Nursery hits out at ‘vendetta’ as health secretary sues over place for daughter

Staff at a nursery which has become embroiled in a feud with Scotland’s health secretary over a place for his daughter have said they “cannot apologise for something we haven’t done” and have fallen victim to a “vendetta”.

Humza Yousaf and his wife Nadia El-Nakla made a formal complaint about Little Scholars Day Nursery in Broughty Ferry, Dundee, after their daughter Amal failed to get a place due to an alleged lack of space, but children with white-sounding names did.

Little Scholars claimed the allegations were “demonstrably false”, but an investigation by the Care Inspectorate found the nursery “did not promote fairness, equality and respect when offering placements”.

Mr Yousaf and Ms El-Nakla previously instructed their solicitor Aamer Anwar to initiate legal proceedings against the nursery, which has continued to insist it has done nothing wrong.

A spokesman for the nursery said: “We were always confident that last week’s Care Inspectorate report would find no evidence of discrimination, and that proved to be the case when it dismissed the complaint that our nursery manager failed to display good character and integrity.

“Given that fact, we are saddened, but not wholly surprised, to learn legal proceedings have now been raised by Nadia El-Nakla with an astonishing claim for £30,000 in damages in a continuation of this campaign against us.

“They have previously demanded an apology but we cannot apologise for something we haven’t done – no matter the pressure applied to us – simply to halt what we feel has become a vendetta against a small nursery. We will therefore be robustly defending our staff and our business in any legal case which may arise.

“We remain sharply focused on the care of the children we look after and would like to extend our thanks to the families we work with and those within the local community who continue to support us through this difficult time.”

The nursery has been ordered to introduce measures so applications “are processed in a transparent and equitable manner” and to prove it is “being well led and managed”, by December 12.

It has also been told to show that “communication with prospective families is improved to demonstrate that applicants are treated in a courteous and respectful manner”, according to the ruling.

Mr Anwar said his clients were “left deeply upset when they believed their young daughter Amal was being discriminated against” and added that the nursery’s response was “very disappointing”.

He said: “My client has always been willing to discuss matters with the nursery, but that has proved impossible.

“As long as the owners of the nursery continue to ignore my client’s reasonable request for a public acknowledgement of the Care Inspectorate’s findings, and an apology for the hurt they caused my clients, then we remain instructed to pursue legal action.”

Mr Anwar added that any compensation awarded through court proceedings would be donated to an anti-racism charity.

A Care Inspectorate spokesman said: “We have upheld a complaint in relation to this matter. We found that the service did not promote fairness, equality and respect when offering placements.

“Every child in Scotland has the right to good quality care that meets their needs and respects their rights.

“We have identified areas for improvement and we will follow up on these to check on progress.

“We continue to monitor this service. If we are not satisfied that the improvements required have been met, we will not hesitate to take further action.”

Mr Anwar said the nursery has until December 12 to prove improvements have been made, otherwise the Care Inspectorate will take further action.

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