A TORY MP has apologised after posting an Instagram photo showing him ignoring social distancing rules while drinking in an Aberdeen pub.

Andrew Bowie went for a drink with friends as the city’s hospitality venues reopened after weeks of tight lockdown restrictions following a coronavirus outbreak linked to pubs.

The MP for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine could be seen sitting beside two friends with far less than one metre separating them.

One of the friends is former Tory MEP candidate Michael Kusznir, who before last year’s election had to apologise for “unacceptable” articles he wrote about escorts and prostitution while a student.

In the photograph’s caption, Bowie asks people to make sure they “follow the rules” as the city’s pubs and bars reopen.

The National:

Under current Scottish Government Covid-19 rules, those attending hospitality premises must stay at least one metre away from people who are not members of their household. The rule is two metres in other settings.

The two men photographed with Bowie are not members of his household.

Weeks ago NHS Grampian reported that a lack of social distancing in hospitality venues in Aberdeen had played a “significant factor” in the spread of Covid-19 cases.

Emmanuel Okpo, consultant in public health medicine at the health board, said at the time: “While pubs and restaurants have guidelines to work to, to support physical distancing, it is also the responsibility of each one of us to keep our distance.”

Aberdeen South MP Stephen Flynn criticised Bowie for the post.

"Do as I say not as I do is never a good look for an MP, particularly when they appear to have been out drinking in a city on the day that it has just exited local lockdown,” Flynn told The National.

"Folk expect their MPs to set an example and rightly so - I’m sure  Andrew will want to apologise for what looks like a stupid mistake and make absolutely clear just how important the rules are as we continue to fight this virus."

A spokesperson for the MP's office said: "Andrew met close friends for a couple of drinks to support the local economy during a difficult time for the hospitality industry.

"They observed all social distancing and hygiene measures, leaning in for one photo, as is human nature."

Late last night, Bowie responded himself to say: "I should have been more vigilant and will take greater care to observe social distancing in future. I apologise."