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Tories suspend General Election candidate over Holocaust posts

The Scottish Conservatives have withdrawn their support for Ryan Houghton in Aberdeen North.

Suspended: Ryan Houghton said his comments were taken out of context.
Suspended: Ryan Houghton said his comments were taken out of context. Ryan Houghton Facebook

The Scottish Conservatives have suspended a General Election candidate following the emergence of historic online posts regarding the Holocaust.

The Tories have withdrawn their support for Aberdeen North candidate and sitting councillor Ryan Houghton until the comments made in a forum seven years ago can be investigated.

Mr Houghton posted a statement via Twitter on Monday night, claiming his comments - that were unearthed by The National newspaper - had been taken out of context and he would "look forward" to clearing his name.

He said: "At the age of 20 on an online forum, I took part in a range of political discussions. These included terrorism, LGBT rights and anti-Semitism.

"In one of these threads started by another member of the forum there was a conversation about freedom of speech.

"There then followed a discussion about the Holocaust denier and now disgraced historian David Irving started by other members.

"In explaining David Irving's position after watching one of his lectures online, I had referenced his view that parts of the Holocaust had been fabricated or exaggerated.

"I made clear in subsequent forum posts that I was not defending the views of David Irving and I strongly opposed any Holocaust denial.

"Having been a member of the Holocaust Educational Trust, visited Auschwitz-Birkenau and as someone who has been a friend of the Jewish community here in Aberdeen, I have never held anti-Semitic or intolerant views.

"The last thing we need in the current climate is even the impression of more anti-Semitism and I cannot fathom the hurt members of the Jewish community experience, especially when individuals who make comments are later elected to public office.

"I apologise unreservedly for any hurt now caused by these comments and have been in contact with members of the Jewish community in Aberdeen.

"The Scottish Conservative party has taken the decision to suspend my membership and withdraw support from my campaign for Aberdeen North until the comments from seven years ago can be investigated.

"As a party we have been quick to call out the comments made by others and should act equally swiftly when an allegation of a similar kind is made against one of our own members."

Mr Houghton said he was "saddened, but not surprised" over The National's "reluctance to apply analysis to the context of the discussion" and claimed the newspaper was on "the hunt for scalps".

He added: "I will fully cooperate with the investigation by the party and look forward to clearing my name."

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