A Scottish Conservative candidate suspended by the national party amid accusations of anti-Semitism and homophobia will remain part of Aberdeen City Council’s ruling administration, it has emerged.
Ryan Houghton, who is currently a councillor for the George Street and Harbour ward in the city, has been suspended by the party, and told he would receive no backing in the run-up to the election.
However, Douglas Lumsden, leader of the Conservative group within the council, who is himself standing in Aberdeen South, told the Evening Express he would remain part of the party’s group within the Town House.
The national party made the decision after a number of comments made online more than seven years ago were unearthed.
But Mr Lumsden said: “He’s suspended from the party but still part of the group at present while the investigation is taking place.
“Then we would have to reassess once that is complete.”
Due to election laws, Mr Houghton will remain as the Conservative candidate on the ballot paper next month.
His position as the local authority’s business manager, a renumerated position, could also be under threat, with group leader Mr Lumsden claiming they would be “considering” whether any action is taken before the next meeting of all councillors on December 9.
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SNP group leader Stephen Flynn, who is also standing in Aberdeen South, said: “I’ve already spoken with folk across Aberdeen who find it utterly bizarre that comments that have been deemed ‘unacceptable’ by the Tories, and have led to his suspension from the party, haven’t led to Councillor Houghton being suspended from the Tory Group by Douglas Lumsden.
“Due to the manner in which the council rules are written, only the administration have the power to remove Cllr Houghton from his paid role as business manager before March 2020 – it will seem inconceivable to many that Douglas Lumsden doesn’t appear to want to take action sooner.”
In a statement released on Monday night, Mr Houghton said he took part in a range of political discussions in an online forum at the age of 20.
But he added he “strongly opposed” any Holocaust denial.
He added: “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.
“I apologise unreservedly for any hurt now caused by these comments and have been in contact with members of the Jewish Community in Aberdeen.”
Mr Houghton declined to comment further yesterday.