Scotland politics

Ruth Davidson abuse: SNP suspends member over tweet

Twitter profile Image copyright Twitter
Image caption The abusive tweets were sent from the account of a Twitter user purporting to be a supporter of the '45' group

An SNP member who subjected the Scottish Conservative leader to homophobic abuse on Twitter has been suspended from the party.

Politicians from across the political spectrum condemned the expletive-littered abuse levelled at Ruth Davidson.

Ms Davidson responded: "Do you kiss your mother with that mouth? Bet she's really proud of you."

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the abuse was "unacceptable. End of".

She added: "Anyone engaging in it [homophobic abuse] is no friend of my party."

Name and photograph

She told MSPs at first minister's questions that the party had suspended a member pending an investigation.

The abuse was originally posted on Twitter on Wednesday night by a user with the profile Laird O'Callaghan and username SparkyBhoyHH, who purports to be based in Edinburgh.

Image copyright Twitter
Image caption Tweets were sent from O'Callaghan's account following Nicola Surgeon's announcement that he had been suspended from the SNP

In response, a tweet sent from O'Callaghan's account said: "Boohoo, support the woman that hates Scotland and supported no. She is a gobby Tory. She is well off, she hates working class, she loves Cameron."

Other Twitter users have published a name and photograph of a man they claim was the author of the abusive tweet to Ms Davidson.

O'Callaghan's profile originally included pictures of the SNP logo and artwork for the "45" group, which claims to represent the 45% that voted Yes in last September's independence referendum, but these were later removed.

'Push for expulsion'

He continued to comment on the controversy on Thursday, tweeting: "OK, so I accept what I said to @RuthDavidsonMSP was wrong, ill conceived and overtly offensive, I was angry, her policies hurt me directly."

After changing his Twitter name to @_FoolHardy_ he later said he had spoken personally to Ms Davidson, who he said had "generously accepted my sincere apology, so can we please move on."

Ms Davidson tweeted: "Mark phoned my office to apologise. Showed genuine contrition and says he won't make anti-gay statements again. I accepted his apology."

Humza Yousaf, the Scottish government's minister for international development and external affairs, had pledged to investigate whether the owner of the account was a member of the SNP, with a view to expelling him from the party.

Mr Yousaf tweeted: "Utterly disgraceful. Will investigate if member. Personally will push for expulsion. Zero-tolerance homophobia."

Last week, Mr Yousaf was reportedly compared to convicted terrorist Abu Hamza by UKIP MEP David Coburn.

Image copyright Twitter
Image caption Ruth Davidson said in a statement it was "heartening" that so many people had tweeted their support to her

Others on social media, including SNP supporters, condemned the abuse. They included RogueCoder, who tweeted: "@RuthDavidsonMSP @SparkyBhoyHH I disagree with Ruth on almost everything - but not this. She deserves your respect. Get lost troll."

The SNP's suspension of its member was welcomed by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality group Stonewall Scotland.

Its director, Colin Macfarlane said: "The vile and offensive language aimed at Ms Davidson is unacceptable. Sadly, our research shows this kind of abuse happens every day to lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people, not only online but in our playgrounds, our workplaces, on our streets and in our wider community.

"That's why we launched our No Bystanders campaign which over 13,000 people have signed so far pledging to not stand back when they hear or see all forms of bullying."

In a statement, Ms Davidson said: "I'm not the only politician who gets abuse online.

"I've previously condemned those who have racially abused Humza Yousaf as well as the torrents of sexism and misogyny aimed at the first minister.

"A significant proportion of the abuse I receive is homophobic, and I make a point of calling out a selection of such tweets every few weeks."

She added: "It is heartening to me that so many people online agree that challenging someone's politics is healthy but abusing them for their race, colour, gender, sexuality or other area of themselves is simply unacceptable."

In December, four SNP councillors were suspended by the party for two months after they filmed themselves burning a copy of the Smith Commission report on new powers for the Scottish Parliament.