A COUNCILLOR who quit the SNP amid claims he punched someone in the back of a taxi has admitted to having a drink problem.

Lewis Ritchie said he denied all the allegations that have been made against him – but conceded he had caused “harm and upset” to those around him.

It comes as it emerged the former Edinburgh Council planning chief was also facing two sexual harassment claims.

He was suspended by the SNP over allegations he hit another delegate at last year’s party conference in Glasgow.

But he left the Nationalists earlier this week and insisted he would now sit as an independent councillor for Leith Walk.

He told the Edinburgh Evening News: "I deny all the allegations that have been made against me.

"However, I do recognise I have a drink problem and at times this has caused harm and upset to those who care about me and to those I wouldn't want to cause harm.

"I consider representing my local community the greatest honour that anyone can have. I recognise I have a problem but I also believe in redemption.

"With the help and support of friends and family I hope to continue to do what I always wanted to do – to help people and serve my local community."

The SNP said there were two allegations against Mr Ritchie “of a sexual harassment nature”.

A statement from one victim said they had been subjected to “sustained harassment” from the councillor, “despite several attempts to get him to stop”.

They said that it was clear alcohol was a “trigger” for his behaviour.