RUTH Davidson has been told to “hang her head in shame” after making “appalling” comments about Nicola Sturgeon to the media.

The Scottish Tory Holyrood group leader prompted anger as she called the First Minister the “head girl” of the “Old Boys’ Club” surrounding Alex Salmond.

Sturgeon had used the “Old Boys’ Club” phrase to describe Salmond and David Davis during FMQs last week, saying the Tory MP had used his position in the Commons to spread “conspiracy theories” about her Government.

A Holyrood committee is investigating the Scottish Government’s mishandling of sexual misconduct complaints against Salmond when he was First Minister.

The National: nicola sturgeon conference pa.jpg

A judicial review found the investigation was unlawful and tainted by apparent bias. The former SNP leader was awarded more than £500,000 in legal costs and was later cleared of all charges at the High Court.

Salmond believes Sturgeon’s allies were involved in attempts to remove him from public life and even have him sent to jail, while she has accused him of pursuing false conspiracy claims.

Last week leaks of the report into the Scottish Government’s handling of the complaints emerged. It apparently concludes that the First Minister misled the Parliament over a meeting with her predecessor, but does not say whether or not she did so “knowingly”.

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Speaking to Sky, Davidson attacked Sturgeon over the developments. “I think for somebody that was [Salmond’s] deputy for 10 years, that encouraged people to vote for him, that told people and I quote – ‘Alex Salmond doesn’t have a misogynistic bone in his body, he’s the least sexist man I know’, I think Nicola Sturgeon’s probably the head girl of the Old Boys’ Club that surrounds Alex Salmond.

“If she had properly dealt with their behaviour maybe she wouldn’t be in this mess.”

Davidson’s comments come after Tory MSP Murdo Fraser was criticised for demanding Sturgeon apologise to the people of Scotland for asking them to trust Salmond.

Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie was among those to hit out at Davidson. He said the conduct of the Tories throughout the process has been “appalling”.

“What should have been an examination of a Scottish Government process that failed women has descended into farce in the search for a political scalp,” he told the Sunday National.

“Their conduct has ensured that the women at the heart of this process have been failed once again and their constant attempts to elicit an apology from a woman for the behaviour of a man is appalling.”

The National: Health Secretary Shona Robison at Holyrood. Picture: Gordon Terris

SNP MSP Shona Robison said Davidson’s comments were an example of how for the Tories, the inquiry is “purely about politics”.

Ruth Davidson continues to insist she is acting on behalf of women but that is so transparently untrue it is an insult to the intelligence.

“The indisputable fact that Nicola did not intervene on behalf of a man to help cover up sexual harassment allegations is an inconvenient truth for the Tories.

“They have dispensed with morality in pursuit of politics and for that they should hang their heads in shame.”

A spokesperson for the Scottish Tories stood by the comments, saying: “The sleaze-infested SNP are in crisis while Nicola Sturgeon and her panic-stricken loyalists are becoming increasingly erratic.

“If Sturgeon has a shred of integrity she will resign for misleading Parliament instead of debasing herself further with desperate and ludicrous attacks on others.”