POLITICS
17/03/2015 20:02 GMT | Updated 17/03/2015 20:59 GMT

Ukip MEP David Coburn Attacks 'Xenophobic' SNP After Being Branded A 'Racist Clown'

Counting in the European elections started at 17:00 on Sunday 25th May. Pictures from the results being announced at the City Chambers, Edinburgh. David Coburn, UKIP lead candidate, keeping in touch as counting finishes around the country. Sunday, 25th May, 2014. Wullie Marr/EMPICS
Wullie Marr/EMPICS Entertainment
Counting in the European elections started at 17:00 on Sunday 25th May. Pictures from the results being announced at the City Chambers, Edinburgh. David Coburn, UKIP lead candidate, keeping in touch as counting finishes around the country. Sunday, 25th May, 2014. Wullie Marr/EMPICS

Ukip MEP David Coburn has defended himself against accusations he is a racist, after he compared a Muslim Scottish National Party minister to a convicted terrorist.

As Coburn was rounded on by a cross-party panel of politicians in London on Tuesday evening for his comments, the Scottish MEP also hit out at the SNP for being "xenophobic" against the English.

Nigel Farage is under pressure to kick Coburn out of Ukip after the MEP made a remark to the Daily Mail about the Scottish government's external affairs minister Humza Yousaf .

"Humza Yousaf, or as I call him, Abu Hamza," Coburn told a reporter from the newspaper.

Farage has said the comment was in "poor taste" but has so far stood by his MEP and said he is not "too exercised" about the row. Yousaf has asked officials in Brussels to investigate Coburn.

Challenged on his comments at a debate hosted by the Church of Scotland in London last night, Coburn said: "It was a very stupid joke which I made. Quite frankly I shouldn't have said it and I apologised immediately to Mr Yusuf."

"I am human, I make errors," he said. "People in Ukip, we are not professional politicians. We are human, we make errors."

Pressed further by SNP MP Pete Wishart, Coburn said he would not take the criticism from a party that was "xenophobic against the English".

Wishart, said he was disappointed Coburn was "still a feature of Scottish political life after his appalling, racist comment about our minister in Scotland". And during feisty exchanges, Wishart branded the Ukip MEP a "racist clown".

He added: "He compared him to a convicted terrorist solely and only because the minister is a Muslim. that is symptomatic of this party and how they conduct their business. I plead to you this evening vote for anybody, anybody other than this racist party."

Labour's shadow Scotland secretary Margaret Curran attacked Coburn and said comments like his led to "institutional racism".

"What David Coburn said is not acceptable, he is not a proper representative of Scotland," she said. "If Ukip think he is good enough to be a candidate here tonight, I think that speaks to Nigel Farage's leadership."

Scottish Lib Dem peer Jeremy Purvis, who was also on the panel, said there was a "racist edge" to Ukip. Coburn noted the bowl of smarties on the table between him and Purvis joked that the Lib Dem "hasn't offered me one".