SNP suspends member over Ruth Davidson abuse

Ruth Davidson has highlighted the homophobic abuse she receives online. Picture: Jane Barlow
Ruth Davidson has highlighted the homophobic abuse she receives online. Picture: Jane Barlow
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THE SNP has suspended a party member who posted a homophobic Twitter rant against Conservative leader Ruth Davidson.

The tweet’s author, named as Marc Hughes, last night apologised to Ms Davidson for his offensive tirade on the social media forum on Wednesday.

Police Scotland contacted Ms Davidson about the incident yesterday, but she decided not to make a complaint.

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

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told MSPs at Holyrood yesterday 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 tweet sent to Ms Davidson. Picture: Contributed

The tweet sent to Ms Davidson. Picture: Contributed

Ms Davidson later wrote on Twitter that the individual responsible for the abuse had been in contact with her to say sorry. She said: “Marc phoned my office to apologise. 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. She had been contacted by Police Scotland, but was not making a complaint.

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

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

“The individual in question ... has been identified and this morning suspended from membership of the SNP, pending full disciplinary process”

Nicola Sturgeon

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 identified Hughes last night, but he initially appeared unrepentant.

In response, he stated: “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 an earlier statement, Ms Davidson said: “I’m not the only politician who gets abuse online.

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

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.”

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