Opposition parties have joined together to called for the merger of transport policing in Scotland with the national force to be halted due to the "crisis" in Police Scotland.

The call comes a day after Police Scotland's chief constable announced he is temporarily stepping aside as two allegations against him of gross misconduct - one from a senior officer on the force executive - are investigated.

Phil Gormley denies the accusations, which could lead to his dismissal if proven, and has taken "special leave".

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The Scottish Conservatives have been long-standing opponents of integrating British Transport Police (BPT) in Scotland with the national force and are now calling for the plans to be frozen, backed by the Scottish Liberal Democrats.

Conservative justice spokesman Liam Kerr said: "Even before the latest crisis at Police Scotland, there were major question marks over why the takeover of British Transport Police was taking place.

"Now that the national force is facing such disruption, it would seem to be the height of recklessness to go ahead.

"The SNP Government has refused to listen to anyone over the BTP takeover. Nor has it ever given a good reason for it to go ahead. Surely now it must take heed.

"With Police Scotland in crisis, the sensible thing to do would be to put the entire business on hold."

Lib Dem justice spokesman Liam McArthur said "with Police Scotland in the midst of a power vacuum, such a merger could have devastating consequences".

He added: "A merger like this requires strong leadership and with both the Scottish Police Authority and Police Scotland without any permanent leadership, it would be irresponsible to allow such a merger to proceed."

Legislation approving the takeover was passed by Holyrood in June, despite opposition from the Tories, Labour and Lib Dems.

Trade unions and BTP officers have also criticised the merger plans, raising fears of a risk to safety, but the Scottish Government says it will make railway policing more accountable.

An SPA spokesman said: "The legislation to merge BTP with Police Scotland has been passed in the Scottish Parliament and the SPA is committed to working with Police Scotland and the BTP to ensure the transition is as seamless as possible.

"The merger is subject to regular scrutiny at the SPA public board meetings."