THE alleged car conversation at the centre of a £100,000 defamation case did not take place, a serving SNP councillor has told a court.

Steven Bonnar said nothing racist was said during the car journey in 2015 when Julie McAnulty is alleged to have used the word “P***s”.

Ms McAnulty, an SNP councillor in North Lanarkshire from 2012 to 2017, is suing her accuser, SNP activist Sheena McCulloch.

Ms McCulloch’s is defending the action at the Court of Session on the basis of accuracy, qualified privilege and fair comment.

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The court has heard Ms McCulloch and Ms McAnulty were on opposite sides of a bitter faction fight in the local SNP, in which rival groups were vying for dominance.

Ms McCulloch complained to SNP HQ on 5 February 2016 that Ms McAnulty used the racist term on the way back from a canvassing session the previous year.

Ms McCulloch, who works for Uddingston MSP Richard Lyle, also claimed in her email that Ms McAnulty said she wanted Asian troublemakers out of the party, and that Ms McCulloch had told her the comments were unacceptable and stopped talking to her in the car.

The complaint was passed to the press and Ms McAnulty featured in a front page story in the Daily Record on 8 February, and was suspended from the SNP that day.

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On the second day of the proof before Lord Uist, Mr Bonnar said he was in the car to and from the canvassing, and Ms McAnulty did not make the alleged comment.

He said 20 June 2015 had been a significant day for him, as it was the first Saturday of his first political campaign, a byelection which resulted in his election in North Lanarkshire.

He said he travelled in the back seat of Ms McCulloch’s car, while McAnulty sat in the front, and described the atmosphere as “jovial”, with talk about the day’s campaigning.

He said that apart from four to six minutes when he was alone with a voter, he had been with Ms McAnulty and Ms McCulloch when they were together.

Asked by Kenny McBrearty QC, for Ms McAnulty, whether Ms McAnulty had made any racist comments, he said: “No.” Asked if McCulloch reprimanded Ms McAnulty, he said: “No.”

Asked his view of racism, Mr Bonnar, 36, said “I abhor racism in all its forms” and said that if Mr McAnulty had made any racist remarks he would have been “outraged”.

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He said he had been “flabbergasted” when he first learned of Ms McCulloch’s complaint when he read the Record article the following February.

“This was really nasty stuff. It must be a horrible thing to be accused of. I was shocked.”

He insisted he had been in Ms McCulloch’s car, rather than another one, and rejected the suggestion that he was being untruthful in order to support Ms McAnulty.

He said: “It’s simply not true. I am an honest man.”

Questioned by Roddy Dunlop QC, for Ms McCulloch, Mr Bonnar denied Ms McCulloch’s back seat had been too full of canvassing material for him to use it.

Mr Dunlop suggested Mr Bonnar had not been in the car when the racist remark was made.

Mr Bonnar said he could not speak to what happened when he was not in the vehicle.

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Asked why hadn’t contacted SNP HQ to flag his presence when he saw the Record article, Mr Bonnar said: “I sat it out. I done nothing.”

However he said he later been asked to speak to Stewart Dredge, a former private investigator tasked by SNP with examining the matter.

Earlier, Ms McAnulty had also denied making any racist remarks in the car.

Asked if she said the “P**s” comment, Mr McAnulty said: “I did not say that”.

She said “P***s” was a “word for an older generation”, adding: “It’s not a word in my vocabulary.”

She agreed she disliked former SNP councillor Dr Imtiaz Majid “intensely” and wanted him to leave the local party.

However she said her feeling were based on his conduct, not the colour of their skin.

She also denied making a racist remark at an SNP meeting in March 2012, when she complained Dr Majid appeared to be orchestrating votes.

She asked Mr Dunlop why, if she had made a racist remark, it had not been minuted and not resulted in any complaints to party HQ or disciplinary action.

“What do you think would have happened if I had made a comment like that in front of witnesses, many of them hostile to me?” she said.

School teacher William Layden, 60, also denied Ms McAnulty made a racist remark at the 2012 meeting, and said her objection was to Dr Majid’s conduct.

He said: “There was nothing about ethnicity or race, it was purely about group control.”