Party bosses to investigate taxi abuse claim

Lord Peter Smith
Lord Peter Smith

LABOUR Party chiefs have launched a probe into a claim that one of their Wigan councillors racially abused a taxi driver.

Coun Emma McGurrin vehemently denied the allegation in last Friday’s Evening Post, saying private hire driver Javad Ghadri had misunderstood her and that the views expressed in the back of his car concerned Nelson and Bolton cabbies taking Wigan firms’ work away.

But Worsley Mesnes dad Mr Ghadri made an official complaint to the council’s licensing department claiming the member for Standish with Langtree told him to: “Go back to your country where you came from, or go to Bolton to live and work there, because you don’t belong here.”

Blue Star Taxis duty manager Andy Hewitt, who was rung mid-journey by the driver, said: “I could hear the passenger using very strong language. She then asked him if he was from as far away as Nelson, and then began going on about people coming over from Nelson and Bolton to take drivers’ jobs here.

“Because those two areas have quite large ethnic populations, and the driver is from an Asian background I took this to be a racial comment.”

Coun McGurrin said: “Any allegations of racism are completely unfounded. I must have been misunderstood. I have campaigned for equal opportunities ever since I was a student.”

Today Wigan’s Labour Group said would set up a team under its Chief Whip to investigate the allegations against Coun McGurrin.

Group Leader Lord Smith said: “We take these allegations seriously as they can cause damage to the Labour Group and the Council. However we intend to find out the truth behind the press story and not simply take what was written as what really happened.”