THREE Holyrood candidates for the Scottish Greens have quit over a row involving one of the party’s most senior figures.

Martin Ford, Pauline Hinchion and Debra Storr resigned as list candidates in December after being told they had to actively campaign for co-convener Maggie Chapman following a dispute. Ms Hinchion has also quit the party.

The bitterness can be traced to the internal contest to select Scottish Parliament candidates for the north east list.

Ms Chapman came first and stands a good chance of becoming an MSP, while Mr Ford, Ms Hinchion and Ms Storr came further down in the rankings.

However, activists believed the contest was unfair and have used the party’s official procedures to complain.

A war of words also broke out over Ms Chapman’s academic qualifications and it became clear some candidates would not campaign for her.

HeraldScotland: Scottish Greens 1 SA : Scottish Greens Party Leader Patrick Harvie as the Scottish Greens launch their European election campaign manifesto and Green Party MEP candidate Maggie Chapman at Dymanic Earth Edinburgh.

Scottish Greens MEP Candidate Maggie Chap

Picture: Maggie Chapman

The party's ruling council decided before Christmas that Mr Ford, Ms Hinchion and Ms Storr had to accept the ballot result as the “settled will of the party and will not contest it any further”.

The body also made it clear that a failure to do so meant the trio had to resign as candidates.

If Mr Ford, Ms Hinchion and Ms Storr refused either of these options, they would be deselected.

In an email to the three obtained by The Herald, co-convener Patrick Harvie wrote: “I think it only fair to properly convey the sense and mood of the discussion at Council. It is clear to me that there is zero tolerance for any continuation of the current dynamic.”

He continued: “The party expects its members, office bearers and especially its candidates to throw their full weigh unambiguously behind the effort to elect our lead candidates as MSPs in May next year, and to work constructively with other party colleagues to that end.”

Mr Harvie added that he required the trio's "active participation" in supporting Ms Chapman.

He also stated that a failure to apologise to Ms Chapman for various statements would not be compatible with accepting the ballot result.

The candidates agreed to accept the ballot result, but they objected to actively supporting Ms Chapman and the suggesting of an apology.

In a resignation statement, they wrote: “We do so with great sadness. We regard this additional imposition on us, sought in contravention of the decisions made by Council, as a deeply unprincipled position for a small proportion of this party to have tried to assert over any of its members."

HeraldScotland:

Picture: Cllr Martin Ford

Ms Hinchion has also recently quit the party. She informed Mr Harvie:

“There are some great people in the Scottish Green Party who I admire and respect enormously. However, the whole North East Holyrood debacle has highlighted how a few in positions of power within the party are willing to ignore the principles of the party, and use the party processes to advance their own factional interests.”

Mr Ford used to be a Liberal Democrat and was instrumental in opposing Donald Trump's plan for a golf course in Aberdeenshire.

A Scottish Greens spokesman said: "Following a detailed internal process our party council late last year agreed that any candidate on the North-east list not prepared to accept and respect the result of the candidate selection should step back from being on that list, which three such candidates then did.

"Our focus in the north-east is to support local branches who are determined to deliver a great result in May, electing Maggie Chapman as MSP to represent the region in Holyrood."