NICOLA Sturgeon has insisted that voters will decide the fate of the SNP Edinburgh South candidate who used a fake Twitter account to link to a satirical site which jokingly compared anti-independence campaigners to Nazi collaborators.
Neil Hay has apologised for setting up an account under the name Paco McSheepie, from which he said some elderly voters could “barely remember their own names”.
His secret Twitter feed was exposed by the Evening News yesterday – before rival parties called for him to be sacked at First Minister’s Questions.
It has also emerged that Mr Hay, who is aiming to dislodge Labour’s Ian Murray in the constituency, where polls suggest a tight finish, was paid £4500 of taxpayers’ money to carry out work for Edinburgh Southern MSP Jim Eadie.
Mr Eadie said he was not aware of the fake Twitter account when he employed the Westminster candidate.
He said: “Neil Hay undertook project work for me between December 2013 and March 2014. He has not worked for me since then. I was not aware of the tweets.”
Mr Hay, a volunteer with the Edinburgh Cyrenians charity, used the Paco McSheepie account to link to political satire site BBC Scotlandshire, which branded ‘No’ campaigners “Quislings” – a reference to the name of the Nazi collaborator who headed the puppet Norwegian government during Hitler’s occupation.
Scottish Conservative Edinburgh South candidate Miles Briggs said: “Voters will be shocked by the views expressed by Neil Hay and questions clearly must be asked if he is fit to serve in public office.”
Scottish Labour deputy leader Kezia Dugdale yesterday called on Ms Sturgeon to act during FMQs, a demand repeated by leader Jim Murphy.
He said: “I know it’s an unusual step to take at this stage of the election campaign, but the SNP should sack this candidate. His name doesn’t belong on a ballot paper.”
Ms Sturgeon told Holyrood: “I do condemn the language used and I condemn the comments made as I always do when anybody steps out of line on Twitter, on Facebook or on any medium.
“Neil Hay has rightly apologised – and I think given that we face an election in two weeks it’s up to the voters to decide.”
An SNP source said there was little the party could do.
“His name is on the ballot paper, nominations have closed,” they added. “Even if a party wanted to take action, there is nothing obvious that can be done. It’s absolutely down to the voters.”
Mr Hay was unavailable for comment.