FIRST Minister Alex Salmond is facing embarrassment over an SNP candidate who posted offensive comments about Catholic nurses and the area in which he is standing as a council candidate in next month's elections.

Local Labour MP Frank Roy has written to the SNP leader to question whether he will support Lyall Duff's bid to win a seat on North Lanarkshire council.

Mr Duff has described Roman Catholic midwives as "money-grabbing old witches", urged people to burn branches of the RBS and made racist remarks about French people.

The comments also include inflammatory remarks about Jews, Muslims, the Falklands and Lanarkshire – where he is standing as an SNP candidate in the council's Murdostoun ward.

Mr Duff has admitted to posting some of the comments under his internet alias "Auld Nick", but insisted he would not delete any posts.

He added: "I do get bothered with issues I feel strongly about but don't we all?"

In his letter to Mr Salmond, Mr Roy said: "The longer you provide him with your political protection, the more it looks like you are uninterested in actually dealing with the issue."

An SNP spokeswoman said: "It would be inappropriate to comment further until the disciplinary process reaches its conclusion."