A SCOTTISH activist who travelled to Israel on a parliamentary fact-finding mission has been banned from the country for 10 years over his campaign for Palestinian rights.

Convener of the SNP Friends of Palestine group formed earlier this year, Andy Murray arrived at Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv on Monday.

He was detained at passport control, interrogated, strip-searched and swabbed for explosives before being taken to a cell and later deported back to the UK.

Murray, a full-time dad from Glasgow, says Israeli security services expected his arrival and held a file on him, questioning him about friends and family and accusing him of being an “enemy of Israel”.

Now back in Scotland, he told The National he was denied information and access to help from the British Embassy and told: “You have no rights in this country.”

The 44-year-old said: “I felt like the dirt on someone’s shoe. I have never felt that way in my life.

“I feel awful for thinking it, but at the time I just thought thank god they are not treating me like a Palestinian. I don’t know if I could have handled it.”

Murray was part of a group set to visit Palestine as part of a fact-finding trip and has declined to identify other individuals or the non-governmental organisation involved to protect their identities.

Detained on Monday, he was deported to Luton before having to pay for coach travel back to social worker wife Tracey, eight-year-old son Michael and daughter Grace, four.

He said: “I wasn’t emotional until I saw my two kids and realised how much I had missed them.

“Being friends with Palestine doesn’t mean we are an enemy of Israel – far from it. It’s just that Palestine needs all the friends it can get.”

Murray believes his detention was sparked by a meeting at the SNP conference when “someone from the Israeli Embassy” took his business card.

He said: “I made it as far as passport control. They expected me.

“From what I can gather, they had a file on me. I was interrogated very deeply and very personally. They were asking about people I know.

“They had a picture of me taken at a demo in Glasgow last week and a picture of me at SNP conference.

“They mocked the SNP, compared us to the Palestinians, mocked the fact that we lost the referendum, saying ‘what you going to do, rise up and fight the occupiers?’ It was just unbelievable.”

Murray claims he and his clothing and belongings were swabbed for explosives residue twice and that Israeli authorities broke into his locked mobile phone and laptop.

He said officers “sneered” at him and made comments in Hebrew, adding: “I don’t know if I was ever arrested. They had not told me what was happening. They gave me no information.

“When I asked for the embassy, it was a case of ‘look out the window, do you see Big Ben? You are not in Britain now’.

“At that point I realised what I was up against.”

Murray was initially set to be deported on Friday and credits his early release to an intervention by Carol Monaghan MP, who contacted British Embassy staff after Murray got a message to his wife.

He said: “This has redoubled my commitment and my determination to fight for a just settlement for Palestine. It’s solidified every fibre in me that we must be doing something right.

“I’m going to wear my ban as a badge of honour.”

The Israeli Embassy did not respond to a request for comment yesterday.

However, Monaghan said: “This incident raises grave concerns about the relationship between the UK and Israel.

“It seems incredible that a country with which the UK enjoys good relations should treat a UK citizen in such a way. There were no reasonable grounds for his detention and eventual deportation.

“I contacted the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and the UK Embassy in Tel Aviv acted quickly to expedite Andy’s return to the UK. Although there has been a positive outcome, it is worrying that our citizens can be so easily detained and subjected to the harrowing experience that Andy has suffered. I intend to raise the matter further with the Foreign Secretary.”

The National View: Israel’s total silence over campaigner’s detention is real cause for concern