New Scottish Labour Anas Sarwar has appeared to back the nine suspended Aberdeen councillors.
The Glasgow MSP appeared on Good Morning Scotland and revealed that he thought of the group as “not former Labour colleagues, I regard them as Labour colleagues.”
The nine councillors were suspended from the Labour party after forming an administration with the Conservatives in 2017.
They have been banned from standing as Labour councillors until 2022.
Mr Sarwar was asked about his opinion on the ongoing situation and said that they “had not been dealt with appropriately.”
He added: “They are Labour councillors doing a good job, and they won the UK Council of the Year last year.
“I think the situation is far from acceptable but they have gone through a process that was before my time as leader.
“I think that yes there was a process but there was a political decision made in that about whether they broke the rules.
“In terms of the policy programme they are delivering, it is a Labour one and the Labour councillors are doing a good job.”
Mr Sarwar was pressed on his thoughts about shamed Aberdeen councillor Alan Donnelly, whose suspension from the council ends this week.
He was given the ban after being convicted for sexual assault.
His vote could be the deciding one when the full council meets for budget discussions later this month.
Mr Sarwar said: “I don’t know Alan Donnelly, I don’t know his circumstances.”
He was then reminded about Donnelly’s conviction for sexual assault by the interviewer.
He said: “I believe he should remain suspended and the Conservatives should expel him.
“If he’s a councillor, he’s not a Labour councillor, he’s an opposition councillor, the Labour party can’t decide how he votes in the council chamber.
“He doesn’t sound like the kind of person who should be a councillor but that’s for the electorate to decide and to dump him if he chooses not to decide.
“However it’s not for Labour to decide how he votes in the council chamber.”