THE chair of the Scottish Conservatives has denied having any role in forcing Douglas Ross’s resignation as group leader – and said the decision to run to be an MP was all Ross's.

Party chair Craig Hoy is one of the eight members – alongside Ross – of the Scottish Tory management board which took the decision not to allow David Duguid to stand in the newly created Aberdeenshire North and Moray East constituency on health grounds.

Although Duguid has said it is untrue that he is not well enough to stand, Ross applied to run in the constituency in his place – a U-turn on previous pledges not to run in the General Election to instead focus on his role at Holyrood.

Amid the backlash, allegations of improper use of MPs’ expenses were leaked to the media and Ross was forced to announce he will quit as Scottish Tory leader after the election on July 4.

Speaking to The National during a campaign visit to the Clydeside Distillery in Glasgow on Wednesday, Hoy was asked if he accepted that, as party chair, he had “some role in Douglas Ross having to resign”.

The South Scotland MSP responded: “No. The two issues are very separate.

“The management board decided on the basis of a duty of care to David Duguid that we couldn't proceed with his candidacy.

“That decision was taken after long consideration and two meetings with Mr Duguid and his family, where we didn't get sufficient assurance that him standing wouldn't negatively impact either his health or impede his recovery. That was the reason that decision was taken.

“I do hope that at a point in the future when David has made a recovery that he is able to stand for the Scottish Conservatives again. He was a friend and a colleague.”

Asked if Ross had been approached and asked to run in Duguid’s place by the Scottish Tory management board, Hoy said he had not.

The party chair said: “The management board didn't actually have a role in relation to Douglas running. We have a role in relation to setting candidates rules.

“Once that seat became available on the Wednesday, there was only 24 hours to find a candidate, and Douglas applied directly to the constituency.

“The management board has no role whatsoever in the selection of candidates.”

READ MORE: Douglas Ross blames Scottish Tory board he sits on for blocking David Duguid

When Ross became Scottish Tory leader in 2020 he was not a member of the Scottish parliament.

Asked if being an MSP was a “prerequisite” to being Scottish Tory leader this time around, Hoy said: “I don't think constitutionally it has to be. But I think most of the ‘taking the fight to the SNP’ takes place in the Scottish Parliament.

“So I would expect that our leader will be drawn from the 31 MSPs at Holyrood.”

Asked if he could name a few of the Scottish Tory MSPs who could “do a good job of running the party”, Hoy said: “I'm not even going to speculate on a single name.

“I know there are many of them. They're my colleagues. They're my friends. They work in the same building as me.

“And when they choose to declare, if they choose to declare, I'm sure there will be a breadth of talent to give our members a choice about who the next leader is to follow a very strong leader, Douglas Ross, who made sure that we took the fight to the SNP and at the last Holyrood election, maintained that record 31 seats and delivered a record vote across the country.”

Hoy repeatedly refused to say if he would consider running to replace Ross as Scottish Tory leader after the General Election, telling media that he was only focused on that Westminster election for the time being.