THE First Minister said she “deprecates” those casting aspersions on a global health expert’s integrity following a Twitter row over schools reopening this morning.

Devi Sridhar, who advises the Scottish Government on coronavirus, posted a thread explaining how proper suppression of Covid-19 to less than 20 known cases could get schools back to some kind of normal by August.

When a journalist suggested Sridhar’s comments were in line with calls from former FM Jack McConnell to get children learning full-time again as soon as possible, Sridhar clarified her views at “completely aligned” with Nicola Sturgeon’s – and she supports her slow, careful easing of lockdown.

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Shortly after high-profile Unionist figures like former Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson and ex Better Together boss Blair McDougall suggested the professor had been made to publish the post.

Davidson suggested Sridhar had received the “hairdryer treatment” over the phone for her posts – and McDougall joked that the professor should read out her tweet on camera “in a video that begins with someone in a balaclava holding a copy of today’s newspaper”.

While Sturgeon called Davidson’s initial tweet “utterly disgraceful”, denying any telling off and criticising her for suggesting Sridhar, the chair of global public health at Edinburgh University, would be susceptible to such tactics, she addressed her anger towards the wider group making similar claims on social media today.

READ MORE: Ruth Davidson slammed for 'disgraceful' claim about virus expert

During First Minister’s Questions, the SNP leader was asked by Jackson Carlaw whether she agreed with Sridhar’s point about suppression of Covid-19 allowing kids to return to classrooms on a full-time basis.

Sturgeon told MSPs: “Yes I do agree wholeheartedly with Professor Sridhar’s analysis. Can I say as an aside, Presiding Officer, that I deprecate anyone who is casting aspersions on the integrity of Devi Sridhar this morning.

“I agree with her in the totality of what she says. Not just the bits of her analysis that suit my particular argument. I want to get schools back to normal as quickly as possible, I want to get our economy back to normal as quickly as possible, but I also know that all of that has to be safe.

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“We cannot have memories so short that we already forget that we are dealing with a virus that is dangerous and potentially deadly – and it has not gone away. So we must continue to move forward in a careful and phased way.”

The Scottish Tory leader then told her: “It’s not enough simply to deprecate all those who ask questions whether they’re politicians or journalists when they do.”

He argued parents want to see radical measures taken to ensure their children can learn full-time in a safe environment.

Again Sturgeon reiterated her support for Sridhar’s comments, but pointed out that around the world schooling has had to change to prevent the spread of Covid-19. She stressed the importance of suppressing the virus effectively which would allow pupils to learn in a normal way again while staying safe.

The SNP leader also rejected Carlaw’s claim about her deprecating “all those who ask questions”.

She said: “Just for the record, Presiding Officer, I do not deprecate anybody who asks questions. I deprecate people who cast aspersions on the integrity of an expert. And I think it’s really important to be clear about that.”