THE Scottish Conservatives have doubled down after being accused of spreading “fake news” by falsely claiming police officers in Scotland are on strike.

The party shared a graphic on social media which wrongly includes police officers on a list of professions on strike – and have refused to correct the inaccuracy.

Calum Steele, the head of the Scottish Police Federation, confirmed police are not legally allowed to strike.

But when asked whether the social media post would be taken down because it was spreading incorrect information, a party spokesperson said: “This post correctly highlighted the wave of disruption that has been caused by the SNP’s inaction when it comes to pay disputes across Scotland’s public sector.”

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The National:

It has led to accusations the party is willingly spreading disinformation to attack the Scottish Government.

The Scottish Government has called the accusations “false and misleading”.

A spokesperson said: “Under long-standing legal arrangements, police officers are unable to take strike action and suggestions to the contrary are false and misleading.

“Our police officers play a vital and valued role and we want to recognise that by ensuring they are the best paid in the UK. We are pleased the Police Negotiating Board reached an agreement on police officer pay for this year which gives a 5% pay increase to all officers.”

Allan Dorans, the SNP’s policing spokesperson, said: “The inclusion of police officers in the list is either ignorant or dishonest as they must know Scottish police officers accepted a deal in August.”

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He added: “I am frankly disgusted by this desperate attempt from the Scottish Conservatives to conceal the UK Government’s direct responsibility for a range of industrial action affecting the whole of the UK.

“At a time of soaring revenue for the UK Treasury from Scottish oil and gas fields and from renewable electricity production, they have refused adequate funding to the Scottish Government to meet fair pay settlements.”

Chris McEleny, Alba’s general secretary, said: “The desperate Tories will go to any lengths to deflect from the chaos their party has inflicted on Scotland from Westminster.

“There are many issues that the Scottish Government need to address, and Alba have argued for a more progressive tax system to create a bigger pot of money to reward the workers that keep us safe and keep Scotland moving, but this debate is not served by fake news spread by the Tories.

“The police cannot lawfully take part in strike action and they haven’t done so.

“The Tories can’t be trusted with getting basic facts right, so why on earth would they be trusted at delivering for working people?”

The Scottish Tories have claimed they were referring to police refusing to take on work over and above what they are contracted to do – which ended in August this year when officers took a 5% backdated pay rise.

A spokesperson for the party said: “We know the police cannot legally go on strike – but the derisory pay offer made by the SNP Government in the summer prompted the Scottish Police Federation to take what Calum Steele himself described as ‘the most overt demonstration of action by our members in more than 100 years’.

“Officers withdrew their goodwill, which meant they stopped doing the free overtime they usually dedicate themselves to.”

The tweet with the graphic remained active on the party’s account at time of going to press.

It comes after Scottish Conservatives leader Douglas Ross accused SNP MPs of "deliberately misleading" the public over Scotland's renewable energy potential - for which he was upbraided by the Speaker in the Commons on Tuesday.