ANAS Sarwar is facing fresh questions over his commitment to the living wage.

The Scottish Labour leadership candidate failed to register as an accredited living wage employer for more than a year after being elected to Holyrood, the Herald can reveal.

The millionaire Glasgow MSP only did so after entering the Labour leadership race.

While his left-wing rival Richard Leonard registered in late 2016, Mr Sarwar was accredited as a living wage employer just two weeks ago.

The application process coincided with Mr Sarwar coming under pressure over pay rates at the Sarwar family cash and carry business, United Wholesale (Scotland) Ltd.

The firm was advertising jobs at around £1 an hour less than the living wage of £8.45 promoted by Scottish Labour.

Mr Sarwar later transferred his 23 per cent stake in the firm, worth around £4.8m, to a trust for his three children in a bid to draw a line under the controversy.

Both Mr Sarwar and Mr Leonard insist they have always paid their Holyrood staff the living wage.

However Mr Sarwar’s failure to register as an accredited employer has raised questions about the importance of the issue to him, and hence his credentials for the leadership.

In 2015, Scottish Labour issued a paper on achieving female equality which said the party would “develop a strategy with the living wage accreditation scheme” to address low pay.

The next year, then Scottish leader Kezia Dugdale backed expanding the scheme.

Scottish Labour also boasted of its support for living wage accreditation during this year’s council elections, when its manifesto stated: “Labour councils across Scotland are leading the way as Living Wage employers - making up three quarters of those accredited by the Living Wage Foundation - ensuring their staff are paid more than £8.45 an hour.”

Just under two-thirds of MSPs are accredited living wage employers.

Mr Leonard, who was elected a Central Scotland list MSP in May 2016, applied for accreditation in October that year and was granted it on November 2.

Despite being elected a Glasgow list MSP at the same time, Mr Sarwar did not apply for accreditation until last month, and was granted it in the first week of October.

His application was made after the Labour leadership race began with Ms Dugdale quitting on August 29.

Mr Sarwar’s campaign team was last night unable to say whether he applied for accreditation before or over the row over UWS pay rates erupted on September 10.

SNP MP James Dornan said: “It’s good to see Anas Sarwar finally join the long-list of Living Wage accredited MSPs.

"But his hypocrisy has been exposed, and it would have been welcome if he’d embraced the real Living Wage early for his family firm.”

A spokesperson for Mr Leonard said: “Richard Leonard applied for accreditation as a living wage employer in October 2016 and was verified on 2nd November 2016.

“Richard pays his staff at least the real living wage and has done so since they were employed in Sept/Oct 2016.”

A spokesman for Mr Sarwar said: "Anas pays all his employees more than the real living wage and has done so since being elected to the Scottish Parliament in 2016.

“He believes it should be mandatory for all employers and has put forward further radical policies such as a Scottish Child Tax Credit to lift 50,000 children out of poverty."