SNP MSP John Mason was criticised by the party’s leadership yesterday after he vowed to ignore Scottish Government advice on coronavirus and hold face-to-face constituency surgeries.

In a tweet over the weekend, the frequently controversial Glasgow Shettleston MSP said he and his staff were “keen to be as available as possible”, announcing on Twitter his office would continue to be open five days a week.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman was scathing, telling her Holyrood colleague to follow the advice and that he was “neither an exception nor exceptional”.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also called on the backbencher to close his office. It’s understood that Mason has now shut up shop.

In his initial tweet, Mason also promised to do home visits.

Responding, Freeman tweeted: “John please don’t do this. Follow the clear health guidance – you are neither an exception nor exceptional.”

Fergus Mutch, a former SNP communications manager, was also critical of Mason.

He said: “When I ran the SNP press office, I often felt I was defending the indefensible with John Mason.

“In the past, however, he’s only brought the party into disrepute. This time he’s risking lives. Typically stubborn and deeply arrogant.”

Mason’s commitment to keep his office open comes just days after he criticised the Easterhouse Baptist Church for cancelling services amid the pandemic. “Surely we should be bold, take risks, and trust in Jesus?” he said.

Asked about the comments, Sturgeon said her backbencher had got it wrong.

The First Minister added: “I would say very categorically that the advice he has given around his constituency office and going to church is not the right advice.

“I think it is important that all of us, particularly elected representatives, give people the right advice.”