Angus and Perthshire candidate stands by remarks on Humza Yousaf aid decision during Dundee in-laws’ Gaza ordeal

Angus and Perthshire Tory candidate Stephen Kerr has defended his controversial remarks over aid given to Gaza by Humza Yousaf while his Dundee in-laws were trapped in the war zone.

The first minister approved a £250,000 donation of public money to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) on November 2 despite being advised the cash should go to charity Unicef.

Mr Yousaf’s mother and father-in-law, the parents of Dundee councillor Nadia El-Nakla, were still trapped in the territory at the time but managed to leave the following day.

Mr Kerr says there is a “clear conflict of interest” in the donation to UNRWA, an agency that supports Palestinian refugees and has been accused of having links to Hamas who massacred more than 1,000 Israelis last October.

The Scottish Conservative politician, currently an MSP in the Central Scotland region, also claims the fact Mr Yousaf and Ms El-Nakla have relatives living in Gaza raises “significant questions” over taxpayers’ money being used for aid.

But the first minister insists the criticism of the donation, initially reported in The Telegraph, was an “Islamophobic attack”.

First Minister Humza Yousaf. Image: Kenzie Gillies/DC Thomson

He says UNRWA officials were not in any way linked to his in-laws’ escape from Gaza.

Speaking on Tuesday, Mr Kerr stood by his comments.

He told The Courier: “The first minister is accountable to parliament and the people of Scotland, and he has questions to answer.

“It is about the use of public funds and all questions about this matter are legitimate.

“No one in elected office, not least the person in the highest elected office in Scotland, has carte blanche to spend taxpayers money without scrutiny.

“He received ministerial and official advice and at the last minute he intervened to reverse decisions which had already been made.

Maged and Elizabeth El-Nakla, Humza Yousaf’s in-laws. Image: Nadia El-Nakla.

“It is a matter of public interest to ask why this was done.”

Mr Kerr’s initial remarks, made last Friday, incurred a huge wrath from angry SNP parliamentarians.

Perthshire MSP Pete Wishart claims his constituents in the region are “sickened and appalled” by the remarks.

SNP Deputy Leader Keith Brown says Mr Kerr is not suitable to be a Tory candidate at the next Westminster election.

Keith Brown responded to the chaos in Kirkton.
SNP Deputy Leader Keith Brown. Image: PA.

Mr Kerr announced last year he was plotting a return to the House of Commons in the new Angus and Perthshire Glens seat, which would see him leave Holyrood if successful.

The Central Scotland MSP said: “It says much about the way the deputy leader of the SNP sees the world that he believes that because I had the temerity to ask questions, I should be barred from standing to represent my home area of Angus and Perthshire Glens.

“Most people would consider that to be exactly why we have Members of Parliament.

“And I can assure the people of Angus & Perthshire Glens I would do the same as their MP regardless of which political party forms the next UK Government.

“Elected members should always put the interests of the country and their constituents first.”

‘Depressing smears’

In his criticism of The Telegraph’s report, Mr Yousaf claimed he was being subjected to “smears”.

He wrote: “Most of my political life, I’ve battled insinuations from sections of the media desperate to link me to terrorism despite campaigning my whole life against it.

“The Scottish Government gave money to Gaza, like virtually every Government in the West, because of the unarguable humanitarian catastrophe that has unfolded there.

“Due to my faith and race, there will always be those, particularly on the far-right, who will desperately try to “prove” my loyalties lie elsewhere.

“For The Telegraph to give oxygen to these smears is depressing.”

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