RUTH Davidson rushed to the defence of gaffe-prone Tory Douglas Ross yesterday, saying his demand for tougher controls on Gypsy and travellers' groups was simply him doing his job as a local MP.

Last month, in a quick-fire interview with Core Politics, Ross was asked: “If you were Prime Minister for the day, without any repercussions, what would you do?”

Ross said the first thing he would do as one of the most powerful people in the world would be “tougher enforcement against Gypsies and travellers”. The answer caused outrage, with the MP being attacked by Amnesty International and travellers’ groups.

READ MORE: Theresa May is clueless and Nicola Sturgeon must join Brexit talks, says key MEP Philippe Lamberts

SNP MSP James Dornan accused Davidson of hypocrisy for defending Ross, saying the Tory leader was “keen to call out racism, sexism and other unacceptable behaviour, except when her own colleagues are the guilty ones.”

Speaking on BBC Radio’s Good Morning Scotland programme on Friday, Davidson said her colleague was being unfairly treated: “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.”

Davidson added: “I know Douglas Ross, as a hard-working councillor in Moray, an MSP and an MP, has worked really hard with his constituents about an issue that is particular to his area regarding illegal encampments. This is a response to a particular local issue.

“This is him acting as a local representative, reflecting some of the concerns of his local community, which have been acute in Moray.”

Davidson then defended allowing Stirling councillors, Alastair Majury, who made anti-Catholic statements, and was condemned by the Roman Catholic Church, and Robert Davis, who made racist jokes, back into the party.

The two men, she argued. had been adequately punished and were changing for the better.

She said: “They have apologised. They have apologised to anybody that was offended by the comments that they made.”

She said the two councillors had been sent for diversity training, and were in talks with the Show Racism The Red Card charity, thought the Tories later clarified that the leader had meant to say the Nil By Mouth anti-sectarian charity.

Nil By Mouth confirmed with The National that they had agreed to a date in the diary to meet.

Dornan said: “This is highly embarrassing for Ruth Davidson, whose party is bogged down in just the latest bigotry scandal after being forced to suspend a series of candidates for racist and Islamophobic comments.

“Ruth Davidson is a hypocrite – she is keen to call out racism, sexism and other unacceptable behaviour, except when her own colleagues are the guilty ones.

“That is utterly shameful, and the decision to reinstate these councillors makes it perfectly clear that racist and offensive attitudes are welcome in the Scottish Tory party.”

Scottish Labour’s Monica Lennon said: “Not content with just defending racist councillors, Ruth Davidson has weighed in to defend attacks on ethnic minorities by her own MPs as well.

“Even Douglas Ross recognised his comments were offensive, but Ruth Davidson still doesn’t seem to think so.

“This whole debacle has only gone to prove once again that the Tories are just the same old nasty party.”