General election 2019: SNP drop candidate over claims of anti-Semitism

image captionNeale Hanvey will still appear on the ballot paper, but the SNP has pulled support from his campaign

The SNP has dropped its candidate for a key target seat after allegations of anti-Semitism were made against him.

Neale Hanvey is contesting the Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath constituency, where Labour has a majority of 0.6%.

However, the SNP has now withdrawn all support for the former councillor's candidacy, saying he had been suspended pending disciplinary action.

Mr Hanvey said he did not, in any way, consider himself to be anti-Semitic and was "genuinely and deeply sorry".

He had shared a post on Facebook in 2016 which included an image of billionaire George Soros as a puppet master controlling world leaders.

'Deeply offensive'

In a tweet, he said he "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 was wrong and I apologise unreservedly for any offence caused".

Mr Hanvey also apologised for another post in which he drew parallels between the treatment of Palestinians and the "unconscionable treatment" of Jews in World War Two.

"This was insensitive, upsetting and deeply offensive and is in direct contravention of the IHRA definition of antisemitism," he said. "For that I give an unequivocal apology".

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

He added that he fully supported the decision to suspend him and said Nicola Sturgeon was right to take a zero-tolerance approach.

"Although I do not in any way consider myself to be anti-Semitic, on reflection the language I used was, and this is clearly unacceptable," he said.

He said he hoped his errors could be be used to further the understanding of anti-Semitic language and "seek to make amends for these dreadful errors of judgement with the Jewish community".

Mr Hanvey's name will still appear on the ballot paper on 12 December, but the SNP has pulled support from his campaign and he would sit as an independent if elected.

'No place in the SNP'

Business convener Kirsten Oswald said: "Anti-Semitism 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 All support for his campaign has been withdrawn."

Mr Hanvey is the third candidate to have been dropped by Scottish parties inside two days.

Labour withdrew its support for Falkirk candidate Safia Ali earlier on Thursday over allegations of anti-Semitic posts on Facebook.

And on Wednesday the Conservatives suspended their Glasgow Central candidate, Flora Scarabello, after she was accused of using "anti-Muslim language".

More on this story