Jim Murphy in war of words with SNP MP

SCOTTISH Secretary Jim Murphy was locked in fiery exchanges with the SNP's Pete Wishart as a session of the Commons Scottish affairs committee descended into a slanging match.

During an inquiry into the Calman Commission, Mr Wishart accused Mr Murphy of issuing anti-SNP press releases through his office.

Mr Wishart said that when Mr Murphy was promoted to Scottish Secretary, "for the first few months you came across as consensual. In the last few months, the mask has started to slip".

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Since then, Mr Murphy had displayed "relentless negativity" towards the Scottish Government, Mr Wishart said.

The minister hit back and demanded Mr Wishart withdraw the accusation that he had issued anti-SNP press releases through his department, but the Nationalist MP refused.

The Scottish Secretary added that if his messages annoyed Mr Wishart, he should "just turn the telly off".

He said that after a few weeks in the job, the SNP had called for his resignation, adding: "It was news to me that you thought I was being Mr Reasonable for the first few months."

Mr Murphy said the SNP was "obsessed" with him and always calling for him to be sacked.

The row came a day after First Minister Alex Salmond promised better co-operation between Westminster and Holyrood.

Shadow Scottish secretary David Mundell said that within 24 hours,

"we have Pete Wishart reverting to irresponsible and unprofessional bickering".