Edinburgh Council’s former planning chief Lewis Ritchie has been suspended from the SNP following a complaint over an alleged physical incident at the party’s conference last year.
The councillor is accused of having hit another delegate during an alleged fracas in a taxi at the SNP’s annual party conference in Glasgow in October.
The SNP’s internal disciplinary committee confirmed it is now considering a complaint and he has been suspended pending a hearing.
The Evening News revealed in November that Ritchie, who was nominated for a top political award just weeks later, had stepped aside from his roles as planning convenor and Leith Walk ward councillor at the City of Edinburgh Council due to “health reasons”, after telling SNP group party leader Adam McVey that he had taken on too much and found it was having a detrimental effect on his wellbeing.
The SNP said at the time that he would be allowed to return to his duties when he felt able to. He had been due to return to work on 7 January, but it is understood his leave of absence was extended. Councillor Neil Gardiner has been named as the local authority’s new planning convenor, although no matter what the outcome of the hearing, Ritchie can remain a councillor, even if he is no longer a member of the SNP.
However, a statement issued by the party today said that he is under “administrative suspension”.
A spokesman for the SNP said: “A complaint has been passed to the disciplinary committee and Cllr Ritchie is under administrative suspension until a hearing takes place.”
It is understood that the complaint was not made by the person who was hit, but a third party not present at the time. A source told The Evening News that Ritchie was involved in a disagreement in the car.
However, the source added that Ritchie subsequently paid for the taxi and immediately afterwards bought a drink for the other delegate to apologise for the incident.
City council leader Adam McVey said: “I’ve been informed that Lewis has been suspended from the SNP pending a disciplinary committee meeting. The administration remains focused on delivering our programme for the Capital and particularly passing our budget next week.”
Ritchie was shortlisted - alongside Aberdeen City Council leader Jenny Laing and Susan Aitken, the first ever SNP leader of Glasgow City Council - for the Local Politician of the Year category at the prestigious Politician of the Year awards at Edinburgh’s Prestonfield hotel.
A keen boxer and runner, Ritchie, who was last year named chair of the Royal Air Forces Association for Edinburgh, Lothian and Borders and is an Army reservist.
He is listed on his Linkedin page as being employed as a policy officer for Children in Scotland, but according to the charity’s website, no longer works there.
In addition to his council salary of £31,712 a year, Ritchie also earns £2,500 per annum for his non-executive director position at Children’s Hearings Scotland, as well as around £1,000 a year for his work as an army reservist.