Labour suspends candidate over 'pro-Russian' and 'right-wing Jews' posts

The party suspended its candidate, who running against Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross, after he reportedly downplayed Russia's involvement in the Salisbury poisoning.

Labour suspends Aberdeenshire North and Moray East candidate over ‘pro-Russian’ and ‘right-wing Jews’ posts Getty Images

Scottish Labour has suspended one of its candidates in a key battleground seat over reports that he shared social media posts downplaying Russia’s involvement in the Salisbury poisoning.

The BBC reports Andy Brown, who is standing in Aberdeenshire North and Moray East, shared an article in April 2018 from Russian state media outlet RT which claimed the “toxin” used in the poisonings was “never produced in Russia, but was in service in the US, UK, and other Nato states”.

Dawn Sturgess, 44, died after being exposed to the nerve agent Novichok, which had been left in a discarded perfume bottle in Amesbury, Wiltshire, in July 2018.

It followed the attempted murders of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal, his daughter Yulia and ex-police officer Nick Bailey, who were poisoned in nearby Salisbury in March that year. All three survived, as did Ms Sturgess’s boyfriend, Charlie Rowley.

The Met Police identified three suspects wanted in connection with the poisonings: Denis Sergeev, Alexander Mishkin and Anatoliy Chepiga, who used the aliases Sergey Fedotov, Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov respectively while in the UK.

In the same month, according to the Press and Journal, Brown also shared a quote from a Jewish historian which said: “The real issue…is that right-wing Jews in the Labour party and outside the party object to the fact that Jeremy Corbyn is a consistent supporter of Palestinian rights.”

Who is running in Aberdeenshire North and Moray East?
  • Douglas Ross – Conservative
  • Andy Brown – Labour
  • Seamus Logan – SNP
  • Ian Bailey – Liberal Democrats
  • Jo Hart – Reform UK

A spokesperson for Scottish Labour said: “Andy Brown has been administratively suspended from the Labour Party pending investigation.

“We have taken the decision to withdraw support from a Parliamentary candidate during a General Election.

“Anas Sarwar and Keir Starmer have changed the Labour Party and said that every candidate and MP would operate to the highest standards. This action shows that they meant it.”

Brown will still appear as a Labour candidate on the ballot as the deadline for nominations has passed, meaning he will stand as an independent if elected on July 4.

The move to disavow the candidate was praised by shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves.

Speaking to broadcasters on Wednesday, she said: “I hadn’t heard of this guy until this morning and I’m very, very pleased that I will hopefully not have to hear of him again because he’s been suspended as a Labour candidate.

“That is absolutely right. We’ve taken the swift action.

“As soon as these postings came to light, we got rid of him.”

The Aberdeenshire North and Moray East seat has been in the news in recent weeks after Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross went back on his promise to stand down from Westminster to take over the candidacy from former MP David Duguid, who has spent time in hospital.

The backlash led to Ross announcing he would stand down as party leader after the July 4 poll.

A full list of candidates running in the general election can be found here.

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