THE chief executive of a Unionist campaign group has sparked a row after claiming the “WASPI” women who lost out amid changes to the state pension age should not be paid compensation as they were “too feckless”.

Sam Taylor, who runs the These Islands pro-Union group, made the comments in response to First Minister Humza Yousaf, who had in turn criticised Labour on the issue of state pension changes.

It followed a report from the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) which concluded that people affected by state pension changes which were not communicated adequately should receive an apology and compensation.

PHSO suggested compensation could cost between £3.5 billion and £10.5bn, although campaigners are pushing for a higher figure.

READ MORE: Mhairi Black: More WASPI women will die without a penny of compensation

In 2019, Labour MP and party chair Anneliese Dodds had backed compensating the WASPI (women against state pension inequality) women, but on Sunday she refused to say they deserved anything other than “respect”.

Yousaf responded to Dodds: “Pathetic from Labour. A betrayal of WASPI women.

“Labour promised justice for WASPI women, now if they end up in Government they will turn their back on the very same women.”

Taylor then intervened, arguing that the UK Government did not owe compensation to “feckless” women, and suggesting that some of the campaigners were attempting to “scam” the taxpayer.

“Principled and correct from Labour,” Taylor wrote. “The government should not be paying compensation to women simply because they were too feckless to look up their own state pension age.”

He then responded to former SNP MSP and presiding officer Tricia Marwick, who had written in response to Dodds: “When I started work at 16 I expected my pension when I was 60. I paid for it every pay day.

“Never happened. It was delayed and delayed again. 50s women are owed our own money.”

The 1995 Pensions Act and subsequent legislation raised the state pension age for women born on or after April 6, 1950.

The ombudsman investigated complaints that, since 1995, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) had failed to provide accurate, adequate and timely information about areas of state pension reform.

Responding to Marwick, Taylor claimed she was “perpetrating a straightforward scam”.

He wrote: “Perfect illustration of the WASPI grift. An MSP for 17 years. Presiding officer of the parliament for five of those.

“And we are supposed to believe she just didn’t know about the equalisation of the state pension age?

“First announced by Ken Clarke in 1993!”

Taylor also said Marwick would be getting an MSP’s pension and did not deserve a “penny more”.

The Unionist campaigner’s comments sparked outrage, with SNP MP Alison Thewliss accusing him of “victim blaming”.

She wrote: “Absolutely outrageous victim blaming.

“The WASPI women were far from ‘feckless’ – @PHSOmbudsman found they were the victims of maladministration and a DWP which repeatedly refused to put things right.”

Green MSP Ross Greer shared Taylor’s comment, writing: “Labour and Tory MSPs take this guy seriously and here he is calling the WASPI women 'too feckless'.”

And SNP MP Peter Grant added: Interested to see if @UKLabour and @ScottishLabour will confirm whether they think 3.5 million WASPI women were feckless.

“That's what their Better Together chums are saying.”

Asked for comment, Taylor pointed to tweets where he had said that “deserving cases do exist” and “genuine victims should be compensated”.

He has also tweeted that among WASPI women “about 1% [are] deserving cases, 99% grifters”.

Taylor also said: “I didn’t say all WASPI women were ‘too feckless’. I said that I agreed with Labour dropping its blanket compensation policy, because many WASPI women have no legitimate claim for compensation.

“Tricia Marwick is an example of someone without a legitimate claim.”

He added: “I would draw your attention to the fact that my tweets are my personal opinions, and not those of These Islands.

“These Islands has no position on the WASPI campaign, or on Labour Party policy.”