FORMER Labour minister Malcolm Chisholm has hit out at his old Scotland Office colleague over comments made about public health expert Devi Sridhar.

Brian Wilson, who served in the Scotland Office under Tony Blair, wrote about the professor currently advising the Scottish Government’s Covid-19 response in a column for the Scotsman.

The former MP discussed what he sees as an “idiotic argument about borders” in the piece, referencing the First Minister’s refusal to rule out implementing quarantine rules for people entering Scotland from the rest of the UK if health advice indicates it’s right to do so.

Nicola Sturgeon’s comments were branded “reckless” and “divisive” by Scottish Secretary Alister Jack this week, while Boris Johnson denied the existence of the Border and Jacob Rees-Mogg insisted Scotland is just a “district or an area”.

The First Minister said yesterday that it’s estimated the level of the virus in England is five times higher than in Scotland.

Sridhar, who has been critical of the UK Government's approach to the pandemic, told the New Scientist earlier in the week that it's unlikely Scotland can eliminate the virus without England's co-operation.

Writing in the newspaper, Wilson states: “Professor Devi Sridhar, who advises the Scottish Government, recently posted: ‘If you’re wondering why more public health people didn’t speak out publicly in early March … fear of losing grant income is a key factor.’

The National:

“Since then, Professor Sridhar has put herself on the safe side, having set the hare running about quarantining people entering Scotland from England. I hope she looked at social media, though not for too long unless she has a strong stomach, to learn about her new fan-base.”

Wilson went on: “Very oddly, Professor Sridhar also tweeted: ‘The number of people just waiting with glee to see New Zealand, Australia, Scotland, Greece, Taiwan, Denmark, Germany and other countries lose control of Covid. Schadenfreude.’

“This is weird. Does she know people who think like that? And why does Scotland, with 4200 deaths in a population of 5.5 million feature among countries which have kept deaths to one tenth of that ratio. It all seems a bit strange.”

The former MP goes on to say Sridhar’s colleague at Edinburgh University, where she is chair of global public health, modelled an action after the Nike conference in Edinburgh which “could have saved 2000 lives” – but says it “remained secret”.

But weeks ago Scotland’s chief medical officer said scientists had found there was no wider outbreak linked to the Edinburgh event by looking at, essentially, the “family tree” of the virus.

Chisholm, who also served in the Scotland Office under Blair, said he was “appalled” by his former colleague’s comments.

The former Holyrood health minister tweeted: “Appalled as former Scottish Office colleague Brian Wilson attacks integrity of @devisridhar in Scotsman.

“Thousands would attest she’s been voice of reason invariably proved right,independent often urging ScotGov to go further,in company of many public health experts when praising.”

The post was retweeted hundreds of times, and Twitter users replied to voice their support for the professor.

Earlier this week Sridhar defended herself online when she was branded a “so-called expert” by a Unionist account.

READ MORE: Devi Sridhar hits back as Unionist brands her a 'so-called' expert

The user told her: “We don’t need so called experts playing politics….why can’t you just give advice and leave the ‘SNP are the light in the darkness’ rubbish to the rest of the cult.”

Sridhar responded to reject the claims. She wrote back: “I currently live and work in Scotland.

“I want Scotland to get rid of the virus, reopen economy and schools and have those shielding feel safe. I contribute my expertise to support this happening.

“I want the same for entire UK. How can anyone living here want Scotland to fail?”