Bute councillor and Argyll and Bute provost Len Scoullar has denied expressing fears that terrorists could be among the refugee families set to be resettled on the island.
Wednesday’s edition of the Scottish Sun newspaper, under the front page headline ‘I hope there’s not a terrorist among this lot’, quoted Councillor Scoullar as saying people were frightened that events similar to the attacks in Paris on Friday “could happen among these folk who are coming”.
He was also reported to have said: “And it’s always been a reservation that I’ve had but we just hope these are genuine people and we can do the genuine thing for them.”
Among those who criticised the reported remarks was Argyll and Bute MSP Michael Russell, who said that Cllr Scoullar’s position would be “untenable” if he did not “acknowledge very quickly that he spoke foolishly and out of turn”.
Councillor Scoullar told The Buteman: “I did not say those words. There is no need for me to consider my position. I don’t think there are terrorists among these people. Not for a moment.
“For the avoidance of doubt I wish to make it clear that I always have, and will continue to, support the refugee resettlement initiative and I am looking forward to the families arriving on Bute before Christmas.
“I am confident in the measures being put in place by the Home Office to ensure that the right families are resettled in the right communities.
“The terror attacks in Paris on Friday night shocked the world. I have personally written to Emmanuel Cocher, Consul general de France, on behalf of the people of Argyll and Bute to express my deepest sympathies to all of those involved.
“Our plans, however, have not changed in light of this shameful attack. What happened in Paris on Friday is exactly the type of violence that these refugees are fleeing from.
“I personally will be happy to welcome them when they do arrive.”