British official lost without translation

March 15, 2009 at 2:23 PM
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LONDON, March 15 (UPI) -- An official with Britain's Labor Party insulted those with Scottish accents by asking for a translation of a Glasgow man's comments, a union official says.

In a question-and-answer session in Dundee, Scotland, Labor deputy leader Harriet Harman had difficulty understanding a questioner and asked whether anyone else was having trouble hearing, the Daily Mail reported Sunday. General Secretary Ray Collins -- the most senior Labor official -- then asked Scottish Labor Party General Secretary Colin Smyth to translate the man's comments, the newspaper said.

Union official Mary Fee of Glasgow filed a formal complaint against Collins.

"I heard Mr. Collins' remarks clearly," Fee said. "I was upset by what he said and considered it to be racist. The man had a normal Scottish accent and most people could understand him perfectly well."

Fee said Collins has apologized.

"He said he was very sorry and he had not intended to cause offense," she told the Mail. "He said it was as a result of a problem with the sound in the hall."

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