ANAS Sarwar is facing questions over a favouritism row involving his spin doctor’s wife.

The Scottish Labour leader is being urged to explain if Lilith Johnstone is getting special treatment in her £20,000-a-year second job as a Glasgow councillor.

Ms Johnstone, a full-time teacher who is married to Scottish Labour’s head of media and digital Oliver Milne, has the lightest workload on paper of any of Glasgow’s 85 councillors.

Her spoken contributions in her first year at the City Chambers totalled five minutes.

She is the only councillor of any party not to sit on a committee other than the two on which she sits automatically - the full council and her local area partnership.

The average Labour councillor in the city sits on three additional committees, the average SNP councillor sits on four more, and the average Green councillor sits on five extra.

In her first year as a councillor for the Patrick East/Kelvindale ward, Ms Johnstone failed to attend any of the five area partnership meetings, even though four were online.

She also missed two of the eight full council meetings, and other than asking a brief question and supplementary in September, spoke at only two of the six she did attend. 

Other than her maiden speech in December and replying to roll call votes, her only other spoken chamber contribution was 30 seconds of praise for her fellow teachers in March. 

She sits on no outside bodies and is one of only nine councillors not to hold regular surgeries, asking people to get in touch by phone or email. 

The Scottish Tories described her as an "AWOL councillor".

READ MORE: Candidates keep finances of SNP leadership race a secret

According to her council register of interests, Ms Johnstone works as an English teacher in a secondary school in neighbouring East Renfrewshire Council.

Under “close family members”, she adds: “Partner is employed by a political party which has occasional interactions with Glasgow City Council.”

There are now questions about whether Ms Johnstone’s workload has been minimised because of her connections with the party hierarchy.

Many other councillors have jobs but attend more council business than Ms Johnstone, including two in her ward - Green Blair Anderson works for MSP Ross Greer in Holyrood, while Labour’s Jill Brown heads an in-house legal team for a major bank. 

Ms Johnstone effectively stood as a paper candidate at the local elections last year, in a ward where Labour took just one of the four seats at the previous election in 2017.

She won just 358 first preference votes - the other winners got between 1800 and 2939 first preferences - then scraped in after nine rounds of transfer votes were allocated.

As an experienced teacher, Ms Johnstone, a member of the EIS teaching union, would be entitled to a salary of up to £47,500. 

Her basic councillor’s remuneration was £19,571 last year and will be £20,099 this year.

Over a five-year electoral cycle, her pay as a councillor would therefore top £100,000.

Glasgow is currently run by an SNP minority with 37 seats, supported by ten Greens.

Labour are just one seat behind the SNP, with 36 councillors, and are desperate to get control of the authority at some point in the current session.

If Ms Johnstone stood down and Labour lost the ensuing byelection, it would be much harder for the party to do so.

Council sources said some of Ms Johnstone’s colleagues felt she had failed to take on more work as she got used to the job, yet suffered no consequences. 

One said: “It appears to be someone not bothering to put themselves forward for anything, and being given the nod from their group leadership to be like that.

“Local government is full of people with second jobs who spend evenings and weekends catching up with committee work and have arrangements with their employers.

“I’m sure those who make the effort for their constituents and communities will ask why others appear to have licence to do the minimum.”

A Labour source dismissed the claim as “sour grapes” and said any suggestion that Cllr Johnstone got special treatment because of her marriage was offensive and inaccurate.

They also said she attended local community councils as well as her city council work.

Glasgow Tory MSP Annie Wells said: “It looks like this AWOL councillor is seriously short-changing her constituents. People in Partick East and Kelvindale need and deserve a councillor who’s willing and able to devote the time necessary to properly represent them.

“This is embarrassing for Anas Sarwar, as it appears that Labour were so short of committed council candidates in Glasgow that they had to persuade his spin doctor’s partner to reluctantly make up the numbers.”

READ MORE: Scots rail safety fears over £166m 'cuts' and Stonehaven crash 'fails'

Frank McAveety, Labour’s business manager on Glasgow City Council, denied there had been pressure from the national leadership to give Ms Johnstone an easy ride.

He told the Sunday Herald: “Lilith has met her commitments in terms of her attendance at the Labour group, and also at the full council and the committees that she’s been asked to play a role in. I don’t see why anyone would want to be briefing otherwise.

“Everything is under constant review. But in terms of the commitments that my colleague has been making, she’s made the ones that were expected of her.

“She stood up to be a candidate at the very last minute, so obviously she has to try and find some arrangements with her employer, and sometimes that’s difficult.

“In the first year, we’re trying to manage that, but it’s always under review. Nobody’s contacted me from Anas’s office to say, ‘Give her an easy load’. I can assure you of that.”

Cllr Jill Brown, Ms Johnstone's fellow Labour ward member, added: "It really saddens me that someone who clearly has no idea of the huge amount of work that Lilith does feels entitled to pass comment.  

"Lilith is a very hard working councillor and if you ask people in our community, if you check to see which councillors support community councils in our ward, Lilith will be at the front of their mind.

"These misogynistic comments are utterly ill informed and unfair. People in Glasgow rate councillors based on who gets things done and that is why I am immensely proud to work along side Lilith in supporting the people in our ward and Glasgow more generally.

"As two women councillors working together for the good of constituents I know that Lilith is working day in and day out to help people with the things that matter to them, coping with the impact of the cost of living crisis, rising council tax bills, the state of the roads and that is where we can make a real difference.”