THE way the SNP went about creating its candidate list for next month’s European election was worse than a “banana republic”, a member of its ruling body has said.

A leaked email shows members of the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) were told at 10.40pm on a Friday they had just a few hours to pick the candidates.

In a furious message to party clerk Ian McCann and the rest of the NEC, grassroots representative Chris McEleny said he had “serious concerns” about “a process a banana republic would not even endorse”.

The leak shows a list of potential candidates was circulated to NEC members late on April 18 for voting on who should make the shortlist.

The next day, Mr McCann wrote to NEC members at 10.34am saying: “Thanks very much for your input overnight. The ballot to select the three female and three male nominees is now concluded.”

Mr McCann said details of the shortlisting would not be available until midday - after the names were released so SNP conference delegates could rank them in order.

Mr McEleny asked Mr McCann, who oversees “corporate governance and compliance”, why NEC members would not see the detailed results until it was too late to raise any objections or queries.

Key information was not being shared with the NEC “in a transparent manner,” he said.

Mr McEleny went on: “Members of the NEC were given less than 12 hours notice to participate in a poll during the night which started without notice at 2240 hours (a process a banana republic would not even endorse), surely this is not a process that as the party of Government we can be content with?

“There can be no rational explanation whatsoever to justify the process that has just been conducted other than a continuation of the concerns already raised regarding interference intended to influence the process.”

Shortlisted were MEP Alyn Smith, former MSP Christian Allard, former MP Margaret Ferrier, former minister Aileen McLeod, Scottish Borders councillor Heather Anderson and NEC member Alex Kerr, convener of the Glasgow SNP.

Within minutes of the shortlist being confirmed, Mr Kerr was able to post a graphic on social media featuring an endorsement from Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf, a Glasgow MSP.

Mr Kerr wrote: “Delighted to have the endorsement of @HumzaYousaf for my campaign. If you’re a delegate to SNP conference you will get a ballot soon to rank the 6 candidates.”

Asked about his comments and whether the contest should be re-run, Mr McEleny, who failed to get shortlisted, said: “This was a private discussion about an internal matter and I don’t comment on leaks.

“At the upcoming European Elections I’ll be strongly campaigning for a vote for the SNP to protect Scotland’s place in Europe - as an independent country, and we have a strong field of candidates from a range of backgrounds to fight this election for us and I’ll be out campaigning alongside all of them.”

The SNP said: “The NEC unanimously agreed the process by which we are ranking the party’s six candidates for the EU elections.”