THE SNP has chosen a candidate who quit the party and then stood against it as an independent in a bid to win a council byelection mired in scandal.

The party selected civil engineer Joe Budd to represent it in the Bellshill byelection in North Lanarkshire.

The contest was triggered by the resignation of disgraced former council leader Jordan Linden over allegations of sexual misconduct, which he denied.

In March 2021, Mr Budd stood against the SNP in the Thorniewood byelection in North Lanarkshire, which was triggered by the SNP’s Steven Bonnar resigning after being elected an MP.

Mr Budd came third with 518 votes, or 18.9% of the vote, and Labour gained the seat from the SNP.

Speaking ahead of that contest, Mr Budd told the North Lanarkshire Live webcast: “A lot of people don’t believe in the SNP, they don’t believe in independence.

“Personally, I’m an independence supporter, but I don’t agree with all the SNP’s policies.

“I was previously a member but there was just too much that I couldn’t agree with to stay as a member. So we need more independent candidates representing this area.”

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Mr Budd is one of ten candidates contesting the June 15 byelection alongside Anne McCrory for Labour, Colin Cameron for the Tories, John Cole for the Liberal Democrats, John Marshall for Alba, and Rosemary McGowan for the Scottish Greens. 

There are also UKIP, British Unionist, Scottish Family Party and Free Alliance candidates.

The byelection comes as the SNP opposition group in North Lanarkshire is in disarray as a result of the Linden affair and years of internal friction.

At last year’s local elections, the SNP gained control of North Lanarkshire from Labour and Cllr Linden became its £45,000-a-year leader.

But he quit within weeks after allegations of sexual misconduct were made against him.

He admitted causing a teenage boy “a sense of discomfort which I entirely regret” in 2019.

His exit led to Labour retaking control of the council, and in March this year Linden finally quit as a councillor after more sex pest claims against him, which he again denied.

"My resignation is due to the extreme impact all of this is having on my life,” he said. 

Last year, eight SNP councillors raised concerns about the local and national party’s handling of complaints against Linden, and were subsequently sanctioned.

Accused of bringing the party into disrepute, two of the group were expelled and five suspended for six months last week, leading all to resign from the SNP.

An SNP spokesperson said: “Joe is well-known in the constituency as a willing volunteer and the local branch are happy to get behind him.”