Labour MSPs decide not to suspend Kezia Dugdale over jungle jaunt

Kezia Dugdale

Kezia Dugdale’s colleagues have decided not to suspend the former Scottish Labour leader over her “unauthorised” appearance on “I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!”.

The Lothian MSP will instead be “interviewed” upon her return from the Australian jungle so she can “present her account of events”.

Ms Dugdale’s decision to appear on the reality TV show, which overshadowed the election of Richard Leonard as her successor as Scottish Labour leader on Saturday, has been heavily criticised by high profile figures in the party.

But after a meeting of Labour MSPs in Holyrood yesterday, the party’s business manager James Kelly said: “The Scottish Parliamentary Labour group today discussed the decision of Kezia Dugdale to take an unauthorised leave of absence from her parliamentary duties.

“Today, the group concluded that Kezia Dugdale would not face suspension.

“In accordance with standard procedure, Kezia Dugdale will be interviewed on her return to parliament and have the opportunity to present her account of events.”

UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn had already said that Ms Dugdale, who quit as head of Scottish Labour in August, should not be suspended because of her decision to take part in the show.

Yesterday the first pictures emerged of Ms Dugdale exiting a helicopter near where the series is filming, as she prepared to make her first appearance on the television programme.

Ms Dugdale’s partner, SNP MSP Jenny Gilruth, defended her appearance as she urged Scots to get behind the Aberdeen-born politician.

Writing in a national newspaper, Ms Gilruth said: “There are things we should be angry about right now, the rape clause, Universal Credit, Brexit. Kez going on a TV show isn’t one of them – let’s get some perspective.”

The SNP backbencher joked that Ms Dugdale had “jumped on a plane bound for Brisbane, deciding the snakes Down Under were preferable to the Holyrood variety”.

But she said news the MSP was taking part in the programme had been “leaked many days before it was supposed to be known”, saying this had “upset” Ms Dugdale.

Ms Gilruth added: “I know she was upset by some of the hurtful things written about her – how could she not be?

“The Labour Party certainly has challenges to face politically – it would be refreshing if that ‘real change’ started with a bit of human decency.”