‘Disgraceful!’ Sturgeon condemned for backing ‘vigilante’ Blackford in Covid bullying row

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Nationalist MP Ian Blackford was heavily criticised after he posted a tweet questioning whether an English photographer should be taking pictures in Scotland. Mr Blackford appeared to wrongly believe Mr Taylor had broken lockdown rules when he shared an image of the Aurora Borealis from Caithness.

He tweeted: “As you live in the south of England and travel to Scotland is only for permitted reasons I am sure there will be a valid reason as to why you are posting a photo from the north of Scotland last night?” 

Although Mr Taylor had previously lived and worked in England, he moved to the Highlands earlier this year, and the images were taken five minutes from his house.

Mr Blackford later deleted the tweet and apologised after he was labelled a “bully” and accused of fuelling anti-English sentiment. 

At Holyrood this afternoon, Lib Dem MSP Alex Hamilton hit out at “vigilante action” and asked Ms Sturgeon about the comments. 

He said: “The balance and proportionate enforcement of travel restriction by Police Scotland is vital to ensuring compliance with them – that duty is theirs and theirs alone.

“But the First Minister will have seen the disgraceful tweet from Ian Blackford to his 100,000 followers last night singling out and bullying a private citizen who had relocated here from England.

“Does she support vigilante action from her MPs like this and what steps did she take to address Mr Blackford’s behaviour?”

Ms Sturgeon replied: “On the first point, I suspect people watching have a myriad of things that they want to hear addressed in this parliament, and hopefully will do during the course of this session. I’m not sure that that would have been at the top of the list.

She added: “I also saw Ian Blackford apologise for doing something that he recognises he shouldn’t have done on Twitter. And I think that’s the right thing, when people get something wrong is to readily apologise for it. And i think that’s the grace and dignity that I associate with Ian Blackford every single day of the week.”

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But Scottish Tory MSP Annie Wells later said: “It’s pretty cowardly that the First Minister didn’t do the right thing this afternoon and call out the SNP’s Westminster Leader for harassing a private citizen.

 “Ian Blackford should be ashamed of himself. He purposely went after an individual who simply wanted to share a lovely photo on Twitter for people to enjoy. 

“I’m afraid it is the same old story with the SNP – stoke up division, and when challenged, simply hold up their hands feigning innocence. It is pathetic.”

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