A FORMER Labour health minister has hit out at figures in his party spreading a conspiracy theory about why Aberdeen’s coronavirus lockdown was put in place.

On Wednesday Nicola Sturgeon announced there would be tighter restrictions implemented in the city as cases grew rapidly.

Yesterday the number of cases in a cluster linked to more than 25 bars and restaurants grew to 79, while more than 200 contacts had been traced.

There are fears of a “significant outbreak” in the city. Indoor and outdoor hospitality venues have been shut, people have been told not to travel more than five miles from home for recreational purposes, and residents are advised not to enter other people’s homes. Those living outside of Aberdeen should not visit the city.

READ MORE: Anger as Scottish Labour spreads conspiracy theory about Aberdeen lockdown

The announcement came the day after pupils across Scotland received their exam results. As exams were cancelled this year due to the pandemic, grades were based on teachers’ judgements then vetted by the SQA’s system of “moderation”.

The body moderated by in part looking at each school’s previous results history. An equality impact assessment, released by the SQA, found students in Scotland’s most deprived areas had their Higher pass rate reduced by 15.2%, while students in the least deprived areas had their rate reduced by 6.9%.

The news has sparked anger, with hundreds of pupils expected to protest in Glasgow’s George Square later.

Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie faced criticism yesterday as she called the First Minister’s decision to announce the local lockdown amid the SQA row a “classic diversionary tactic”.

Baillie retweeted a post from Scottish Labour member and solicitor Ian Smart which read: “So, Sturgeon’s staff meeting this morning. ‘I’m sorry FM but you’re going to get eaten even by this press on the SQA. Not to mention your false figures on deaths.’ Nicola: ‘Any ideas?’ Intern (shyly): ‘How about we close down Aberdeen?’ Nicola: ‘Give this person a full time job!’”

Baillie added to this comment: “A classic diversionary tactic – wow.”

READ MORE: Shona Craven: Jackie Baillie’s poisonous p**h could cause real harm

Aberdeen North MP Kirsty Blackman called the post an “unbelievably out of touch comment by an unbelievably out of touch party”.

She told Baillie: “My constituents are going through yet another rollercoaster of worry and pain and you are seeking to trivialise it by making rubbish party political jibes. You should be ashamed.”

Blackman also called on the MSP to apologise for her comments. She has not yet done so.

Scottish Labour did not respond to The National’s request for comment.

This morning, former Labour health minister Malcolm Chisholm was highly critical of those in his party suggesting there was a link between the results row and the Aberdeen restrictions.

He wrote on Twitter: “Seriously unimpressed with number of tweets I have seen associating necessary action in Aberdeen with SQA fallout.

"Public health has often transcended party politics in ScotParl over 21 years and if ever there was a time for that to happen it is now.”

The number of coronavirus cases recorded in Scotland reached its highest for several weeks yesterday as 67 positive tests were carried out.

With 15 coronavirus cases identified in the Greater Glasgow health board area yesterday, the First Minister said these would be monitored carefully.