IAN Blackford has said former Tory minister Patrick Mercer’s 500-mile trips between Nottinghamshire and Skye did breach Scottish Government lockdown guidance.

Mercer – who left politics after 14 years after being caught in a fake lobbyist sting – told The National he had not broken coronavirus control rules by journeying between homes in Newark in England’s East “Midlands and northern Skye.

The former, on the Trotternish peninsula belongs to his wife, Cait, who inherited it from her father.

Locals spoke of anger among the community on Skye over the couple’s trips to and from the croft house in recent weeks.

It was claimed that Mercer drove there two days after Boris Johnson’s March 23 lockdown declaration to join his wife, who had been there several days beforehand. The pair have since returned to their English home in separate journeys.

Those claims have now been made by three separate and unconnected sources living in different parts of Trotternish.

But Mercer said he had driven to Skye BEFORE Johnson’s edict after a period of self-isolation to support his wife, who is receiving ongoing health treatment.

The former colonel – a successful author – said she had returned to England only to attend a medical appointment there, while he went back separately to attend to “important business arrangements”.

The National: Patrick Mercer said the house on Skye is his wife’s primary residencePatrick Mercer said the house on Skye is his wife’s primary residence

READ MORE: Patrick Mercer defends 500-mile Skye lockdown trip

Mercer described the Skye house as his wife’s “primary” home and suggested the lockdown breach allegations were the result of a personal dispute which had resulted in malicious smears. He said: “I can’t say this too strongly – there was nothing in what I did that was outside government directions.”

But the journeys to Skye took place after the Scottish Government had issued strong and repeated guidance against travel to the Highlands and Islands. Finance Secretary Kate Forbes, the MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, was amongst those to make a public statement.

Mercer said he would not have travelled to Scotland after Johnson’s statement.

But last night, SNP Westminster leader Blackford, the area’s MP, said the Scottish Government advice was “crystal clear”.

Blackford, the SNP’s most senior Member of Parliament, told The National: “The advice from the Scottish Government has been crystal clear – stay at home to save lives, and do not undertake any non-essential travel.

“We must all take responsibility to prevent the spread of this deadly virus.”

Local sources have told The National they fear such trips will spread Covid-19. Describing Mercer’s account of his movements as “a load of rubbish”, one long-term resident, who lives in the next township to the Mercers, said: “One in three houses here is a holiday home. Every one we can see has obeyed the rules except them.

“They were seen walking with their wee dog all over the north end. People have been talking about it because they are not local.

“The island is within Scottish Government jurisdiction so he should be abiding by that.

“We have finite resources here –there isn’t a ventilator for miles if you fall ill.”

Another accused the couple of showing “blatant disregard for their neighbours”, commenting: “It would seem that Mr and Mrs Mercer feel that the rules the rest of the population adhere to are not for them.”