Kezia Dugdale escapes Labour Party suspension after I’m A Celeb stint

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Former Labour leader Kezia Dugdale has escaped a suspension from the party over her controversial appearance on reality TV show I’m A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here!

Instead the Lothians MSP received a formal written warning and reprimand for her three week stint in the Australian jungle without permission from party chiefs.

Kezia Dugdale and Labour Leader Richard Leonard. Picture: TSPL/PA

Kezia Dugdale and Labour Leader Richard Leonard. Picture: TSPL/PA

READ MORE: Kezia Dugdale set for Holyrood return after I’m a Celebrity performance

Ms Dugdale will be in Holyrood to vote tonight on a debate on the economy. The Lothians MSP arrived back at Glasgow Airport today after her stint in the Australian jungle.

The Labour group executive which met with Ms Dugdale today also included finance spokesman James Kelly and MSPs Mary Fee and Colin Smyth.
The Lothian MSP touched down at Glasgow Airport from Australia just before midday on Wednesday before heading to the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh.

READ MORE: Kezia Dugdale to remain in Australia after I’m a Celebrity exit

Ms Dugdale said she “regretted” that her appearance on the show overshadowed the opening weeks of Mr Leonard’s leadership, but stopped short of apologising in a written statement issued by the party yesterday. She refused to elaborate on the statement when confronted by journalists in parliament, prompting claims she had been “gagged.”

Ms Dugdale flew back into Scotland yesterday and returned to Holyrood to vote last night. But she had earlier faced a grilling from the party’s Holyrood group executive in Edinburgh over her jungle stint.

She had been widely criticised for neglecting her constituents to appear on the reality show, which saw her pocket a near £100,000 fee. She has said some of this will go to charity.

Labour Business Manager James Kelly said: “Kezia Dugdale was interviewed by the Scottish Labour Parliamentary Group Executive regarding her unauthorised absence from parliament for three weeks.

“Following a discussion between Richard Leonard, Kezia Dugdale, and the group executive, it has been decided that the group will reprimand Ms Dugdale by way of written warning. She will not face further action.”

Ms Dugdale stated: “I deeply regret that this caused issues in the first weeks of Richard Leonard’s leadership and I am determined that it won’t affect Labour’s ability to scrutinise the Scottish Budget.”

Ms Dugdale faced a gauntlet of journalists at Holyrood last night after voting with fellow Labour MSPs. But she refused to comment further on the written statement prompting claims that she had been “gagged” by Mr Leonard.

Ms Dugdale’s own Labour colleagues have been among the most trenchant critics over her stint on the reality TV show. Left-winger Neil Findlay branded the appearance “ludicrous” , while North-east MSP Jenny Marra accused her of treating politics as a “shortcut to celebrity”.

Tory MSP Murdo Fraser used Ms Dugdale’s return to taunt Labour MSPs at Holyrood over their “second jobs, earning six-figure salaries for three weeks work on the other side of the world”.