DOUGLAS Ross has insisted he had “absolutely nothing to do with” the decision to block David Duguid from standing in the General Election, saying it was down to the management board of the Scottish Tory party – on which he sits.

Under questioning from the media, Ross has repeatedly said that the decision to block Duguid from standing was taken by the Scottish Conservatives’ management board on health grounds.

The Scots Tories' website lists Ross as one of the eight members of that board, along with party chair and MSP Craig Hoy and six others: Charles Kennedy, Leonard Wallace, Hamish Mair, Anne Connell, Gillian Tebberen, and Lynne Nailon.

Ross will stand in the Aberdeenshire North and Moray East constituency in Duguid’s place.

READ MORE: Kate Forbes tears into Douglas Ross over 'betrayal' of his Tory colleague

The former minister is currently recovering in hospital after serious health difficulties involving his spine and pneumonia. Speaking to the Scottish Sun on Thursday, Duguid insisted he was fit to stand.

Asked about having “sacked a man on his sickbed” by STV, Ross drew parallels with now-former Tory MP Craig Mackinlay, who had both hands and feet amputated before announcing he would not run in the next General Election.

He said: “The party management board looked at the situation with David's current health and the prognosis going forward immediately for a four-week election campaign and further for hopefully the next five years.

“We've seen a recent example with Craig Mackinlay. Craig was able to walk into the House of Commons after having his hands and his legs amputated.

“But even Craig said that there was a situation where he didn't feel he could go through the rigours of an intensive General Election campaign and then attend Westminster for five years as an MP.”

Pressed on the fact that Mackinlay had voluntarily stepped down while Duguid was forced out, Ross said: “The Scottish Conservative management board looked at all of the situation here.

“They discussed it with David and his family and felt he could no longer be the candidate for that area. When the vacancy arose, that's when I got involved.”

Speaking to Bauer Media, Ross insisted he had “absolutely nothing to do with” the decision to block Duguid from standing – which he said had been discussed with the former minister’s family “last night”.

Responding to Ross’s comment on social media, the SNP’s Stewart McDonald took issue with Ross using Mackinley’s case to defend his actions.

McDonald wrote: “Not content with sacking a man who is in recovery, but who wanted to serve his community, Douglas Ross then tries to hide behind an entirely different and separate case of another MP who chose himself not to stand.

“Morally indecent and thoroughly obnoxious.”

Karen Adam, the SNP MSP for Banffshire and Buchan Coast, said she was "saddened to hear about the indefensible decision to deselect David Duguid due to his health issues".

She went on: "Douglas Ross has elbowed his way in to be the Aberdeenshire North and Moray East candidate after promising the public that he would step down from Westminster. Another broken promise from another desperate Tory leader.

"The people of Aberdeenshire North and Moray East deserve a representative who prioritises their needs, protects their livelihoods, and works tirelessly for their future, not someone who is only interested in their own personal ambition and financial gain.

"Working families are struggling right now at the mercy of a Conservative combination of austerity, Brexit and the cost-of-living crisis. Meanwhile, Douglas Ross – not content with his salary as an MSP, salary as party leader and salary as a linesman – is now seeking an extra salary from the public purse."

Ross has a good chance of winning the Aberdeenshire North and Moray East seat according to recent polling, with Survation’s MRP analysis on Tuesday giving the Tories a two-thirds chance of victory to the SNP’s one-third.

The Scottish Tory leader had previously claimed he would not be standing in the next General Election in order to focus on his role at Holyrood.