Anas Sarwar has said he is disappointed by the outcome of a Labour investigation that found a councillor accused of using a racial slur when referring to him has no case to answer.
Mr Sarwar claimed in January last year that a party colleague had made the remark during his campaign to succeed Kezia Dugdale as Scottish Labour leader in 2017.
Davie McLachlan was subsequently named as the councillor alleged to have made the comment and was suspended from the party as it launched an investigation into the remark, which Mr McLachlan has categorically denied.
He was alleged to have told Mr Sarwar he could not support him because “Scotland wouldn’t vote for a brown Muslim Paki”.
At the party’s National Constitutional Committee (NCC) hearing on Monday in Glasgow, the case against Mr McLachlan was dismissed.
Following the hearing, Mr Sarwar said he was disappointed by the process and the outcome of the investigation.
“I have consistently said that this isn’t about one individual,” the Scottish Labour MSP said.
“This is about challenging a wider culture and we have made great strides in the campaign against Islamophobia.
“Just this week we had Scotland’s political parties adopt a working definition of Islamophobia.
“I’m disappointed with the process and outcome and will have more to say about it but I want to give a considered response rather than one made in haste today.”
In a statement, Mr McLachlan said his reputation had been badly damaged by the allegation against him.
He said: “This has been a tremendously difficult time for my family and me and I’m delighted the NCC hearing panel has come to this conclusion.
“However, it has been a long and difficult process and I don’t think my family and I will ever get over the stress this has brought to all of us.
“My reputation and character have been badly maligned by the false accusations that were made against me but there is some consolation for me in the fact that there are many, many people who know for sure that I never have, and never would, harbour racist views.
“I have been a Labour Party member for 35 years and a councillor for 24 years and I now look forward to representing my constituents again as their Labour councillor.”
A spokesman for Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said: “Richard has said for some time now that he has concerns about the disciplinary process, how properly resourced it is, and whether it delivers fairness to both sides.”
A Labour Party spokesman said: “The Labour Party takes all complaints extremely seriously, which are fully investigated in line with our rules and procedures and any appropriate disciplinary action is taken.”