A candidate standing in today’s Denny and Banknock by-election has apologised after Labour withdrew its support for him over alleged sectarian comments shared on his Facebook profile.
Andy Bell was selected by local party bosses last month to contest the seat vacated by the SNP’s John McNally.
The joke I shared via social media, two years ago, was in poor taste, and I can’t defend itFormer Labour candidate Andy Bell
The screengrabs, which have been seen by The Falkirk Herald, were gathered by a concerned constituent.
They appear to show Mr Bell sharing sectarian messages.
A spokesman for Scottish Labour said: “Andy Bell has been suspended by the Labour Party pending an investigation. Although it is too late for Mr Bell to be removed from the ballot, the party has withdrawn any support for him as a by-election candidate.”
Mr Bell told The Falkirk Herald yesterday 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.”
Falkirk Council said: “Mr Bell was validly nominated and the ballot papers continue to meet the requirements of legislation.”
The constituent who contacted The Falkirk Herald said: “There’s no place in today’s society for religious bigotry. Behaviour like this needs to be challenged and stamped out.”
Mr Bell is still standing in today’s by-election, but no longer representing Labour.
Three other candidates are also standing. The SNP has selected Paul Garner, the Tories have chosen David Grant and Brian Capaloff will stand for the Scottish Greens.
An SNP spokesman said: “While we welcome the action taken by the Labour Party in suspending their candidate, as there is no place for sectarianism in Scotland, we have concerns that such an individual was deemed fit to stand by the Labour Party in the first place.”