KEZIA Dugdale’s former communications chief is travelling out to Australia to meet her when she comes out of the Jungle.

The former Scottish Labour leader has come in for widespread criticism from her own party, opponents and political commentators for taking part in the reality television programme I’m A Celebrity ... Get Me Our of Here! They say she has abandoned her constituents and duties as a parliamentary backbencher.

But the Labour MSP for Lothian has defended the decision, despite having to take an “unauthorised leave of absence” from her role as a Labour MSP, saying it was an opportunity to promote Labour values.

Usually contestants are met by their partners when they leave the filming set, but former Mail journalist Alan Roden will meet Dugdale after her partner Jenny Gilruth, the SNP MSP, opted not to go.

“Jenny has not asked to go,” an SNP source told The National.

At the weekend Roden defended his former boss’s appearance on the show. “I believe she has earned the right to make this decision. Kez stepped up to lead Scottish Labour in 2015 when nobody else wanted to. She worked tirelessly in the job,” he wrote.

“Her passion for Labour values fuelled her every single day, until the job became too much even for her.”

The former Scottish Labour leader faced a stomach-churning test on Sunday night when she was challenged to drink a milkshake made of blended bull penis and another made from pig and ostrich anus, while being cheered on by her campmates.

Repulsed by the concoctions, Dugdale lost out to comedian Iain Lee, who managed to finish his vile drink during the live task aired at the end of the show.

The two were filmed last week crawling through raw meat and fish guts, and a variety of creepy crawlies, in their first major challenge.

Each box had a pun name attached based on politicians, such as Sickola Sturgeon, Margaret Scratcher and Theresa Dismay, and the other celebrity campmates were able to watch their attempts from green tiered benches, matching those in the House of Commons. Dugdale struggled with the test and lost out to Lee.

It is not known how much Dugdale is being paid to go on the show, but last week it emerged she is donating a proportion of her fee and her MSP’s salary for the period to homeless charity the Rock Trust.

According to reports, some of the better known contestants are earning six-figure sums.

Those appearing include boxer Amir Khan, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson’s father Stanley and Coronation Street actress Jennie McAlpine.

Roden was appointed head of communications by Dugdale when she became leader in August last year, and then took on the communications role for Glasgow Labour MSP Anas Sarwar during his unsuccessful campaign to succeed Dugdale.

Dugdale dramatically quit her role as leader in August after a visit to Scotland by UK party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who she did not support in the two leadership contests.

One of Corbyn’s most influential supporters in Scotland, Labour MSP Neil Findlay, last week said Dugdale’s decision to take part was “utterly ludicrous”, adding: “It demeans politics when people get involved in that.”