THE SNP is re-running its Holyrood candidate selection in Renfrewshire South after the first choice was suspended over alleged homophobic comments about a government minister.

Councillor Andy Doig resigned as the candidate in the marginal Labour seat on Thursday, just a week after winning a five-way fight to be the SNP’s contender next May.

His exit was prompted by the emergence of an ostensibly “humorous” email he wrote in July.

Although it has not been made public, the Sunday Herald understands it allegedly refers in crude sexual terms to a female SNP activist.

There is also said to be an allusion to transport minister Derek Mackay, who in 2013 separated from his wife after telling his friends and family he was gay.

Sources familiar with the email said the language was “very misogynistic” and “nasty”. One senior party source said of Doig: “Hell mend him.”

Another SNP insider added: “It’s positive thing that the party won’t put up with this nonsense.”

Doig, 53, an SNP member for 36 years, has claimed the email was a “spoof press release” intended as a private joke to two friends.

The former depute leader of the SNP on Renfrewshire Council, Doig now faces a party disciplinary hearing at which he hopes to have his membership restored. He fought the Westminster seat of Paisley and Renfrewshire South in 2005 and 2010, and came 2,587 votes behind Labour’s Hugh Henry in Renfrewshire South in 2011.

Before his suspension, Doig’s candidacy was endorsed by two of the party’s rising stars, Paisley MP Mhairi Black and East Renfrewshire MP Kirsten Oswald.

Doig said he had received numerous messages of support and been urged to run as an Independent next year, but had decided not to go against the party.

“I want to fight to clear my name and get back into the party that I love,” he said. He refused to comment on the leaked email, but did not deny it referred to Mackay.

An SNP spokeswoman said: “Nominations to select a candidate opened on Friday and will close on October 2.”