The Scottish Health Secretary Humza Yousaf and his wife have launched legal action against a Dundee nursery which they accuse of offering school places to white children while at the same time denying them to Muslim kids.
Mr Yousaf and Nadia El-Nakla said Little Scholars in Broughty Ferry said it had no space available for three applicants who had ethnic, Muslim-sounding names, including the couple’s daughter Amal. However, responding to fake inquiries from three mothers with non-ethnic names, the Dundee nursery said spaces were available.
The nursery denies the allegation and said it will “respond in due course.”
The couple’s solicitor Aamer Anwar said it is alleged that Ms El-Nakla and her daughter were “subjected to direct discrimination” in breach of the Equality Act 2010. He said an action would be raised at Dundee Sheriff Court if settlement proposals, a public apology, and compensation paid to an anti-racist charity were not made within two weeks.
Mr Anwar said: “It is alleged that when on three separate occasions, (beginning with Nadia El-Nakla) attempts were made to secure a nursery place for a child with an Asian/Muslim name, the applicant was told to complete a registration form, and then were told no spaces were available.
“Following the above refusals, attempts were made to secure a nursery place for a child with a “white- sounding”, non-Muslim name. On all three separate occasions a nursery place was offered, and spaces were offered without the registration form being completed.”
A spokesman for Little Scholars Day Nursery said it had received correspondence from the couple’s solicitor.
Previously a spokesperson for the nursery said: “Our nursery is extremely proud of being open and inclusive to all and any claim to the contrary is demonstrably false and an accusation that we would refute in the strongest possible terms. We also stand by the member of our staff, named by the media today (Headteacher Michelle Mill), who has been with us since the nursery opened 14 years ago. She is professional, compassionate, incredibly hard working and a valued member of our team.
“In addition to our owners being of Asian heritage, across more than a decade we have regularly welcomed both children and staff from a range of different religious, cultural, ethnic and racial backgrounds including two Muslim families currently. We have also regularly made arrangements to accommodate different lifestyles by, for example, providing a halal menu for those children who come from Muslim families.
“We note Mr Yousaf’s call for a Care Inspectorate investigation and this is something we would absolutely welcome. We have nothing to hide and look forward to the opportunity to demonstrate the policies and procedures we have in place to ensure we are a nursery that is open and welcoming to all.”