Former SNP councillor charged by police with alleged sexual offences

Lewis Ritchie, who quit the party in 2018 and sits as an independent, has also been charged for alleged indecent communications.

Monday, 29th June 2020, 10:06 pm
Updated Monday, 29th June 2020, 10:12 pm
Edinburgh City Chambers

A former SNP councillor has been charged with a string of sexual offences including allegedly sending indecent communications.

Lewis Ritchie, an independent councillor at Edinburgh City Council who represents the Leith Walk ward, was arrested by police investigating complaints over offences which allegedly took place between April 2016 and October 2019.

The councillor quit the party in 2018 following allegations of sexual misconduct at the SNP conference in 2017, and was suspended by the party following an alleged physical altercation at the same event.

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Ritchie is a keen boxer and distance runner and a former chairman of the Royal Air Forces Association for Edinburgh, Lothian and the Borders, as well as being an army reservist.

The 36-year-old also runs the It’s All Good cafe in Easter Road, and has been married for six years and has a young child.

The incidents are alleged to have taken place in the Leith area of Edinburgh between April 2016 and October 2019 and in the Kelvinbridge area of Glasgow in October 2017.

Police Scotland said Mr Ritchie was released and will appear at Edinburgh Sheriff Court at a later date.

A Police Scotland spokesperson told the Evening News: “A 36-year-old man has been arrested and charged in connection with sexual offences and indecent communications between April 2016 and October 2019 in the Leith area of Edinburgh and October 2017 in the Kelvinbridge area of Glasgow.

“He was released on an undertaking to appear at Edinburgh Sheriff Court at a later date.”

In February 2018, Cllr Ritchie was suspended by the party following a complaint of an alleged physical incident at the party’s conference in October 2017.

Councillor Ritchie denied the allegations made against him at the time and in March the same year, he quit as a member of the SNP.

Since his resignation he has sat as an independent member of the council, and in March avoided suspension by the Standards Commission as an investigation into his actions continued, The Herald reported.

During his time as an independent councillor he was accused of neglecting his ward by failing to turn up to meetings, a claim he labelled “an attempt to kick me when I’m down”.

In 2017 he was shortlisted for Local Politician of the Year at the prestigious Politician of the Year awards and was considered a rising star in the party.

Lewis Ritchie said: “I strongly refute the allegations officers of Police Scotland have recently conveyed to me. I intend to defend myself robustly if and when the opportunity arises to do so. As much as I would like to go into greater detail I cannot give any further statement until legal process has run its course.”

A spokesperson for Edinburgh City Council said: “This is a Police matter and it would be inappropriate for us to comment further at this time.”