Ruth Davidson defends Douglas Ross over Gypsy Traveller remarks
Ruth Davidson - Holyrood
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has defended Moray MP Douglas Ross over comments he made about gypsy travellers.
Ross faced criticism after telling the Core Politics website that “tougher enforcement” against the minority group would be his first priority if he was prime minister for the day.
He later qualified the comment by saying illegal and unauthorised encampments by Gypsy Travellers was a “significant problem” in his constituency, where roadside camps were a “blight on our community”.
The Scottish Football Association, for which Ross works as a match official, is understood to have launched an investigation into the remarks.
Amnesty International also called on the MP to apologise.
However, Davidson has insisted the comments reflect his qualities as a local MP, drawing on his experience as a local councillor.
In an interview with BBC Radio Scotland she said: “I know that Douglas Ross, as a hard-working councillor in Moray, an MSP and an MP, has worked really hard with his constituents about an issue that is particular to his area regarding illegal encampments.
“This is a response to a particular local issue. This is him acting as a local representative, reflecting some of the concerns of his local community, which have been acute in Moray.”
Davidson also defended the reinstatement of two councillors who had been suspended from the party after posting sectarian and racist comments on twitter.
Stirling councillors Alastair Majury and Robert Davies apologised and were allowed back into the Conservative party.
"They have apologised. They have apologised to anybody that was offended by the comments that they made,” said Davidson.
“They've also gone for diversity training, because I want to change their behaviour…and on top of that, they're in talks with an anti-Semitic charity called Show Racism The Red Card, because they want to be able to change their behaviour.”
Scottish Labour's inequalities spokesperson Monica Lennon MSP condemned Davidson's reaction.
“Not content with just defending racist councillors, Ruth Davidson has weighed in to defend attacks on ethnic minorities by her own MPs as well," she said.
“Even Douglas Ross recognised his comments were offensive, but Ruth Davidson still doesn’t seem to think so.
“This whole debacle has only gone to prove once again that the Tories are just the same old nasty party.”