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Daily Record
Daily Record
Katrine Bussey & Fionnuala Boyle

Humza Yousaf's wife drops legal action against Scots nursery accused of discriminating against daughter

The wife of Health Secretary Humza Yousaf has dropped legal action against a nursery accused of discriminating against their young daughter. Nadia El-Nakla raised legal proceedings against Little Scholars Day Nursery in Broughty Ferry, Dundee, after the Care Inspectorate upheld a complaint in November 2021 that she and her husband made against the facility.

After a joint investigation with the Yousafs, The Record exclusively revealed that the SNP politician had pressed the watchdog to ­establish whether there had been discrimination on grounds of “either ethnicity or religion” – claims which the nursery vehemently denied.

He alleged that while they were told there were "no available spaces" for their daughter Amal, then aged two, a white friend was told days later that there were places available for her two-year-old son. Nadia El-Nakla was seeking £30,000 in damages over the alleged discrimination.

Humza Yousaf and wife Nadia El-Nakla with their daughter Amal (Paul Reid)

But on Tuesday, February 7, it was confirmed that legal action had ended following acknowledgement of the Care Inspectorate investigation, with the nursery having taken on and enforced a number of recommendations.

A joint statement, agreed by Ms El-Nakla and Sword Nursery Limited, the proprietors of Little Scholars Day Nursery, said: "Following discussions, parties have agreed to bring an end to these proceedings. No legal expenses will be paid by either party to the other.

"Sword Nursery Ltd acknowledges the previous findings of the Care Inspectorate identifying administrative changes necessary to manage admission requests in a more transparent and equitable manner. Those changes have been implemented in full. As a result of court proceedings being halted parties can confirm there has been and will be no judicial finding against either party."

Little Scholars nursery in Broughty Ferry, Dundee (Google)

During a probe by the politician's wife Nadia El-Nakla, the nursery 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.

Hitting out at Humza Yousaf and his wife - who is an SNP councillor in Dundee - Usha Fowdar, nursery owner, said the couple had "colluded in a half-baked sting operation" against the nursery and had then "mounted a vicious and cynical campaign against us in the national media". And although they were "extremely pleased" legal action against them had "terminated", nursery bosses insisted there "never was any discrimination".

Ms Fowdar also said it was "upsetting to have spent almost 18 months and tens of thousands of pounds defending our small nursery against their false claims", adding "what sort of people do that?" She continued: "Whilst we were 100 per cent prepared to see Ms El-Nakla in court, we are extremely pleased that this baseless legal action has been terminated.

"It bears repeating that, despite some extremely misleading headlines and spurious allegations, the Care Inspectorate identified administrative processes for improvement which had nothing to do with discrimination, because there never was any discrimination. Any attempt to twist this fact should be called out for what it is."

"Ms El-Nakla has, very sensibly, opted to drop her legal action in the face of our determination to defend ourselves and our hard-working employees."

Ms Fowder continued: "While I'm pleased our employees will be spared the stress of appearing as witnesses, in one sense I'm also disappointed, as the court case would have been extremely revealing and I'm utterly confident we would have prevailed. Despite this vindication, it has been deeply upsetting to have spent almost 18 months and tens of thousands of pounds defending our small nursery against their false claims.

Humza Yousaf (PA)

"It beggars belief that, rather than pick up the phone to quickly resolve what was a simple misunderstanding, they colluded in a half-baked sting operation and then mounted a vicious and cynical campaign against us in the national media."

Solicitor Aamer Anwar, acting on behalf of Humza and Nadia, said: "It was a tough decision, but as a mother and father they believe it’s the right one. Nadia and Humza, first and foremost are loving parents who like any others would do anything to protect their children.

"They only ever wanted the nursery to accept the findings of the ‘Independent Care Inspectorate’ investigation and for the nursery to make changes. The nursery owner’s may wish to say that they were prepared 100 per cent to go to court, but this was a joint agreement reached and on their acknowledgement of the findings of an independent investigation and implementing the necessary changes in full.

"The Nursery by their own admission have acknowledged changes were required to make the admissions process more "transparent and equitable” and that is the very least any young child is entitled to expect from an educational establishment in Scotland, no matter who their parent is or whatever their background.

"Nadia believes that as a mother she was justified in raising this legal action, she felt deeply hurt and hopes that as a result real change will take place. The matter is now at end and there will be no further comment.”

In November 2021 the Care Inspectorate ordered the business to introduce measures so applications "are processed in a transparent and equitable manner" and to prove it is "being well-led and managed".

A spokesman for the Care Inspectorate said at the time that "the service did not promote fairness, equality and respect when offering placements".

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