NICOLA Sturgeon has stepped into defend Lorna Slater after it was reported she asked not to work every day at CO26.

The Scottish Greens minister reportedly informed officials she should have adequate days off and no early starts following a late finish and time to eat during the conference.

She was accused of being lazy by opponents after it emerged in the Scottish Sun that she had asked them not to arrange more than "two things in one day".

When asked about the matter on Monday, Sturgeon insisted: “All my ministers work hard, they’re expected to work hard, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

She added: “Lorna is an incredibly hard worker. I’ve seen that in the time that she has been in the Scottish Government.”

Sturgeon said the comment about wanting two days off was “over the course of a 14-day period”.

The First Minister went on: “All ministers will have different patterns of working to take account of all sorts of things but Lorna and the rest of my ministerial team are hardworking, as the country has every right to expect them to be.”

Writing on social media today the Labour MSP Mercedes Villalba MSP (below) also defended Slater, warning against a "macho attitude" to workloads.

The National:

"It's not 'making a fuss' to ask for 1 day off a week," she said. "It's not 'lazy' to attend 2 events a day alongside ministerial duties. If we're serious about encouraging a diverse range of candidates to stand for Parliament, this macho attitude to work has to end."

She later added: "There is nothing worse than a Politician who doesn't take any time off, they are a real liability to the country... ...'I've got a pile of work, but I know I'll wake up fresher for having the day off.' - Robin Cook, 1997."

But one social media user pointed out Slater could have had time off after COP26.

Writing on Twitter, he said: "Surely though for the 2 week event you can push those boundaries, make a few sacrifices and then have a well earned break at the end of it.

"It's expected in many professions that from time to time you will need to go way beyond what would normally be required."

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Villalba stepped into defend Slater, who earns just under £100,000 a year, after Scottish Labour’s net zero, energy and transport spokesman Colin Smyth attacked the minister and described the Greens as being "out of touch".

Smyth said: “We already knew Green ministers’ jobs were made up, but I hadn’t realised they were part-time. 

“This staggering set of rules from Lorna Slater show just how out-of-touch the Greens really are — and how little interest they have in delivering a green agenda. 

“The minister’s point-blank refusal to work a little overtime to attend the most important global climate conference in years shreds the last of her environmentalist credentials. 

“It looks a lot like the two things Lorna Slater does per day are propping up a failing SNP administration and cashing her ministerial paycheck.” 

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The Scottish Government has insisted Slater, who is also the Scottish Greens co-leader, had a "busy schedule of engagements and initiatives".

The message — sent to a wide list of civil servants and advisers two weeks before the event — read: “The minister doesn’t want to do any more than two things in a day given there will be other work to do in and around that.

“It may be feasible to do three things in a day if they are all nearby one another and don’t require much preparation.

“Consideration should also be given to any evening events in Glasgow where the minister may be very late (post 10pm) getting home in which case there should be a later start the following day.

“The minister commented that she can’t be working 14 days straight — she needs two full days completely off, they don’t need to be consecutive.”

Slater arrived at the summit a week late due to testing positive for Covid

A source inside the Scottish Government criticised Slater's attitude to working during the summit. 

“It certainly raised eyebrows. The Greens could only have dreamed of being in government a year ago and all of a sudden they had two ministers as COP26 approached," they told the Scottish Sun. 

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“Scotland was the focus of whether we let the world burn but a Greens minister whose party was set up to save the planet can’t even be bothered working every day.” 

They added: “The nature of politics is that it’s not nine to five, and that is not great for family life. 

“But COP26 was very much a one-off and you would expect a Green minister especially to be making an exception.

“There are other ministers who wouldn’t dream of making a fuss like this — especially not during COP26, having claimed that it was so vital to saving the planet.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “All Scottish ministers worked hard throughout COP26 to make it a success. 

“In spite of having Covid for the first week, Ms Slater had a busy schedule of engagements and initiatives to demonstrate leadership on the climate emergency here in Scotland, including banning some of the most harmful single-use plastic products.”