A “REBUTTAL” unit to instantly respond to misleading claims about the independence campaign will be launched soon, the First Minister has said.

During his bid for the SNP leadership earlier this year, Humza Yousaf pledged to set up a service which would be ready to tackle “disinformation and opposition attacks”.

He said work was under way by the party’s digital team on the project and it was hoped it would be up and running by the autumn.

The rebuttal unit was one of Yousaf’s key pledges during his bid to become SNP leader, vowing it would be one of the first things he would do if successful.

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Asked about progress on the initiative, he told the Sunday National: “The first few months [of leadership] have been challenging, there are other issues to be dealing with and I am pleased to have steadied the ship with the SNP.

“We are in a good place financially, we met the deadlines in relation to the various audits that we had to do as well.

“But I can give members an absolute categorical assurance that the rebuttal unit is an initiative the digital team are not only looking at but working on quite intensively at the moment.”

On the issue of the timescale for it, he added: “It is not in the distant future, I would hope to have something absolutely up and running in autumn.”

Speaking about the idea during the leadership campaign, Yousaf said: “I’ll ensure that as a party, we are equipped with the resources required to have a round-the-clock rebuttal service – ready to take on disinformation and opposition attacks within minutes rather than days or weeks.”

During one hustings event, he outlined the idea further, saying: “When it comes to the SNP, if I am leader of the party, one of the first things I will do is set up and ensure we have a beefed-up rebuttal unit.

“We need to rebut some of the nonsense that comes from our opposition and some of the nonsense that comes from certain sections of the media too.

“And I’m not talking about sending a press release a day later, two days… it’s too late. Minutes later – we have to be right on it.”

The creation of an instant rebuttal unit was one of the plans Yousaf outlined as part of his pledge to become “First Activist”.

This also included the kickstarting of a new Yes campaign and holding a series of campaign workshops across Scotland.

A series of regional assemblies is currently being held across Scotland for SNP members to share their views and ideas on how to achieve independence,

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Three took place yesterday in the North-East, Highlands and Islands, and Glasgow, while further assemblies are due to take place in Mid Scotland and Fife, South of Scotlandm and Lothian in the coming weeks.

It follows the SNP’s convention in Dundee in June, in which Yousaf set out his proposals for independence based on winning a majority of seats at the next General Election, with the strategy due to be finalised at the party’s annual conference later this year.