ANAS Sarwar is facing new questions about a favouritism row involving his spin doctor’s wife after a leaked file showed her unique treatment as a Glasgow councillor.

The Scottish Labour leader has been urged to "come clean" about the light workload given to Lilith Johnstone, who is married to the party’s head of media and digital Oliver Milne. 

The Herald on Sunday revealed last week that Ms Johnstone, a full-time teacher who did not expect to get elected last year, sat on the fewest committees of any councillor in the city, and had never attended one of the two she does sit on.

She had also made just three spoken contributions in the council chamber in her first year - other than asking a question and voting - which totalled five minutes.

She is paid £20,000 a year as a Labour councillor in the Patrick East / Kelvindale ward, and so stands to earn £100,000 over her five-year term.

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After we reported concerns about her workload among her colleagues, Labour group business manager Frank McAveety insisted Ms Johnstone had “met her commitments in terms of her attendance at the Labour group.” 

However a leaked spreadsheet given to Labour councillors at the opposition group’s AGM last month shows Ms Johnstone had the worst attendance record by far.

She went to just two of the 24 meetings of the council Labour group in her first year as a councillor, an attendance rate of eight per cent.

The average attendance rate for all the other Glasgow Labour councillors, many of whom also have regular jobs, was 86%.

Ms Johnstone was the only councillor whose meeting number was in single figures, yet did not appear to suffer any consequences.

All the others attended at least ten, including one who was elected in a by-election six months after her and still racked up 11 out of a possible 14.

It is understood that one of the times she did attend was to vote for George Redmond, who is seen as close to Mr Sarwar, as the Labour group leader.

Her low attendance flies in the face of the Labour group’s own rules.

Its standing orders state: “All members are expected to attend every and the whole of each Labour group meeting.” 

A source said that, besides being married to Mr Milne, Ms Johnstone was also close to Mr Sarwar’s chief of staff at Holyrood, Kate Watson.

Ms Watson, a Westminster candidate in Glasgow East in 2017 and 2019, encouraged Ms Johnstone to stand for the council, the source said, adding: “She is definitely protected.” 

The Herald:

Another source said: “Last week the public was told Cllr Johnstone had fulfilled expectations in attending group meetings and hadn’t been given preferential treatment.

“So either going to one in 12 group meetings is now considered acceptable, or the preferential treatment has been extended to making ludicrous statements on her behalf.”

Glasgow Tory MSP Annie Wells said: “These latest revelations raise yet more questions for Anas Sarwar. He needs to come clean if he is giving preferential treatment to the wife of his spin doctor, who it would be generous to even describe as a part-time councillor.

“If she is getting away with attending a couple of internal group meetings a year due to her links with the Scottish Labour leader’s office, then the public have every right to ask what on earth she is doing for her salary.

“Having asked her to stand to fulfil their candidates quota last year, Anas Sarwar cannot now let one particular councillor off the hook from serving the people of Partick East and Kelvindale properly at all times.”

Labour has 36 of the 85 councillors in Glasgow, one behind the SNP who govern as a minority administration with the support of ten Greens.

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Ms Johnstone, a secondary English teacher in East Renfrewshire, effectively stood as a paper candidate in a ward where only one Labour councillor was elected in 2017.

Last year, Labour unexpectedly won two in the ward after Ms Johnstone scraped home after nine rounds of vote transfers, later admitting “it was a surprise to get elected”.

A Scottish Labour spokesperson said: “Councillor Johnstone is a full-time teacher and as a result does not attend party political meetings held during the school day. The bizarre logic of this criticism would bar almost all public workers from serving in local government.”