Top Independent Group candidate in Scotland removed over offensive tweets

The top European election candidate in Scotland for the Independent Group has been removed from the party’s list after a number of offensive tweets were uncovered.

The Independent Group is standing in the European Elections under the banner of Change UK
The Independent Group is standing in the European Elections under the banner of Change UK

Joseph Russo, a former party worker for the Labour-allied Co-operative Party, posted tweets seven years ago in which he questioned the arrest of child sex abuser Gary Glitter, and claimed: “Black women scare me.”

In a statement, the Independent Group - which is taking part in European Elections as Change UK - said: “We have been made aware of several offensive twitter posts.

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In tweets from 2012 first uncovered by the Red Robin website, Mr Russo wrote: “The arrest of Gary Glitter smacks of the Police targeting low hanging fruit.”

He also tweeted: “Black women scare me. I put this down to be [sic] chased through Amseterdam by a crazy black whore…”

In separate posts, Mr Russo described the owner of the Dominos Pizza chain as a “loony catholic”, and just three years ago called the Independent Group MP Anna Soubry “Thatcher 2.0”.

Mr Russo is a PhD candidate and graduate teaching assistant in German at the University of Glasgow. He was part of a full list of six candidates selected by the Independent Group in Scotland. His twitter account was made private as the list of candidates was revealed.

On Wednesday morning, Mr Russo wrote on twitter: “I have not stood for elected office before. Though it was a privilege to have been selected for @TheIndGroup, I have found the last 24hrs exhausting and was not fully prepared for the level of personal scrutiny I'd be under.

“I wish the remaining ChangeUK candidates the best of luck in their bid to change politics and ensure Scotland has a stong [sic] pro-remain voice in the European Parliament.”

Mr Russo is the second Independent Group candidate to stand down over offensive tweets, after Ali Sadjady, who was on the party's London list, quit over a post about "Romanian pickpockets".