Scottish Labour leadership contender Anas Sarwar accepted a £4000 political donation from a company owned by a convicted paedophile.
The MSP was given the money by Ali Najafian’s A&G Investments Ltd to fund his successful campaign to be party deputy.
Iranian businessman Najafian admitted a catalogue of sex offences against young girls in 1992.
A 12-year-old victim was so traumatised she tried to take her own life three times and had to undergo psychiatric counselling.
Najafian – who has 18 company directorships – instructed lawyers to threaten to go to court and get a gag order preventing us from revealing details of his past and his cash gift.
The 64-year-old property tycoon owns A&G Investments with brother Gholam.
He has been at the centre of controversy several times over the years – including a cramped labour camp filled with Eastern European workers being found on his land.
As well as the donation in 2011, Najafian’s firm has given £8000 in total to Scottish Labour – a further £2000 went to its Glasgow Central branch in 2010 months before Anas took over the seat from his dad Mohammad Sarwar – along with £2000 to the wider party.
A spokeswoman for the Electoral Commission confirmed it is the responsibility of political parties and individuals to check if donations come from a permissible source.
There is no suggestion that Sarwar broke any electoral rules.
Married dad-of-three Sarwar, 37, is running against Monica Lennon to become Scottish Labour’s next leader after Richard Leonard stepped down earlier this month.
He admitted having met Najafian at party events and knowing his nephew but claimed he was unaware of the convictions.
Sarwar said: “I had no knowledge of these abhorrent revelations from 30 years ago about a director in a company which donated to the Labour Party and my campaign a decade ago.
“I am angry about this and any insinuation that I would have ever accepted this donation with that knowledge is deeply distressing.
“It is also upsetting, and I feel not a coincidence, to see this surfacing in the week I have launched my campaign to reunite the country – but that only makes me more determined to change our politics and rebuild our nation.”
Despite calls for Najafian to pay compensation to his victims in 1992, the taxpayer paid the bill for a criminal injuries award after his appearance at Hamilton Sheriff Court.
He was sentenced to complete 200 hours of community service and one year’s probation.
In 2005, a site housing Polish labourers in cramped conditions was uncovered by firefighters at a farmhouse which was owned by Najafian at the time.
Some 30 workers – five to a room – were lodging in portable cabins on Greenfield Farm, near Eaglesham, Renfrewshire.
Firefighters found the squalid digs after being called to a blaze at the property and a local authority probe was launched over claims the accommodation block had been erected without permission.
At the time, Najafian said he had rented the farm to a German firm and had no idea it was being used for accommodation.
In 2006 Najafian was again at the centre of controversy over plans to pull down a play park on land he owned.
He had bought the plot in Barrhead five years earlier – while the play equipment was owned by East Renfrewshire Council.
The businessman closed the site because talks aimed at giving him an alternative piece of land broke down and he wanted the council to pay him rent.
When we contacted Najafian on Friday he said: “Please please, I swear to God I have never done anything wrong in my life, I have got a daughter, I have got corona.”
His legal team said they planned to take the Sunday Mail to the Court of Session within 24 hours in a bid to have our revelations blocked via an interim interdict.
However, they later climbed down and dropped the threat.
Despite claims from Najafian and his lawyers that he was self-isolating with Covid-19, we observed him leaving his luxury home in East Kilbride.
He drove off in a Range Rover before picking up another man from a nearby property and leaving the estate on Friday afternoon.
Sarwar became an MP for Glasgow Central at the General Election in 2010, succeeding his father Mohammad who was the first Muslim MP in the UK.
He was elected deputy leader of Scottish Labour in 2011 – after accepting money from Najafian’s company – and remained in the role until 2014.
After losing his Westminster seat in 2015, he became an MSP in 2016 and was beaten by Leonard for the Scottish leadership in 2017.
During that campaign, his decision to send his children to private school was criticised.
He also faced questions over claims United Wholesale (Scotland) Ltd, the cash and carry business his family built, didn’t pay the voluntary Real Living Wage to staff.
At the time company accounts showed he and his wife received more than £500,000 in dividends from the firm down the years thanks to his 23 per cent stake.
The revelations led to Sarwar transferring his shares – worth roughly £5million – into a trust for his children.
Sarwar’s parliamentary register of interests have previously revealed he accepted £40,000 from a non-family firm ultimately controlled from the tax haven of the British Virgin Islands.
The Labour leadership race was triggered on January 14 by the resignation of Richard Leonard, with the winner due to be announced on February 27.
A spokesman for Sarwar said Najafian’s companies had not donated to the MSP since 2011 and hadn’t given any funds to his current leadership campaign.
Scottish Labour declined to comment.