A SCOTTISH Tory council candidate launched a petition saying Syrian refugees should not be welcomed into the UK, The National can reveal.

Judy Lockhart-Hunter, a candidate in the North Berwick Coastal ward of East Lothian, started the controversial poll entitled "#WeHaveNoRoom in Scotland" in 2015 during the Syrian refugee crisis.

The petition intended for former Prime Minister David Cameron displayed a large image of a Union flag with the slogan “Veterans Before Migrants” and a blurb stating how refugees “would be far better placed going to another Islamic country where they can fit in easier”.

It also speculated that some refugees could be dangerous, as Lockhart-Hunter suggested Daesh intended to send soldiers to the west posing as asylum seekers. She insisted the UK should be “safeguarding government money for those who pay into the system”.

Lockhart-Hunter, who was born and raised in the ward, is also the chairperson of North Berwick Community Council.

The SNP have accused her of showing “less compassion than Boris Johnson and Priti Patel”.  

Lockhart-Hunter’s description of the petition stated: “A few months ago, the SNP were preaching to the country that we had a food bank crisis coupled with a chronic problem with a lack of social housing.

“We need to fix our own country before we start letting others in.

“The Syrian refugees would be far better placed going to another Islamic country where they can culturally fit in so much easier. Many of these countries are also far easier for them to reach.

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“We also do not have any way of telling whether a refugee is in fact that and without these checks we are setting ourselves up for allowing some very dangerous people into the country.

The National: The image used in Lockhart-Hunter's petitionThe image used in Lockhart-Hunter's petition

A screenshot of the graphic on the petition

“It has been stated months ago that ISIS intends to send soldiers to the West posing as refugees. Is it really worth the risk?! Scotland and the rest of the UK should […] ensure that government money is safeguarded for those who pay into the system.”

The petition has now been closed after attracting just nine signatures and Lockhart-Hunter has apologised saying it “doesn’t reflect my feelings today”.  

More than a million migrants and refugees - mostly Syrians fleeing conflict - came to Europe to seek asylum in 2015 sparking a crisis as countries struggled to cope with the influx.

The UK Government set up the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Programme to resettle up to 20,000 people from the Syrian region.

SNP spokesperson on immigration Anne McLaughlin slammed the "ignorant" petition

Anne McLaughlin, SNP MP and the party’s spokesperson on immigration, said: “It seems even Boris Johnson and Priti Patel, neither normally noted for their compassion towards anyone, have more compassion than Ms Lockhart-Hunter because they at least put in place a resettlement scheme for Syrians which is more than they’ve done for most other countries where people are fleeing and need our help.

“And if she’d bothered to investigate at all she would know that whether it’s Christian Syrians, Muslim Syrians or neither, they have already managed to settle into communities right across Scotland and, as always, they have brought something positive to their new homes.

“This nonsense about moving Syrians to countries closer by also demonstrates a complete ignorance because that is already what happens.

“I agree we need to do something about the poverty in this country and that is the plan when we win our independence.”

Paul McLennan, North Berwick’s SNP MSP, added: “I am deeply disturbed, although not surprised, to learn of this anti-refugee petition started by Tory council candidate, Judy Lockhart-Hunter. The petition is despicable and the language used is appalling.  

“Sadly though, Ms Lockhart-Hunter’s views are in keeping with the Tory party – a party which has a track record of pushing inhumane and morally bankrupt immigration policies, as we have seen evidence of today with the Tories plans to send asylum seekers to Rwanda.

“Scotland remains a place that welcomes refugees with open arms and I am grateful we have a Scottish Government that echoes this view.

“I truly hope Judy has had an opportunity to reflect on those words and will join the efforts from people across Scotland in welcoming those fleeing for their lives.”

The revelations come amid fury over Conservative plans to send asylum seekers to Rwanda for processing as Johnson plans to bring the number of people crossing the English Channel “illegally” down to zero.

The pilot scheme will see single men or women arriving in Britain given a one-way ticket to the East African country where they will await their asylum claims to be processed. 

An SNP spokesperson added: "These attitudes and behaviours towards refugees are deeply sad and concerning to see.

"The SNP will always stand ready to provide safety to those seeking refuge and safety.

"Unfortunately, it is not hard to believe the Tory party tolerates such inhumane beliefs, especially when they have now unveiled their cruel plans to send asylum seekers to Rwanda."

Lockhart-Hunter said: "This petition, from many years ago, was a mistake. I'm sorry to anyone who is offended by the sentiments in it.

“My language was not right and doesn't reflect my feelings today. Refugees from Ukraine, Syria and elsewhere are very welcome in Scotland."

A Scottish Conservative spokesman said: “The candidate has apologised and we have accepted that apology."