Axed SNP Kirkcaldy candidate: ‘Unequivocal apology’ from Neale Hanvey

Axed SNP election candidate Neale Hanvey has issued an unequivocal apology for social media posts which were deemed anti-Semitic.

Thursday, 28th November 2019, 8:22 pm
Updated Thursday, 28th November 2019, 10:07 pm
Neale Hanvey

He issued a statement tonight accepting his “dreadful errors of judgement” – and said he let down his party and First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon with his “careless and casual” use of language.

Mr Hanvey was ditched as the SNP candidate for the marginal Kirkcaldy-Cowdenbeath sedate on Thursday night amid claims he had posted anti-Semitic comments on Facebook.

The party axed him as its candidate and suspended his party membership pending a disciplinary investigation.

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It left the local campaign in chaos just two weeks before the election December 12, with some polls suggesting he was on course to defeat Labour’s Lesley Laird who is defending a majority of just 259.

Mr Hanvey issued a detailed statement explaining his posts which dated back two years – and accepting full responsibility.

He said: “As many will now know I have been suspended with immediate effect from the SNP and although I will remain on the ballot paper, I am no longer the SNP candidate for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath. The reason for my suspension relates to several social media posts I made over two years ago.

“One message I posted was a news article from Sputnik news relating to Mr. George Soros which, I have since been advised, contained an image which is considered an anti-Semitic trope.

“On this occasion I did not give any thought to Mr Soros’ faith and did not consider the connotations of the image in that context. I fully accept that this was wrong and I apologise unreservedly for any offence caused. Whilst that was not my intention, that was the effect and I accept full responsibility for this serious misjudgment. “

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Mr Hanvey said a second post he made “drew parallels between the treatment of Palestinians and the unconscionable treatment of Jews in Europe during WW2.”

He said: “This was insensitive, upsetting and deeply offensive, and as I know understand in contravention of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism. For that I give an unequivocal apology.”

Mr Hanvey said he fully accepted his suspension and said Ms Sturgeon was right to take a zero tolerance approach.

His statement continued: “However upsetting this is for me, I fully support the decision of the National Secretary to suspend me.

“The First Minister has called for leadership on this issue and she is absolutely right to take a zero tolerance approach.

“My disappointment is that I have let down the First Minister and party colleagues by careless and casual use of language without giving it the proper thought it deserves.

“Although I do not in anyway consider myself anti-Semitic, on reflection the language I used was, and this is clearly unacceptable.

“I accept there may not be the words to express my regret for those I have offended, but I am genuinely and deeply sorry. I hope in the days ahead my errors can be used in furthering the understanding of anti-Semitic language and seek to make amends for these dreadful errors of judgement with the Jewish community.”