Ruth Davidson defends MP Douglas Ross over gypsy comments

Douglas Ross, MP for Moray garnered criticism for his comment on Travellers. Picture: TSPL
Douglas Ross, MP for Moray garnered criticism for his comment on Travellers. Picture: TSPL
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Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has come to the defence of one of her MPs after he was criticised for claiming that ‘tough action’ against gypsy-travellers would be his top priority if he was Prime Minister.

Douglas Ross, who won the seat of Moray from SNP Deputy leader Angus Robertson in June, was asked by Core Politics a series of introductory questions for their ‘meet the new MPs’ video.

He was criticised by politicians and charities, but today Ms Davidson insisted that he was merely reflecting local concerns about unauthorised traveller sites in his constituency.

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Mr Ross, who is also a high-ranking football referee with the SFA, has since apologised for his answer, saying he regretted not being able to provide context for it due to the quick-fire nature of the interview.

Ms Davidson told the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme: “What he was saying - and he clarified immediately because he was in a quick-fire situation, he wasn’t able to supplement what he was saying - he as a nine-year councillor, before he became an MSP, before he became an MP, he had had significant issues in his local area of illegal encampments.”

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SNP MSP Christina McKelvie hit back, saying: “Apparently prejudice against gypsy travellers is nothing new for Tory MP Douglas Ross.

“For nearly ten years – as a councillor, MSP and now an MP – he’s been spouting hateful abuse against one of Scotland’s most marginalised communities. And it now appears he’s been called out before for his discriminatory language. It’s clear his latest comments weren’t just a slip of the tongue.”