A UKIP activist pictured with his faced "blacked up" was using a treatment for acne, one of the party's Holyrood candidates has claimed.

Jack Jardine, who is standing for Ukip in the Mid Scotland and Fife region, claimed Jack Neill had been the victim of "false accusations" of racism.

Ukip's Holyrood election campaign was plunged into chaos last week when pictures of prominent activist Mr Neill emerged showing him with his face blacked up and wearing a clown nose and curly wig.

He explained the personal snaps, some of which were posted on his Facebook page, were "a joke".

Read more: Ukip race row over activist who has fun 'blacking up'

But the pictures were condemned by race equality campaigners.

The University of the West of Scotland, where Mr Neill is a criminal justice student, launched an inquiry into his behaviour.

Responding to calls to sever ties with Mr Neill, a Ukip spokesman said the party would "slap his wrist for being a berk".

But defending Mr Neill, who calls himself "Union Jack" on social media, Mr Jardine said he was "being bullied by the media".

He said: "Although I don't condone any kind of 'blacking up' it was evidently not what was going on in Mr Neill's facebook posts.

"Mr Neill suffers from acne frequently and as a result often wears facial masks to treat his skin."

He said Mr Neill had also been pictured wearing "white and pink facial masks" in the past.

He conceded the pictures, some of which were apparently taken in a shower or bath, were "not the norm".

Read more: Berk, idiot, prat: Ukip gives its verdict on blacked-up activist

"I grant you he has incredibly strange ways of having fun but if it helps his confidence then why shouldn't he?

"Nowhere does he make fun of any race, or make any slanderous comments," he added.

Mr Neill stood for Ukip in Gordon Brown's old constituency of Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath at the General Election last year, finishing in fourth place.

He is not running in the Holyrood election, where Ukip are fielding 26 regional candidates, but was at the party's campaign launch in Edinburgh greeting supporters and handing out copies of the manifesto.

Asked by The Herald to explain the circumstances behind the pictures, he made no mention of acne treatment but said they were taken "for entertainment purposes".

David Coburn, Ukip's Scottish leader and also an MEP, was quizzed about the pictures during a BBC interview at the weekend.

He said Mr Neill had been "extremely stupid," but insisted the issue was one for the party's disciplinary committee.

He told the Sunday Politics Scotland programme: "It ain't in the UKIP manifesto to sit in your bathtub naked, playing the guitar, dressed as a clown.

"UKIP are the most liberal party you can possibly imagine; we're a libertarian party, you can't get more broad-minded than that."

Ukip has suffered previous embarrassments from racist candidates, activists and supporters.

Press spokesman Gawain Towler said last week: "He’s a kid. He’s an idiot. He is pulling silly faces on his Facebook page, sitting in his bathroom with a silly clown nose on. He put a face mask on his face surrounded by bubbles. But it is in no way malicious, no way racist.

"He should be aware of how things look. But this is not malicious in any way. If the University of the West of Scotland wishes to investigate they will find an ordinary student behaving in an ordinary way, in the safe space of his own bathroom.

"He’s a berk. He’s a prat. But does it deserve the caterwauling of the politically correct? "No. We’ll slap his wrist for being a berk but there was no malice in it."