AN SNP parliamentary worker who posted homophobic abuse about a party colleague online has been fined £400.
Kirsten Felvus, who works for Uddingston and Bellshill MSP Richard Lyle, used Facebook to make false claims about John Marshall having sex with former MSP Tommy Sheridan.
Mr Marshall (43), who runs a social media page in support of independence, was seriously ill in hospital at the time the comments were posted after having bowel surgery.
Rutherford (40), of Community Road, Bellshill, appeared at Hamilton Sheriff Court and admitting posting the offensive remarks in March last year.
She dismissed them as banter when police spoke to her.
The Uddingston and Bellshill SNP branch has been plagued by in-fighting over the last two years, with Mr Lyle’s supporters accusing some colleagues of being too close to Mr Sheridan’s Solidarity party.
Mr Marshall runs the Yes Holytown Facebook page and the court heard Felvus’s comments were posted in response to a post criticising Mr Lyle.
Lisa Lann, prosecuting, said there was offensive language on both sides and Felvus made remarks about Mr Marshall’s illness being linked to “Tommy’s parties”. The Facebook page in question had more than 2000 followers so many people saw the comments.
Felvus’s solicitor, Vincent McGovern, said she wrote the posts after she had been drinking. Her marriage had broken down the week before.
Mr McGovern said: “She believed Mr Marshall to be a member of Solidarity who was seeking to access the SNP and there were political differences between them.
“Whilst her choice of language was clearly offensive, equally she was the recipient of offensive language.
“Miss Felvus is deeply embarrassed that she made these comments. She didn’t know Mr Marshall was as ill as he was.
“She had a loss of judgment and proper control. She is not homophobic although the comments are.”
Fining Felvus, a mum-of-three, Sheriff Allan McKay told her: “This language and this type of remark is utterly unacceptable in today’s society.”
Outside court, Mr Marshall said: “I was disgusted when I saw the comments.
“I was in hospital and nearly died while she was posting these things so it wasn’t something I was willing to laugh off.
“I hope she loses her position in the SNP as a result of this. She is a vile woman.
“I am a passionate SNP supporter but I have not been able to attend local meetings because she is there.”
Mr Lyle pledged to stand by Felvus despite her online abuse.
He said she will not be disciplined and revealed he is considering legal action against party members who have made comments about him.
There are deep divisions in the SNP branch and Mr Lyle said: “I don’t condone homophobic comments, but this is a personal matter and it happened before I employed Kirsten. I believe a complaint was made only after she started working for me.
“It’s regrettable that people conduct personal vendettas. They should get a life.
“Comments have been made about me too and I might consult my lawyer regarding possible action.”