By Anne-Marie O'Donnell
A spokesperson for Johann Lamont has come under fire for a second time in a year for posting offensive comments on the social networking site Twitter.
On Sunday, Paul Sinclair was forced to issue an "unqualified apology" hours after he published a sarcastic tweet about cancer and the Scottish independence referendum, which read: "If anybody's doctor tells them they have cancer don't worry…their opinion will change after a yes vote…it's just bluff and bluster."

Mr Sinclair was quickly challenged on his comments by Chief Executive of NHS Scotland Paul Gray, who told him: "This is grossly offensive to cancer sufferers and the medical profession and you should be ashamed of yourself."

Another Twitter user, a cancer sufferer, later asked the aide to Johann Lamont to retract his "offensive tweet", to which Mr Sinclair replied that he was "making a political point", adding: "We may disagree but I wish you a speedy recovery."

Twitter users responded furiously to Mr Sinclair's remarks, many of whom are battling cancer or caring for family members dealing with the illness.  One user wrote:  "I am thoroughly disgusted.  You are a disgrace.  That is all," while another said:  "You really have no shame!  I am utter (sic) dumbfounded anyone in your position could make such a crass statement!"

The incident marks the second time in a year that Mr Sinclair has found himself in hot water over comments made on Twitter.  In July last year, he suggested First Minister Alex Salmond was "an arse" for having his photograph taken with Scottish Open golf tournament winner Phil Mickelson, and later took a swipe at the First Minister's weight.

At the time, Mr Sinclair's comments were quickly picked up by Mandy Rhodes, editor of Holyrood Magazine, who said Johann Lamont would "surely not approve" of her advisor's language.  Following the latest incident, the SNP has called on the Scottish Labour leader to publicly distance herself from Mr Sinclair's comments.

"This was an appalling and tasteless thing to say, and it is incredibly offensive to cancer sufferers, their families and the medical profession," said SNP MSP Aileen McLeod, who sits on the Scottish Parliament's Health Committee.  "Mr Sinclair is the official spokesperson for Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont, and he is paid out of public Scottish Parliament funds.

"There are seven months to go before the referendum, and comments of this nature from the Labour leader's spokesperson cannot be allowed to pass unchallenged - common decency requires some things to be beyond the scope of silly political jibes in the months ahead."

She added: "Johann Lamont employs Mr Sinclair, and he speaks for her in an official capacity.  Therefore, Ms Lamont must make it clear immediately that she dissociates herself from this disgraceful remark, and issue a public apology on behalf of the Labour Party.  It is the only decent and honourable way to draw a line under this regrettable matter."

Despite apologising for the remarks, Mr Sinclair has not removed his tweet.


# fairliered 2014-02-16 20:15
I hope the First Minister raises this at FMQs.
# macgilleleabhar 2014-02-16 20:53
Each time you think they have scraped the bottom of the barrel they find a new low.
That is a despicable comment to make.
If Ms Lamont does not disclaim this comment it brings into question the morality of the whole No campaign.
# bodun 2014-02-17 01:13
However, all the scaremongering of the past week has now been overturned - and from a surprising source:

Scots can keep the pound after all, says Osbourne
# mealer 2014-02-16 20:56
Does Jenny Marra MSP approve of Paul Sinclairs comments?
# HistoryPHD 2014-02-16 21:04
Interesting that Johann hasn't tweeted in over 2 weeks; is she still on holiday, or is she being kept in hiding and training hard for her upcoming STV bout with wee Nicola?

This is the sort of vile comments typical of the Labour bitterati. When hatred of the SNP and Salmond take over all other normal mental faculties seem to be impaired. He has apologised, which is something, but he really needs to take that tweet down. It continues to be offensive as long as it remains.
# johnlove54 2014-02-16 21:25
# independentgirl 2014-02-16 21:59
Lamont won't apologise for his comments. If he is paid out of Scottish Parliament funds, should the Scottish Government not have a say as to his future employment or unemployment!
# Breeks 2014-02-16 22:05
Maybe she should sack him by Twitter.

... But I'm guessing she won't. Sack him that is...
# daveniz 2014-02-17 00:05
Lamont is unbelievable she now argues that voting YES means we are not entitled to the 'Joint Bank Account'!

First things first what joint bank account and secondly when did Scotland get the PIN for this account!

what kind of relationship is it where Westminister gets the pin, Scotland pays in and doesn't get access to it until Westminister decides when and how much we get?
# jjmac 2014-02-17 00:08
I cannot understand how this woman got to the position where she is.
Good god, do they have no one with more political skills than she has.
If i were a no voter i would be very embarrassed indeed.
Couple that with Cameron and Osborne's contributions to the debate and it is no wonder that the undecided are moving to yes.
By the way two friends who were a definite no have now gone to yes.
Thanks very much George Osborne.
# DoricBob 2014-02-17 01:08
Her form on such things to date means she'll say nothing and do nothing.
# blantyreexile 2014-02-17 01:13
Shocking tweet. He'll bluff it out, who in the Scottish media will challenge him on it?
# Macart 2014-02-17 04:16
I don't recall Mr Miliband apologising for either of Davison's offensive gaffs, the infamous doin' or bayonetting furores. Do we really see Lamont offering apology or sanction for Mr Sinclair?

Not really.

I've said it before, not fit for purpose and certainly not fit to represent the Scottish electorate at any level.
# .Scot 2014-02-17 08:50
BBC “bringing you all the news views and ANALYSIS"? have no comment or statement to make. I expect this shocking news is just “not newsworthy" to their wee pretendy Unionist brains?
# Hearthammer 2014-02-19 12:49
Why are we surprised at this? Paul Sinclair is just another Labour purveyor of gutter politics. Another who sees an independent Scotland as the end of his Westminster snout snuffling.

Bring on indy and we can get rid of this lot once and for all!
# call me dave 2014-02-19 13:39
You would think that a person in a political party and subject to public scrutiny might be a bit more savvy.

Shockingly bad taste and says much about that person. Perhaps his higher profile colleague (chief of all things labour in Scotland)might have uttered some words to distance herself from said remarks... NO!

The East Kilbride Revenue & Customs branch of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) today voted “overwhelmingly ” to support a Yes vote in this September’s referendum on Scottish independence.

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