Douglas Ross's conduct at Queen's memorial service 'extraordinarily petty'

Douglas Ross's conduct at Queen's memorial service 'extraordinarily petty'
Douglas Ross's conduct at Queen's memorial service 'extraordinarily petty'

DOUGLAS Ross has been accused of “extraordinarily petty” behaviour after whinging about the seating and a smudge on his order of service at a memorial service for the Queen.

The Scottish Tory leader griped about Scottish Green co-leader Lorna Slater sitting closer to Nicola Sturgeon and Liz Truss than him at St Giles’ Cathedral last month.

It led to the leaders rearranging themselves in order of party size at Holyrood.

Mr Ross then reportedly asked to swap his stained copy of the order of service with Ms Slater’s as she was a republican - the Green minister obliged.

A source said Mr Ross’s lack of personal confidence meant he was obsessed with “status”.

The insight into the would-be First Minister’s character comes as Mr Ross faces growing criticism from within his own ranks at Holyrood over his judgment.

The Moray MP is due to appear on the main stage at the UK Tory conference in Birmingham tomorrow afternoon, before giving his keynote speech at a Scottish fringe event on Monday.

The newly-revealed events took place in Edinburgh on September 12, as all the Holyrood party leaders, the Prime Minister and civic leaders gathered for a Service of Reflection.

It followed the Queen’s coffin leaving the Palace of Holyroodhouse to lie in state at St Giles’.

King Charles and the Queen’s other children walked behind the cortege up the Royal Mile.

The King later addressed the Scottish Parliament, where he was introduced to Mr Ross.

NQ

Speaking to a motion of condolence, Mr Ross told the monarch solemnly that his mother was a beloved symbol of sacrifice, wisdom and long service in the nation’s interests.

“Today, we feel the pain of her loss so strongly with our new King and the entire royal family. As they grieve on a personal level, we join them in mourning as a nation,” he said.

However earlier, Mr Ross appeared more focused on Ms Slater sitting directly behind the First Minister, who was in the centre of the front row next to the Queen’s coffin.

Mr Ross argued that, as the leader of the second largest party in the Scottish Parliament, he should sit behind Ms Sturgeon, which also put him closer to Ms Truss.

He believed all the leaders should be seated in order of party size, so that Labour’s Anas Sarwar was next to him, then Ms Slater, and then Liberal Democrat Alex Cole-Hamilton.

This was the same order used at Holyrood that day for the passing of the cortege and the meeting with the King, however there was no such system in place at St Giles’.

Only the front row seats were allocated, with a free-for-all among VIPs for the rest. Nor was there any such order at the Proclamation of the King outside St Giles’ the day before.

Douglas Ross and Lorna Slater discuss a Latin motto on the order of service

A source close to the event said: “This was the biggest event in the history of the parliament and Douglas was worrying about seating and the order of service. It felt extraordinarily petty.”

Mr Ross already faces discontent over his leadership of the Scottish Tory group at Holyrood.

Last month he had to sack a new head of search within days after being taken in by claims he had been a key aide to former Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy.

After Craig Paterson’s appointment emerged, Mr Murphy said he had “never knowingly met this guy let alone employed him in any role, ever. A bizarre fantasy from the Scottish Tories.”

A Scottish Conservative spokesperson said: “The protocol for all events in Scotland involving party leaders following the sad death of Her Majesty - including the welcoming of King Charles to the Scottish Parliament - was that the leaders were placed in order of their party’s representation.

"Douglas mentioned his copy of the order of service was smudged and Lorna Slater said, ‘Here, you can have mine’ and offered to swap, which they did.”