A FORMER Ayrshire MP and a director of Amnesty International will challenge current MSP Kenneth Gibson for the SNP nomination for Cunninghame North in next year’s election.

Corri Wilson, who represented Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock from 2015-2017, announced this week she will seek party member support to stand in the Cunninghame North seat for the Scottish Parliament Elections next May – held by Mr Gibson since 2007.

And she was followed by another challenger, Osama Bhutta, a senior leader at human rights giant Amnesty International who has left his job in order to be able to run for election in Cunninghame North.

Ms Wilson said “I was approached by several local members asking me to consider standing and after careful consideration, I agreed. As a party activist and member for many years I passionately believe in democracy.

“Members should have an input into their party’s direction and have the right to choose who their candidate is. I have always advocated and practised joint working with councillors and activists in Ayrshire for the sake of a stronger voice both at Holyrood and Westminster.”

“Whilst its not easy unseating a sitting MSP, it is right members have a choice. I’m sure if Kenneth has been doing a good job then he will have nothing to fear and will welcome the contest.”

For the last four years, Mr Bhutta has been Amnesty’s global communications director, overseeing their output and working with activists around the world to advance their causes. Before that, he worked in the Middle East during the Arab Spring for broadcaster Al Jazeera and was the SNP’s Glasgow Central candidate in 2010.

He said: “Working on other people’s causes has been incredible, but now I want to come back to my own.

“Amnesty is non-political, so I had to decide between the comfort of staying in my job or throwing my hat in the ring to campaign with the people of Cunninghame North.

“I chose the latter. Now I hope they’ll choose me too.”

Party members will decide in a ballot at the beginning of November.

Gibson hits back: See p19.