The SNP Cunninghame North candidacy battle has taken a dramatic twist as Osama Bhutta has announced that he is suspending his campaign.

Long standing MSP Kenneth Gibson was originally facing a three way fight for the candidacy with Osama, and Corri Wilson. Corri Wilson has indicated that she is staying in the campaign.

SNP MP Patricia Gibson has stated that Mr Bhutta has 'rather theatrically' suspended his campaign - and should have contacted the branch for clarification first over his concerns.

However, Osama made this announcement last night.

He explained: "I am suspending this campaign in protest at rule breaches

"Selection contests are opportunities for parties to have important debates about the future and to get the best people in place to deliver on that.

"For a party which has been in power for 13 years they are important opportunities for renewal.

"When agreeing to stand in Cunninghame North against a longterm incumbent, I knew the task was a huge one. I spent time assessing the lay of the land and received enough support from across the constituency to think it was achievable.

"Office bearers in one of our largest branches last week circulated a motion to all their members in support of the incumbent MSP. This contravenes rules about using member data, using party meetings, and the role of office bearers.

"This behaviour harks back to the bad old days of internal branch stitch-ups. We thought this kind of thing was in the past when the democracy of One Member, One Vote was brought in.

"I lodged a complaint with SNP headquarters about this exactly one week ago. My message and followups have not been acknowledged.

"This puts me in a difficult situation. There is a very short timeframe to this selection contest. 

"As a result, I am suspending my campaign until the party decides whether or not it will implement its rules."

However, MP Patricia Gibson responded via Twitter: "It seems Osama Bhutton has rather theatrically ‘suspended’ his campaign over a motion that was neither presented nor discussed.

"He should have checked his facts or at least had the courtesy to contact the branch for clarification first!"

Corri Wilson said: "I am very sorry to learn that my colleague, Osama Bhutta, has felt it necessary to suspend his nomination campaign.

"I was approached to stand in the Cunninghame North constituency by a large number of SNP party members who wished a positive nomination contest to take place. 

"I am deeply saddened to learn that Mr Bhutta has withdrawn due to the actions of one candidate seeking the nomination. I had looked forward to a respectful and positive selection process that placed the interests of the SNP membership as the priority. I have no doubt that the SNP will address the issues of conduct that have been identified and will ensure that a fair and friendly contest now takes place, with breaches of party selection rules by the incumbent candidate being appropriately addressed."