Labour suspends former Denny by-election candidate from party

Labour withdrew its support for by-election candiate Andy Bell on Tuesday
Labour withdrew its support for by-election candiate Andy Bell on Tuesday

Labour has suspended its candidate for last week’s Denny and Banknock by-election pending an internal investigation into allegations he shared sectarian messages on Facebook.

The party withdrew its support for Andy Bell (30) ahead of the vote last Thursday but not in time to field a replacement, meaning his name still appeared on ballot papers.

The by-election was won by Paul Garner of the SNP, who took 69 per cent of the vote.

Questions have been raised over whether local party bosses carried appropriate vetting before approving Bell’s candidacy.

A Labour spokesman said: “Andy Bell has been suspended as a party member and is under investigation. It would be inappropriate for the party to comment further at this time.”

Mr Bell told The Falkirk Herald that the Facebook comments had been intended as a “joke”.

He said: “I would like to apologise for any offence I have caused, and also for letting my party down. The joke I shared via social media, two years ago, was in poor taste, and I can’t defend it.”

An SNP spokesman said: “The last two elections, the Denny by-election and the selection fiasco for the General Election, Labour have ended up with investigations into their selection processes.

“Clearly they have problems but these are for the Labour Party to address.

“For our part we are happy that Falkirk has a first class MP and Denny another hard working SNP councillor.”