The number one candidate on Change UK's list in Scotland has become the second person to be dropped over offensive Tweets within 24 hours of the party's campaign launch.

Joseph Russo has come under fire for a series of now-deleted Twitter posts, including one which read: "Black women scare me. I put this down to be chased through Amsterdam by a crazy black wh***".

With remarks dating back to 2012, the European election hopeful tweeted said the arrest of Gary Glitter over historic child sex offences "smack of the police targeting low hanging fruit." 

Mr Russo, who is writing a PhD about a Scottish-German paedophile, had tried to hide his tweets by locking his Twitter account after being named as a candidate on Wednesday.

However some of his previous posts were unearthed by freelance journalist Alasdair Clark working for the Red Robin website.

Mr Russo said he was standing down “in the interests of my mental health”.

Read more: Rachel Johnson to stand as European election candidate for Change UK

Change UK was set up as a new party by the former Labour and Tory MPs of the Independent Group at Westminster.

It is standing in the EU elections on May 23 on a platform of a People’s Vote on Brexit.

Mr Russo was ranked at the top of the six-person Scotland-wide list, meaning he was in the prime position to become an MEP if Change UK wins more than 10 per cent of the vote.  

The Glasgow University website says he is a PhD candidate researching the Greenock-born German/Scottish author and anarchist John Henry Mackay, who died in 1933.

Mackay wrote a series of books in German advocating sex between men and boys called the Books of the Nameless Love, including one called The Boy-Doll.

Mr Russo’s webpage describes this as Mackay’s desire for “pederastic emancipation”.

In April 2012, Mr Russo wrote on Twitter: “Black women scare me. I put this down to be chased through Amsterdam by a crazy black wh***”.

In 2013, he also posted an obscene tweet using the word “c***” about female genitalia and another saying “Dominoes is owned by a loony catholic”.

He was also been critical of one of the Independent Group’s most prominent MPs, former Tory Anna Soubry, who he said “looks just like a Thatcher 2.0” in 2015.

Read more: Change UK: Who are they and how are they linked to the Independent Group ?

In a series of tweets posted on Thursday morning, Mr Russo said: “I have not stood for elected office before. Though it was a privilege to have been selected for @TheIndGroup, I have found the last 24hrs exhausting and was not fully prepared for the level of personal scrutiny I'd be under.

"As a result, and in the interests of my mental health I have decided not to proceed with my candidacy. I wish the remaining ChangeUK candidates the best of luck in their bid to change politics and ensure Scotland has a stong pro-remain voice in the European Parliament."

In a statement, a spokesperson for Change UK said: "We have been made aware of several offensive Twitter posts. We have discussed this with Joseph Russo and it has been agreed that he will stand down and is no longer on our list of candidates."

This is the second humilation for Change UK who have lost two candidates less than 24 hours after launching their European election campaign.

The party were yesterday forced to ditch London candidate Ali Sadjay after he was accused of “hate speech”.

A 2017 tweet from the MMA fighter was uncovered in which he wrote: “When I hear that 70% of pick pockets caught on the London Underground are Romanian it kind makes me want Brexit.”