Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath candidate Neale Hanvey has had his support withdrawn from the SNP after allegations of anti-Semitism.
Hanvey, who was previously a councillor in the kingdom and the SNP’s group leader, will still stand as an MP with the SNP appearing on the ballot paper, as a result of electoral rules.
The party has withdrawn all support and Hanvey’s membership has been suspended “pending disciplinary action”.
Former councillor Hanvey shared an article from Russian-state “news” network Sputnik, which contained an image of Jewish investor George Soros “controlling world leaders like a puppet master” – a known anti-Semitic trope.
In a statement released on Thursday night, Hanvey apologised “unreservedly” for the hurt he had caused the Jewish community and fully accepted the party’s decision to suspend him.
He said: “I have been suspended with immediate effect from the SNP and although I will remain on the ballot paper, I am no longer the SNP candidate for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath. The reason for my suspension relates to several social media posts I made over two years ago.
“One message I posted was a news article from Sputnik news relating to Mr. George Soros which, I have since been advised, contained an image which is considered an anti-Semitic trope.
“On this occasion I did not give any thought to Mr Soros’ faith and did not consider the connotations of the image in that context.
“I fully accept that this was wrong and I apologise unreservedly for any offence caused. Whilst that was not my intention, that was the effect and I accept full responsibility for this serious misjudgement.
“In another message I posted I drew parallels between the treatment of Palestinians and the unconscionable treatment of Jews in Europe during WW2. This was insensitive, upsetting and deeply offensive, and as I know understand in contravention of the IHRA definition of antisemitism. For that I give an unequivocal apology.
“However upsetting this is for me, I fully support the decision of the National Secretary to suspend me.
“The First Minister has called for leadership on this issue and she is absolutely right to take a zero tolerance approach.
“My disappointment is that I have let down the First Minister and party colleagues by careless and casual use of language without giving it the proper thought it deserves.
“Although I do not in anyway consider myself anti-Semitic, on reflection the language I used was, and this is clearly unacceptable.
“I accept there may not be the words to express my regret for those I have offended, but I am genuinely and deeply sorry.
“I hope in the days ahead my errors can be used in furthering the understanding of anti-Semitic language and seek to make amends for these dreadful errors of judgement with the Jewish community.”
Kirsten Oswald, SNP business convener, said: “Antisemitism has no place in Scotland, and no place in the SNP. All political parties have a duty to show leadership, and to take tough action.
“Neale Hanvey is no longer an SNP candidate, and his membership has been suspended pending disciplinary action. All support for his campaign has been withdrawn.”
Scottish Greens candidate Scott Rutherford said: “Discriminatory language is unacceptable and parties have a duty to act when their candidates use it.
“With the SNP suspending their candidate in Kirckaldy and Cowdenbeath, it’s now clear that only a vote for the Scottish Greens can unseat Lesley Laird and secure a pro-independence MP in this constituency.
“The Scottish Greens are already leading on local issues such as protecting the renewables supply chain at BiFab and tackling pollution at Mossmorran, so a vote for the Scottish Greens is a vote for independence and to demand climate action. I would be proud to represent my area.”