The Conservative candidate for Aberdeen North has been suspended by the party after comments he made several years ago on an online forum emerged.
The Scottish Conservatives said it had withdrawn its support for Ryan Houghton, while condemning “all forms of Islamophobia, homophobia and anti-Semitism”.
Mr Houghton said the National newspaper had taken a “selective look” at comments he made in discussions about terrorism, LGBT rights and anti-Semitism and vowed to clear his name.
As I’m aware of an emerging story in The National tonight that takes a look comments out of context made over 7 years ago I wish to make the following statement: pic.twitter.com/5JCyp7C2s5
— Ryan Houghton for Aberdeen North (@RyanJHoughton) November 18, 2019
He said that in the discussions seven years ago, when he was 20, he referenced the views of discredited historian and Holocaust denier David Irving but had made clear in subsequent posts that he was not defending them.
Mr Houghton said in a statement on Monday evening: “I apologise unreservedly for any hurt now caused by these comments and have been in contact with members of the Jewish Community in Aberdeen.”
He said he had “never held anti-Semitic or intolerant views”.
A spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives said: “The comments contained in these blogs are unacceptable and Mr Houghton has been suspended as a member of the Scottish Conservative party as a result.
“The party has also withdrawn its support for his candidacy in Aberdeen North.
“The Scottish Conservatives deplore all forms of Islamophobia, homophobia and anti-Semitism.”
Mr Houghton said following his suspension: “As a party we have been quick to call out the comments by others and should act equally swiftly when an allegation of a similar kind is made against one of our own members.”
While saying he was saddened by the newspaper’s “reluctance to apply analysis to the context of a discussion”, he said: “I will fully cooperate with the investigation by the party and look forward to clearing my name.”