THE TORIES have readmitted an Aberdeen councillor suspended last year after the National revealed a history of anti-semitism and islamophobia.
The party said Ryan Houghton had accepted that “what he had done when much younger was wrong”.
But the SNP are calling for more details. They want the Tories to explain “how they feel Cllr Houghton has made amends.”
Last November we uncovered the councillor’s old internet posts where he seemed to suggest that some events around the Nazi regime’s state-sponsored persecution and murder of six million Jews had been “fabricated”.
At the time, the Tory was the party’s candidate for Aberdeen North at the general election.
One holocaust survivor said he felt “sickened” by the posts.
Houghton claimed we had taken his comments out of context.
According to the Press and Journal, the Tories readmitted Houghton last week following a “robust investigation”.
Houghton told the paper: “I apologised at the time and have done so in-person to anyone who has contacted me about the matter.
“The comments which led to my suspension were isolated and took place nearly a decade ago.
“They in no way reflect my political or professional record and I find prejudice of any kind abhorrent.
“I will continue to work and represent my constituents to the best of my ability.”
A Tory spokesman said a committee, headed by Faculty Of Advocate’s Gavin MacColl QC, took into account Houghton’s “unreserved acceptance what he had done when much younger was wrong”, noting he understood the “consequence of his actions”.
He revealed letters were submitted in support of the councillor from “local groups”.
Despite being suspended, Houghton kept his £30,000 a year job as the council administration’s business manager.
Tory group leader Douglas Lumsden said the time taken to readmit Houghton showed “nothing has been brushed under the carpet”.
SNP councillor Michael Hutchison said the Tories needed to share details of how Houghton has made amends: “All political parties have a duty to stand up to antisemitism, Islamophobia and homophobia and be open about how they deal with these.
“That the Tories have tried to sneak this decision out under the cover of a global pandemic is a slap in the face of the communities who were hurt by Cllr Houghton’s comments.
“The party themselves acknowledged that these comments were ‘unacceptable’ and they should be explaining why they no longer feel that is the case or how they feel Cllr Houghton has made amends.
“How can Cllr Houghton show to his constituents, many of whom belong to the Jewish, Muslim and LGBT+ communities he offended, that he has learned why his comments wrong and why they were so hurtful.
“How can he show to his constituents, many of whom belong to the Jewish, Muslim and LGBT+ communities he offended, that he has learned why his comments wrong and why they were so hurtful?”
Writing on a martial arts forum in 2013 under the username Razgriz, Houghton said there is “no credible evidence to suggest the Holocaust did not happen” but that “I do find some of the events fabricated, and exegarated [sic] in some cases.”
He added: “As history is written by the victors there is always going to be a bit of re-writing.”
When another forum user described Irving as a charlatan, Houghton leapt to the defence of the notorious Holocaust denier.
Irving, who has written more than 20 books, has been widely condemned for his sympathetic view of Hitler and for disputing the official account of the Holocaust.
Irving sued author Deborah Lipstadt and her publisher for libel after she wrote that he was a Holocaust denier, he famously lost the case in 2000.
In 2006, Irving was jailed in Austria – where Holocaust denial is a criminal offence – after describing the gas chambers as a “fairytale”.
Houghton said: “A charleton [sic] seems a bit heavy, even his opponent’s recongnised [sic] his skill as a historian.”
He added: “His arguments – in terms of the Holocaust- have been that Hitler was not in the know about Aushwitz, rather as he challenged Deborah Lippstrad to do, show a genuine document linking Adolf Hitler to Auschwitz-Birkenau… No one has yet taken his challenge. (From what I know, im more than willing to be corrected here) “His other main focus was that the gas chamber which you go into as a tourist – if that word can be used in this context- was constructed after WW2.”
He adds that he is “not defending David’s Irving’s views” and that he does not agree with “some of the stuff he says”.
In another post he suggests the members of the martial arts forum start up a debating society.
Some possible topics for discussion, he says, could include, “Britain would of [sic] been better staying out of world war two” and that “the events of WW2 mainly the holocaust have been exaggerated by the victors.”
Houghton, who stopped posting on the forum in 2014, also claimed that the “core teaching” of Islam is the “eventual domination” of the world.
And in a discussion about the boss of Barilla pasta saying he would never do a commercial with a homosexual family, Houghton wrote: “surely if the majority of the population was to become gay then the species would die out, so it would be harmful?
“I know im kind of going to the extreme here but I don’t see how homosexuality is ‘good’ for the human race?”
He later clarified that he had “no problem with anyone’s lifestyle choices” but was just trying “to think of an example when it could be considered bad for the human race.”
Responding to out story, the Labour Peer and Holocaust survivor Alf Dubbs urged the Tories to “face up to their problem with anti-Semitism”.
He said: “As someone who survived the Holocaust, I feel sickened that there will be a Conservative Party candidate on the ballot paper on 12th December who claimed events in the Holocaust were fabricated.
“The Conservatives must face up to their problem with anti-Semitism. Instead of using the issue to score political points, they should challenge it in their own ranks.”
Meanwhile Sayeeda Warsi, a Tory peer, also criticised the comments.
She tweeted: “Another day another @Conservatives found to have a history of bigotry – this time Holocaust denial. Homophobic & Islamophobic comments. It’s a shame this has to be done this way – the Party could have been proactively anti racist rather than being consistently shamed into action.”