A council candidate suspended by the SNP for apparently describing two Catholic midwives who refused to carry out abortions as "money-grabbing old witches" has resigned from the party.

North Lanarkshire Council candidate Lyall Duff, who is standing in the Murdostoun ward, has been accused of distributing foul-mouthed and offensive comments on the internet.

An SNP spokesman said Mr Duff had tendered his resignation this afternoon, ending the party's disciplinary process.

The party said the comments, allegedly made on social networking site Facebook, were "totally unacceptable".

The spokesman said: "Lyall Duff has informed the party that he has resigned his membership of the SNP, which therefore ends the party's disciplinary process.

"While it remains the case that Mr Duff's name cannot legally be removed from the ballot paper, he is not an SNP candidate and we do not support his candidacy in any way.

"We are asking voters in Murdostoun to re-elect the sole SNP candidate John Taggart on May 3."

The comments attributed to Mr Duff included an attack on midwives Mary Doogan, 57, and Concepta Wood, 51, who lost a legal bid against NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde over their refusal to delegate, supervise and support staff taking part in abortions or provide care to patients during the process.

The comments stated: "The news reckon this case will affect the NHS UK wide, too f***n right it should, sack the money-grabbing old witches and make them pay back every penny they earned in disgust doing their career choice."

There was also an attack on RBS and its former chief executive Fred Goodwin as well as the French.