SCOTTISH Tory MSPs have taken aim at the SNP’s candidate in an upcoming council by-election, claiming he is “desperately deleting offensive tweets” ahead of the vote.

Joseph Budd is the SNP’s pick to run for a seat in the North Lanarkshire ward of Bellshill, made vacant after former council leader Jordan Linden resigned amid a storm of sexual harassment allegations.

Budd, a civil engineer who formerly ran against the SNP as an independent in a North Lanarkshire by-election in March 2021, campaigned alongside First Minister Humza Yousaf in the area on Saturday.

READ MORE: Police probe former SNP council boss over sexual assault allegations

Yousaf praised Budd as a “great local candidate”, but Tory MSPs have raised historic tweets that they claim were "offensive". 

The SNP candidate said he accepted they were a "poor attempt at humour". 

Meghan Gallacher, the Scottish Tories depute leader who has been campaigning for her party’s candidate in the by-election, Colin Cameron, shared one example on Twitter.

The 2021 tweet from Budd, which has since been deleted, read: “Every time I see someone who lives in England dishing out their opinion on Scottish matters that have nothing to do with them. Oh and yoons who live here but hate it.”

The words were accompanied by a graphic titled “what to do with your opinion”, above what appeared to be a slightly edited version of medical instructions on how to take a suppository.

Tory MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston also shared that tweet, and another from 2012 in which Budd had written: “I’m pretty sure I’m not racist or sectarian as I just have every c**t!! #arsehole”.

Halcro Johnston commented: “The SNP candidate for #Bellshill, [Budd], appears to be desperately deleting offensive tweets. No apology though.

“He mention this to you yesterday, @HumzaYousaf?”

And Tory councillor Andrew Morrison wrote: “The SNP’s candidate for the Bellshill by-election looks like a real charmer.

“So much for ‘New Scots’ and civic nationalism. Clearly doesn’t apply to the English, including the ranks of English ex-pats who sign up to participate in public life in their new home.”

Budd said he had "deleted these tweets from several years ago, which I accept were a poor attempt at humour".

The by-election in Bellshill will be held on June 15. Budd is one of ten candidates in the running.

READ MORE: Mass resignations 'could have been avoided' in 'beyond toxic' council if SNP listened

As well as the Tory candidate Cameron, Anne McCrory is running for Labour – the group which currently controls the council and the party seen as the favourite to win the vacant seat.

John Marshall is running for Alba and Rosemary McGowan for the Scottish Greens, while the LibDems, UKIP, British Unionist Party, Scottish Family Party and Free Alliance are also fielding candidates.

The by-election was triggered after the SNP’s Linden resigned as a councillor in March. It was revealed over the weekend that police are investigating allegations of sexual harassment made against the former group leader.

Linden has strongly denied any wrongdoing.