MSP writes to First Minister over suspended SNP candidate

Paul Martin MSP
Paul Martin MSP

Scottish Labour’s business manager Paul Martin MSP has written to First Minister Alex Salmond to ask why he is refusing to sack Murdostoun candidate Lyall Duff.

Mr Duff, who hopes to be elected to North Lanarkshire Council in May is currently suspended from the SNP pending an investigation into abusive Facebook messages as reported in April 4 edition of Motherwell Times and on our website.

The SNP have so far refused to comment on the nature of the disciplinary procedure which will be taken against Mr Duff.

A spokesman said: “Now that Mr Duff is suspended from the party, it would be inappropriate to comment further until the disciplinary process reaches its conclusion”.

This prompted Mr Martin’s letter, which reads -

Dear First Minister

You will be aware of the case of Lyall Duff, selected by your party to contest the Murdostoun Ward in the forthcoming elections in North Lanarkshire.

You will be familiar with his use of Facebook to accuse Catholic nurses of being “money grabbing old witches”, urge people to burn branches of RBS, suggest physical repercussions against Fred Goodwin and his family, make racist remarks about French people, viciously attack opposition politicians, claim he was being “groomed” by a barmaid, suggest the use of dog’s excrement in the local election “bunfight”, and claim his election victory was “in the bag”.

You may or not be aware of the full catalogue of profanity and expletives with which he littered his Facebook page, many of which are too graphic and obscene to have been reported in detail.

I am of the view that his remarks, taken in totality, constitute the most obscene abuse and hatred.

I am, therefore, troubled by your party’s response to this affair. I understand you have suspended Mr Duff from your party pending an investigation. At the same time, your party spokespersons are widely quoted in today’s media confirming that Mr Duff does not deny posting this offensive material.

On that basis, I cannot see what it is you are attempting to investigate. There is no doubt that Mr Duff made these remarks, and no doubt that these remarks render Mr Duff unfit to hold public office.

Whether or not you believe Mr Duff should be expelled from your party is a judgement you will have to make, albeit one that will reflect badly on you if you duck the issue. I know that there is now no clear mechanism to remove Mr Duff from the ballot paper, where he will appear as an SNP candidate.

Because of that, and because he is so clearly unfit to hold public office, I am asking you to ensure that your party takes all the necessary steps to ensure you do not promote his candidature or meet his election expenses. I also am asking you publicly encourage your supporters in the Murdostoun ward not to vote for Mr Duff in light of the information now available.

Furthermore, and in the interests of transparency, I am asking you to explain:

1. Who selected Mr Duff as an SNP candidate and was he required to undergo a vetting process to examine his suitability to stand for public office?

2. Given the number of Facebook friends and interactions Mr Duff had with prominent SNP members and elected representatives, what knowledge did other local MSPs and councillors have of his views?

3. Do you consider Mr Duff to be a fit person to stand for your party and, if not, will you join us in advising your supporters in the Murdostoun Ward not to vote for him?

The Scottish Parliament recently passed new legislation to crack down on offensive and threatening behaviour online, put forward by your own government. I am sure that you will want to uphold the spirit of that legislation by cracking down on offensive behaviour online where it happens in your party.

In light of the public interest in this matter, I have released this letter to the media.

Yours sincerely

Paul Martin MSP