SNP member suspended over abuse


Published: Thursday 19th March 2015 by The News Editor

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An SNP member has been suspended from the party after directing foul-mouthed homophobic abuse at Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson on Twitter.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon condemned the abuse during First Minister’s Questions at Holyrood, and confirmed the individual responsible has been identified and suspended from membership.

The abuse, which is littered with expletives attacking Ms Davidson’s sexuality, was posted on the Twitter profile Laird O’Callaghan, under the username @SparkyBhoyHH.

Speaking at Holyrood, Ms Sturgeon said she wanted to take the opportunity to “condemn unreservedly the vile homophobic abuse that was being directed at Ruth Davidson on Twitter last night and this morning”.

She told MSPs: “The individual in question in that case has been identified and this morning suspended from membership of the SNP pending full disciplinary processes.”

The abuse was met with almost universal criticism by Twitter users from across the political spectrum and Scottish society.

SNP international development minister Humza Yousaf said: “Utterly disgraceful. Will investigate if member. Personally will push for expulsion. Zero-tolerance homophobia.”

Human rights lawyer Aamer Anwar, an SNP member and prominent independence supporter, said Police Scotland should “pay him a visit”.

He said: “That was a vile attack. Homophobia, sectarianism, racism, no difference – you should never have to put up with it.”

Twitter users have published a name and photograph of a man they have identified as O’Callaghan.

In response, O’Callaghan 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 (David) Cameron.”

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.

“It’s important for me that young LGBT people can see that such abuse doesn’t have to be borne.

“It’s not OK. People don’t have to just sit there and take it. You are allowed to challenge it.

“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.”

Ms Sturgeon also told MSPs that David Coburn, the Ukip MEP who likened Mr Yousaf to the convicted terrorist Abu Hamza, was not fit to be an elected representative.

MSPs last night voted unanimously to condemn the recent comments by Mr Coburn, who is reported to have said, ”Humza Yousaf, or as I call him, Abu Hamza”.

Ms Sturgeon said his remarks were “utterly reprehensible”.

“The Scottish Parliament yesterday stood in solidarity with our friend and colleague Humza Yousaf and voted unanimously to censor Mr Coburn,” she said.

“My clear view is that he is simply not fit to represent the people of Scotland in the European Parliament or anywhere else.”

Ukip leader Nigel Farage said Mr Coburn, who was elected as an MEP last May, had been ”telling a joke in poor taste”.

Mr Farage added he was not ”terribly exercised” about the row and acknowledged ”people do make mistakes”.

Colin Macfarlane, director of equality charity Stonewall Scotland, said: “We welcome the First Minister’s strong condemnation of the homophobic abuse aimed at Ruth Davidson MSP online and the SNP’s decision to suspend the party member pending an investigation.

“The vile and offensive language aimed at Ms Davidson is unacceptable.”

Ms Davidson later wrote on Twitter that the individual responsible for the abuse had phoned her office to apologise.

She said: “Showed genuine contrition and says he won’t make anti-gay statements again. I accepted his apology.”

A Conservative spokesman confirmed that Ms Davidson did not intend to pursue the matter further.

Published: Thursday 19th March 2015 by The News Editor

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