MURRAY Foote, the former Daily Record editor, has resigned as the SNP chief of communications.

Foote wrote on Twitter that he had taken the decision to step down after a row around the party's membership.

It comes after the Sunday Mail reported in February that the SNP had lost some 30,000 members "over gender reform and indyref2".

However, Foote said on Twitter that the claims were "drivel".

But it was revealed on Thursday that the SNP had some 72,000 members, a drop of roughly 31,000 from December 2021.

The now former SNP spindoctor suggested that he had been fed false information by party HQ, which had led to his resignation.

He wrote: "Acting in good faith and as a courtesy to colleagues at party HQ, I issued agreed party responses to media enquiries regarding membership. It has subsequently become apparent there are serious issues with these responses.

"Consequently, I concluded this created a serious impediment to my role and I resigned my position with the SNP Group at Holyrood."

A spokesperson for the SNP said: "We are disappointed and saddened that Murray felt the need to take this decision.

"He has been a great colleague over the past few years, and we wish him well for whatever he decides to do next." 

The spokesperson later added: "Murray has been an outstanding head of press for the Holyrood Group and we thank him for his service. He has acted entirely in good faith throughout.

"The party was asked a specific question about loss of members as a direct result of the [Gender Reform Recognition] Bill and indyref2. The answer given was intended to make clear that these two reasons had not been the cause of significant numbers of members leaving.

"The membership figure is normally produced annually and is not produced in response to individual media queries, including in this instance.

"In retrospect, however, we should not have relied on an understanding of people's reasons for leaving as the basis of the information given to Murray and, thereafter, the media.

"A new, modernised membership system is currently being developed for the party."

The news sparked calls for an inquiry from senior SNP MP Pete Wishart, with his colleague Angus MacNeil also questioning who had given Foote "erroneous information".

Foote joined the SNP as the party's head of communications and research at Holyrood in February 2020.

The former Daily Record editor was known as the architect of "The Vow" ahead of the 2014 independence referendum.

Signed by Tory Prime Minister David Cameron, Labour’s Ed Miliband and LibDem Nick Clegg, it promised “extensive new powers” for Holyrood if Scots voted No.

Former First Minister Alex Salmond credited it with swaying public opinion against independence, although pollsters say its influence has been over-rated.

Foote told The Herald in 2020: “I have always been sympathetic to the [Scottish independence] cause. Anybody who knows me knows - this does not come as a surprise to them.”

Asked about the Vow, he said: “I had a job to do. My job was to represent the views of the readership of the Daily Record. That was what I did to the best of my ability, regardless of my political persuasion.”

Foote's resignation comes on the same day that Nicola Sturgeon's chief of staff, Liz Lloyd, announced she would quit alongside the outgoing first minister.