A CANDIDATE for the Honest Lad election has spoken of his disappointment at being disbarred on the eve of the poll.

Michael Morrison, 22, was removed from the ballot at the eleventh hour due to an alleged motoring offence – meaning rival Aidan Maguire stood unopposed.

Aidan Maguire is now this year's Honest Lad, with Claire Dougal being elected Honest Lass.

The evening before the public went to the polls last Friday, Mr Morrison was told he could not stand because of a pending court appearance for allegedly using a car without insurance.

His photo on the Honest Toun’s Association website was taken down and a statement added: “Due to unforeseen circumstances, Michael Morrison is no longer being presented as a candidate for Honest Lad.”

Mr Morrison said he felt that losing his job as a bus driver with East Coast Buses was punishment enough, adding: “I am disappointed as I have been trying to be elected Honest Lad for three years.”

He said he didn’t know he had to tell festival organisers about the alleged pending insurance offence as it was his private life.

His grandfather Andrew Morrison said: “Michael would not have stood three times if he hadn’t wanted to do the job.”

He said Michael had served as an attendant for the past two years, supporting the Honest Lad and Honest Lass in their duties during the Musselburgh Festival and at Border rideouts.

He said: “Most of the people in the Border towns know him and they all like him. He has a huge circle of friends.

“He has been an attendant twice and was prepared to stand again.

“Michael is a great character. This has been a slap in the face.”

Andrew Morrison added that the family had been busy selling membership cards costing £1 which could be used to vote at one of the listed polling stations in the election and “a huge amount” of canvassing had taken place.

He said he went to cast his vote for the Honest Lass and found a line had been scored through his grandson’s name on the printed ballot paper.

A former pupil at Musselburgh Burgh Primary School and Musselburgh Grammar School, Michael had recently gained his bus driving qualifications and is also continuing to work as a security guard.

He originally lived in Carberry and moved to Musselburgh five years ago when his grandfather retired from his candle-making business.

He has been involved in various community activities since his primary school days, having been a member of the Boys’ Brigade, a piper with the Boys’ Brigade band and a member of Musselburgh Rugby Club, playing at club and district level, and has been involved with helping train junior players.

The Honest Toun’s Association told the Courier: “We believe we have acted with integrity with the values of our festival and the position of Honest Lad at our heart.

“We have no further comment to make on the matter other than to wish Michael and his family the very best for the future and thank them for their contribution and support of the festival over many years.

“Our focus will now be on our incoming official party and Musselburgh Festival 2019.”