ALEX Salmond is facing calls to sack a senior spin doctor after he was accused of an email "attack" on a woman who spoke at a No campaign rally.

Scottish Government special adviser Campbell Gunn was ordered to apologise to mother-of-two Clare Lally, who addressed a Better Together meeting on Monday marking the 100-day countdown to the referendum.

He apologised after emailing a newspaper to challenge a ­statement she made introducing herself to the audience as "just an ordinary mum from Clydebank campaigning for Scotland to stay in the UK".

In his email, Mr Gunn, a former political editor of The Sunday Post turned spokesman for the First Minister, pointed out she was a member of Scottish Labour's shadow cabinet, where she serves as a "carers' champion".

He also claimed, mistakenly, that she was the daughter-in-law of former Glasgow Lord Provost Pat Lally.

Last night Ms Lally, whose daughter Katie has cerebral palsy, rejected the apology.

She said: "I don't think it's an apology, it's a bit of an insult. I think I am only receiving the ­apology from him because he has been caught out. The email and inaccurate information has been shown for what it is.

"It is an attack on myself as a mum, as a person and as a parent."

She said her distress had been compounded by vicious abuse on Twitter and other social media, apparently fuelled by a popular pro-independence website, Wings Over Scotland, which also highlighted her role in Labour.

Ms Lally is a former Scottish Mum of the Year and blogger on

Mr Gunn said: "Nothing in the email I sent was intended in any way to be a personal slight on Ms Lally or question her absolute right to express her views, and I apologise unreservedly for the upset and offence that has been caused to her and her family."

He added: "I sent one email to one journalist which in no way was intended to form the basis of a story. I am genuinely sorry I did so, and the First Minister had no knowledge of it."

Mr Salmond, who has visited Ms Lally in the past to discuss her life as a carer, said he had ordered the apology, adding: "She is an ordinary mother and she's ­absolutely entitled to express a view, as indeed every other person in Scotland is."

Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont said the email was a "disgusting personal attack" intended to send a message that Ms Lally was "not to be believed".

She also called for an inquiry into whether Mr Gunn had co-ordinated the online attacks, a charge he rejected last night as "completely untrue".

She said: "Apologies are not enough. Alex Salmond must sack his senior adviser Campbell Gunn.

"Campbell Gunn's attack on Clare Lally unleashed a tidal wave of vile abuse aimed squarely at her on the internet, which caused Clare and her family immense distress.

"Once Campbell Gunn is sacked we can then ask the many further questions this disgusting incident throws up."

Scots Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said: "For such slurs and misinformation to be spread by one of the First Minister's taxpayer-funded key advisers is a new low for the SNP Government in this referendum debate."

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: "This was no misunderstanding - it was a crude and unwarranted attempt to silence those who disagree.

"Since he clearly does not understand what he has done, Campbell Gunn should resign or be dismissed."

Special advisers are appointed by ministers and employed by the Government. They enjoy greater political freedom than impartial civil servants but, under the code of conduct which governs their behaviour, are not allowed to make personal attacks.