A ROW has broken out over a shop linked to a prominent Scottish Labour politician selling a comic book widely condemned as racist. 

Paper Tiger in Edinburgh – which was previously run by Daniel Johnson MSP, who still owns the trademark – stocks Tintin in the Congo, which has been the focus of a number of controversies in recent years.

The second volume of The Adventures of Tintin by the cartoonist Hergé, it tells the story of how the young Belgian reporter unearths a diamond smuggling operation.

However its racist portrayal of the Congolese has led to attempts to ban the book or restrict its publication.

Mr Johnson, who is Scottish Labour’s justice spokesman, was previously managing director of the Paper Tiger and Studio One group of shops, which sell stationery, gifts and furniture.

He sold to his business partner Michael Apter on his election as an MSP, but still owns the trademark and name of the Paper Tiger business.

An SNP spokesman said it seemed “remarkable that a retailer would be promoting such a publication in this day and age – one which perpetuates deeply offensive racial and colonial prejudices”.

He added: “It's all the more troubling given it's a comic book geared towards a young audience, being sold in a shop connected to a prominent Labour politician.

“Given Daniel Johnson has been forthright in condemning racism in the past, we trust he will now take swift action to address the matter.”

When The Herald visited Paper Tiger, a postcard of Tintin in the Congo’s front cover – featuring a racist stereotype – was being sold beside the shop’s till.

However a collector’s edition of the book itself was kept away from the shelves and sold for £10.99 in a sealed plastic wrapper on request. Posters of its cover were also for sale on the Paper Tiger website.

Published in 1931, Tintin in the Congo has been repeatedly criticised for its racist content, although some commentators have defended it as a product of its time.

In 2007, the Commission for Racial Equality called for the book to be banned, arguing it contained "words of hideous racial prejudice, where the 'savage natives' look like monkeys and talk like imbeciles".

Mr Johnson said he no longer has “any ownership or control of the Paper Tiger business, having sold out to my business partner over a year and a half ago”.

He added: “My involvement is limited to licensing the trademark and name and I have no input into the management or product lines of the business. If I did, this book is clearly not something I would stock.”

He is the sole director of Stripe Retail Ltd, which owns the trademark and name of Paper Tiger. His register of interests says his shares have a market value of £171,292.

Mr Apter said he would be happy to discuss the issue with anyone offended by the book, which has now been removed from sale.

He said: “We are a Tintin specialist collectors store and carry the entire Hergé catalogue; the historic context in which this book was written have been widely discussed within the fan community. In the interim we removed the book from sale in the shop.”