NICOLA Sturgeon has said the abuse BBC journalist James Cook received at Tuesday night’s Tory hustings was “disgraceful”.

The journalist was speaking with protesters at Tuesday night’s event, one of whom referred to him as “scum” and called him a “traitor”.

Cook said to protesters that he was trying to get his phone out to get some shots of everybody but that a gentleman had called him “scum”.

Somebody then asked the journalist if he knew about the Claim of Right and how long he had spent in Scotland. 

Cook replied: “’I’ve been in Scotland my whole life, I’m not gonna be starting asking you how long you’ve been in Scotland, I think it’s a bit of a rude question but nonetheless.”

A protester accused him of knowing little about the Claim of Right, to which Cook said “I know my history thanks”.

Cook described the conversation as a “waste of time” as he was called a "liar". 

He continued: “Do you know what? It’s a waste of time, I’m very much fine to have a civilised conversation with you in our nation which we share but I can’t have a civilised conversation because this gentleman calls me 'traitor' and 'scum'.”

Sturgeon responded to what happened on her social media. She said: “Hurling abuse at journalists is never acceptable.

"Their job is vital to our democracy & it is to report & scrutinise, not support any viewpoint.

"@BBCJamesCook is a journalist of the highest quality and a total pro - the behaviour he was subjected to last night was disgraceful."

BBC Scotland has issued a statement in which it said it is “never acceptable” for journalists to be abused when they are working. 

The statement said: “Yesterday evening one of our journalists was subjected to verbal abuse from protesters while covering the Conservative Leadership hustings in Perth.

“James Cook is an exceptional correspondent and showed professionalism throughout the incident.

“It is never acceptable for journalists to suffer abuse of any nature while doing their job.”

SNP MP Ian Blackford said he was “ashamed” to see what had happened. 

In a post on social media, he said: “This is shocking and I am ashamed to see @BBCJamesCook treated this way. 

“It’s not all right. James is a first class, decent and rightly well-regarded journalist. He acted with great dignity and patience here. 

“This is not the Scotland I want.”

Elsewhere, SNP MP David Linden responded to a tweet from Conservative MP Andrew Bowie, who alleged on his own Twitter that pensioners had been spat at though The National could not verify that claim.

Protesters were kept far back from the concert hall entrance with dozens of police between the barrier and the venue.

READ MORE: Pro-independence protesters target Perth's Tory leadership hustings

Linden replied: “These morons don’t speak for me or my party. 

“We condemn their behaviour utterly and without equivocation. If anyone of them is found to be an @theSNP member, then they should be chucked out immediately. 

“It’s as simple as that.”

Police Scotland said no arrests were made at the event and that they had a "duty" to protect the rights of those wishing to protest. 

Chief Superintendent Phil Davison said an "appropriate policing plan was in place to maintain public safety and minimise disruption". 

He continued: "Police Scotland is a rights-based organisation that puts our values of integrity, fairness, respect and a commitment to upholding human rights at the heart of everything we do. 

“We have a duty under the European Convention on Human Rights to protect the rights of people who wish to peacefully protest or counter protest balanced against the rights of the wider community.”