AN SNP MSP has apologised after breaking party rules when she sent an email en masse to party members laying out support for Humza Yousaf to take over as first minister.

Emma Harper, who represents the SNP at Holyrood after winning a seat on the South Scotland list, flouted party rules in sending the email from the address to members across her region.

Writing for Craig Murray’s blog, convener of the Kirkcudbright and District SNP Steve Norris said that members in “the three southernmost constituencies, Galloway and West Dumfries, Dumfriesshire and Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire” all received an email from Harper laying out her support for Yousaf.

An SNP spokesperson said the MSP had accepted she "was in the wrong" over the email. 

The SNP guidance states that no one can “use a party email facility to seek to influence the votes of members in the election”.

Norris said that SNP national secretary Lorna Finn had sent out an email reminding office bearers of this and other relevant rules hours after Harper’s email had landed in people’s inboxes.

Sent before the nomination process ended, Harper’s email read: “As we draw closer to the end of the nomination process in the contest for leadership of our party and for Scotland’s next First Minister, I wanted to take the opportunity to write to you all with my decision to back Humza Yousaf for these top jobs …

“Being First Minister is the top job in our country. It requires experience and dedication – a First Minister is never off duty. In my opinion, and after consideration, I believe Humza Yousaf to be the best person for this role.

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“Humza has had many of the toughest jobs in government over the last 10 years – Transport Minister, Justice Secretary and Health Secretary in the midst of a global pandemic. He has also openly reaffirmed his commitment to our nations [sic] independence, to progressive politics and to equality for all, all of which I view to be crucial in Scotland’s journey to become a fairer, progressive and more equal country.”

The email signed off: “And a wee final reminder – please ensure you log onto MYSNP to nominate your candidate and to vote for who you think is the best option for party leader and First Minister.”

Norris accused Harper of a “sleekit attempt to manipulate the vote and sidestep our party’s strict electoral rules”.

“No other candidate or campaign team leader was offered a similar facility to make their pitch to the South Scotland membership, in the same way Emma Harper did for Humza Yousaf,” he said.

An SNP spokesperson said: "Email privileges provided to elected representatives cannot be used for this purpose. 

"The national secretary has reminded all parliamentarians and councillors of the restrictions in place during the leadership election campaign. 

"Ms Harper accepts that she was in the wrong and has offered an apology to the three candidates for her mistake."