Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross has apologised for missing a VJ Day commemoration because he was working as a linesman at a football match.
The new leader of the Scottish Tories said he was “wrong” to have rejected an invitation to mark 75 years since the end of the Second World War with a two-minute silence alongside veterans in his Moray constituency.
Rather than attend the event in Forres on Saturday morning, Mr Ross was running the line as Kilmarnock hosted St Johnstone.
Following criticism of his decision, Mr Ross issued an apology to any veterans who were offended and pledged to donate his match fee – believed to be approximately £445 – to the Help for Heroes charity.
He said: “I was selected to officiate a game before I was invited to the VJ Day event, and I offered apologies in advance that I could not attend.
“I had not anticipated there being an official VJ Day event given the current restrictions due to Covid, but when it became clear there was a conflict, I should have asked to be taken off my game.
“I got this wrong and I apologise.
“I am a proud and passionate supporter of the armed forces and our veterans.
“I represent a constituency with a significant military presence and have worked with local and national charities supporting veterans throughout my time as an elected representative.
“I made an error of judgment here and apologise to any veteran who was offended.”
Part time MP – more interested in football https://t.co/xqrr4dXbDG
— Neil Findlay MSP (@NeilFindlay_MSP) August 16, 2020
Scottish Labour MSP Neil Findlay accused Mr Ross of being a “part time MP” and accused him of being “more interested in football” than commemorating VJ Day.
Following his appointment as Scottish Conservative leader, Mr Ross said he would quit his job as a football official if he becomes first minister after the 2021 Holyrood election because his presence at football matches would cause too many problems for matchday policing staff.
He said: “I’ve made it clear I want to continue refereeing, however, that is something that I plan to do as leader of the Scottish Conservatives.”
Speaking to the PA news agency, he added: “I can officially announce that if I am elected first minister of Scotland, much to the great delight of football fans across Scotland – and this may help me get to that ultimate office – then I would give up refereeing as first minister.”