Amran Hussain, who stood for North East Hampshire constituency, was holidaying at a neighbouring hotel in the coastal town of Sousse when a gunman opened fire on a private beach, killing 38 and wounding 39.
Hussain was pictured visiting the scene and posing with a selfie stick, sparking a backlash from those who variously described the act “insensitive" and "shameless.”
Labour candidate Amran Hussain needs to shove his selfie stick up his arsehole.— Ali (@notmuchtosee83) June 28, 2015
Conservative supporter Katie Hopkins could not resist a dig either...
When I see Labour candidates being this cretinous, I feel strangely relieved Moribund was so utterly out of touch pic.twitter.com/jfXD8SlOa9— Katie Hopkins (@KTHopkins) June 29, 2015
Hussain has responded to the criticism in a lengthy post on Facebook in which he insisted he had visited the scene to pay his respects, deliver flowers and pray for the victims.
He claimed to be “disheartened” by members of the press for chosing to “only publish one image from the 30 minutes we were there and neglected to note additionally that we were there as survivors and in remembrance of victims and in support of Tunisia.”
He continued: “This is a very distressing life event for all those involved and this sort of press serves only to cause more distress.”
Describing himself as “profoundly hurt by some horrific comments that have come as a result from this media,” Hussain signed off: “I apologise from the bottom of my heart to anyone who may have been offended by previous reports in the media relating to this tragedy. Clearly no offence but only true and great respect was intended.”
[Scroll down for Hussain’s full Facebook post.]
The British death toll stands at 15 but Home Secretary Theresa May said the figure was expected to rise as more information comes out. Three Irish people are also among the dead.
The Foreign Office has updated its travel advice to warn that further terrorist attacks in Tunisia are possible and urged people to be vigilant.
Thousands of British tourists have been returning to the UK following the attack by Kalashnikov-wielding student Seifeddine Rezgui.
His killing spree targeted western tourists on the beach at the RIU Imperial Marhaba and the RIU Bellevue and only ended when he was shot dead by police. A bomb was found on his body.
Hussain's Facebook post in full:
"Having been so close to the site of the attacks in Tunisia on Friday, my party and I are still recovering from the shock – we were staying in the adjacent hotel from where the beach massacre took place. We heard from fellow guests that the gunman was stopped from entering our hotel only by the brave staff, who formed a human shield, putting guests lives above their own. One of our party, a dear friend, is incredibly traumatised, having witnessed the attack from a balcony where the beach could be seen. Our flight back was scheduled for the day after, leaving us with quite possibly some of the most horrific 24 hours of our lives. The pictures below show the measures we took to ensure our safety and escape plan if there were to be further attacks.
"On Saturday morning we went to show our respects to all the innocent people who lost their lives. My friends and I walked silently from our hotel to the site with a bouquet of flowers, where together we laid them down with others’ tributes, then held hands and took a moment to pray for all those who fell victim to the terrorist attack, their loves ones, and all those who may be affected. We also prayed for all the locals and their families who will likely be badly affected by the lack of tourism for the foreseeable future, we wished them all the best. We took a few pictures to share with the world to show that we care about and love the country and its people, and that we did go out to the site to show solidarity and support, and in defiance to the terrorists.
"As you can see we took photos and posted them, for many reasons, to remember, to show those at home that their loved ones were being remembered, and to show the Tunisian people we care for them and we will be forever indebted to them risking their lives to save ours.
"I am disheartened to see that some members of the press, although having recorded all of this by video and photograph, chose to only publish one image from the 30 minutes we were there and neglected to note additionally that we were there as survivors and in remembrance of victims and in support of Tunisia. This is a very distressing life event for all those involved, and this sort of press serves only to cause more distress.
"I feel it is a shame that the media have such control and power over what is communicated to the world, and that often it may not be the whole truth. I obviously have no say in what is communicated, but I can ask that the readers of such media can be compassionate to our situation and understanding in the wake of this great tragedy. I am profoundly hurt by some horrific comments that have come as a result from this media.
"I made a pledge on the site that morning that I will keep my hotel wristband forever in remembrance of all those lives that perished on Friday, and am still wearing it now. All my life I care for others and aim to help others.
Witnessing this attack so close up has only strengthened my resolve to fight for justice everywhere and fight against injustice anywhere. My prayers and thoughts shall remain with all those affected throughout my life.
I apologise from the bottom of my heart to anyone who may have been offended by previous reports in the media relating to this tragedy. Clearly no offence but only true and great respect was intended."