AN SNP Holyrood candidate has been urged to cut his ties to a councillor at the centre of a row over sexism and homophobia.

Tom Arthur, who is standing in Renfrewshire South in May, is under pressure to shun controversial activist Andy Doig.

Doig, a councillor, was suspended by the SNP last year shortly after being selected as the candidate for the same seat when it emerged he sent a “spoof press release” to party colleagues containing sexist and homophobic comments.

In it, Doig described a female SNP activist as “seriously stacked” and said he “would like to get seriously lost somewhere around her mid torso”.

Doig also said gay Transport Minister Derek Mackay, a Renfrewshire MSP, wanted Arthur “in his inner circle” and advised Arthur “to guard his inner circle closely”.

Doig likened a third SNP activist to “a Jack Russell with toothache” and described gender balance as a “Leninist irrelevancy”.

After the material was sent to SNP headquarters, Doig quit as a candidate in September.

Arthur, a musician and former leader of the SNP youth wing, was chosen as the new candidate for Renfrewshire South in November.

Although the SNP lifted Doig’s suspension this month, he had been expected to keep a low profile after the sleazy episode.

But to the astonishment of some SNP activists, Doig was part of the public launch of the Renfrew South campaign last weekend in Johnstone.

Arthur posted pictures of the event online showing Doig standing close behind him.

“Delighted to be joined by local MPs, Cllrs and activists for the #teamRenSouth campaign launch!” Arthur wrote next to the photograph.

East Renfrewshire MP Kirsten Oswald and Paisley MP Gavin Newlands also took part.

An SNP source said Doig was “Marmite” and Arthur had been warned to stay clear of him.

“I’m worried about this character [Doig] and his ongoing attitude,” the source said.

Renfrewshire South was won in 2011 by Labour’s Hugh Henry with a 2,587-vote majority.

Henry is retiring, and the new Labour candidate is Renfrewshire Councillor Paul O’Kane.

O’Kane said: “I was extremely surprised to see Cllr Doig at the SNP campaign launch in Johnstone beside candidate Tom Arthur and MPs Gavin Newlands and Kirsten Oswald.

“Councillor Doig was removed as the SNP candidate for Renfrewshire South last year and was suspended by the SNP for alleged homophobic and misogynistic comments in an email.

“Tom Arthur must explain why he was present and say whether he supports Cllr Doig's statement that his comments were ‘humorous’.

“Homophobia is not funny and along with misogyny and other forms of hatred it has no place in our community. Everyone has a duty to speak out against such discrimination, especially those in politics and public life.”

Arthur refused to comment.

An SNP spokesman said: “Cllr Doig’s suspension from the SNP expired on 3 January, so he rejoins the SNP Group on Renfrewshire Council and can resume activity for his local branch.”

Doig did not respond to a request for comment.