Nicola Sturgeon accuses Tory candidate of "appalling behaviour" after reports he swore at a school child

Written by Liam Kirkaldy on 15 May 2017 in News

Tory candidate James Heappey said the comments had been intended as a joke

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Nicola Sturgeon - image credit: David Anderson

Nicola Sturgeon has accused Conservative candidate James Heappey of “appalling behaviour” after reports he told a school child to “fuck off back to Scotland” for supporting independence.

Heappey was forced to apologise for the remarks, allegedly made to a girl in a Somerset school after she said she suggested she would vote for independence in a second referendum.

The MP, who is seeking re-election in Wells, Somerset, said the comments had been intended as a joke, saying “I wrote to [the pupil] soon after the school brought her concerns to my attention and apologised unreservedly.”


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But, speaking to journalists during a trip to Lanarkshire today, the First Minister suggested the outburst was symptomatic of a wider problem within the Conservative party.

Sturgeon said: “I think it’s appalling behaviour for any adult to show to any young person, but particularly somebody who has been an MP and is standing for the election again.”

“I think the Tories really have some big questions to answer about the conduct of some of their candidates and elected representatives.”

She added: “I mean here in Scotland we’ve seen the Tories elect councillors, many of whom have been exposed for racist views on social media in the past, sometimes in the not-too distant past. We’ve seen two councillors in Stirling exposed for really outrageous and offensive remarks on social media.

“So I think the Tories have got a real issue here with extremism and really divisive conduct on the part of [their] candidates and elected representatives. I think they’ve got a duty to sort it out.”

Heappey also faced criticism from the local Liberal Democrat candidate, Tessa Munt. She said: “School is meant to be a safe place. We send our children to school in the expectation that they will be treated fairly and with respect by people in positions of power.

“I am utterly shocked that the then MP has used bullying, racist and abusive language to dismiss a teenage schoolgirl engaging in political debate.”

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