaign directed at Ian Livingston, who is a lifelong Celtic fan as was his father before him, is the diametric opposite of everything I believe Celtic stands for and cherishes.

“Ian has been subjected to a torrent of utterly base personal abuse conducted over social media in recent weeks. The messages posted in quite a few cases are criminally racist and in all cases the vocabulary chosen is base and highly abusive. What sickens me to the core is that the campaign is conducted in the name of Brother Walfrid.”

Bankier added: “Ian Livingston is a consummately-able business executive and we are grateful that he is prepared to devote his time and considerable talents to the affairs of this club. The fact that he also happens to be a member of the House of Lords creates no conflict of interest with the business of Celtic.

“Our fans come from every quarter of society and share the common bond of supporting the team. We are not a conduit for political statements and campaigns. No fan or section of fans have the right to set up a stall that proclaims political intolerance in the name of what they invariably cite as ‘their club’.

“Our club is not available to anyone for that purpose. I condemn this activity and I appeal to you to see it for what it is because intolerance soon leads to hatred and hatred leads to a lot worse as we well know.”

Bankier denied misleading shareholders at the Celtic AGM last year over the subject of the living wage and defended the board’s ongoing stance on the issue.

He said: “Last year we said we would review the wage levels of all permanent employees and we did. We said that we would put everyone in our permanent staff onto an hourly wage of at least £7.85 and we did.

“It is not in the interests of Celtic to sign up to the living wage because the living wage council is a non-statutory body. It is a complex area and it is for government to balance out all the factors.

“It is important to us that we can run the business and the club for the benefit of all the shareholders and it is just not in the interest of the shareholders to have wage policy, an important part of our cost base, directed by a non-statutory body.”

However, shareholder John Gallacher said: “The Scottish government has set targets for employers in Scotland to become living wage employers. There’s not a week goes by without companies, big and small, in Scotland signing up to the Living Wage Charter.

“It is shameful that the board of a club like Celtic Football Club are not recommending acceptance of this resolution.”

Celtic later confirmed on their official website that Livingston had been re-appointed after receiving 99.46 per cent of the votes cast.

The resolution calling for Celtic to take steps towards becoming a living wage employer was defeated with 96.99 per cent of shareholders voting against it.

Bankier later denied he had branded Celtic supporters racist and claimed his comments had been “wildly exaggerated” and “taken out of context”  in a story published on the official Celtic website.

He said: “It is outrageous to suggest that I would ever do that. I was only referring to a small number of specific comments which have been made on social media, which I believe are unacceptable. I know Celtic supporters, the lifeblood of the club, would agree with me.”