A TORY council candidate who asked people to ‘like’ a picture on Facebook of the Parachute Regiment on Bloody Sunday has apologised for “misjudgements” and causing offence.

Neill Graham, who is standing in the Paisley Northeast and Ralston ward in Renfrewshire, shared the image from the “Proud to be a Protestant banter group”, the Herald revealed.

The 26-year-old retail manager initially defended his action as supporting the British Army.

“It was nothing in particular to do with Northern Ireland,” he said.

Bloody Sunday saw soldiers shoot 13 people dead on a civil rights march in Derry in 1972.

The 2010 Saville inquiry concluded the killings were both "unjustified" and "unjustifiable".

Mr Graham’s 2014 post contained the phrase “How many likes for the Paras?”

A year earlier, Mr Graham also shared posts from the “Protestant coalition” Facebook group critical of former South African president Nelson Mandela, and joked about attending a conference of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party while on a holiday in Greece.

Mr Graham’s name, former address and current mobile number and alleged status as “activist” appear in a British National Party database leaked on the internet in 2008.

He denied ever being a BNP member or supporter, and suggested his details were misused by the BNP after he signed a petition.

Mr Graham’s campaign accounts on Twitter and Facebook vanished after the Herald’s report.

An SNP spokesman said: "Quite rightly Neill Graham has been forced to apologise. But the over-arching questions remains: are these the kind of attitudes now deemed welcome in Ruth Davidson's Tory party, which is fast becoming's Scotland's Ukip?"

The Scottish Conservatives said Mr Graham remained a candidate but had "apologised for his misjudgements on Facebook and for any offence that he may have caused”.

Meanwhile the Tories criticised SNP MP Pete Wishart for posting a Tweet calling them “absolute total w***”, the LibDems “w***” and Scottish Labour “w***ier”.

MSP Murdo Fraser said: “At the start of this week, Nicola Sturgeon pledged her party would treat opponents with respect. At the end of it, one of her MPs is issuing foul-mouthed tweets. She should consider removing the SNP whip from Mr Wishart immediately.”

The Tories this week suspended Western Isles candidate Ken MacBrayne after it emerged he called Ms Sturgeon a "stupid little cretin" and asked "why can't someone stick a cattle prod up her nether region?"