STV has been accused of gagging one of its journalists after “bullying” by the SNP.

The broadcaster was yesterday criticised for caving into political pressure, while the party was accused of intimidating the media.

The row erupted after it emerged STV had called a halt to its digital politics and comment editor Stephen Daisley writing articles for its website.

Mr Daisley, who was defended against a previous SNP attack by Harry Potter author JK Rowling, regularly courted controversy.

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He called himself “a friend” of Labour, accused Jeremy Corbyn of supping with anti-Semites, and said the SNP was “expert at mining grievance from even the most innocuous act or statement” and had the “preponderance of zoomers” in Scottish politics.

He had contributed one or two opinion pieces per week since 2014.

However STV has not published any of his articles since July 19.

The broadcaster said he remained a key contributor but its output had “evolved”.

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The decision followed mounting pressure from the SNP over the broadcaster's digital content and Mr Daisley in particular, with complaints first raised at an event hosted by STV executives at Westminster in the spring.

SNP culture spokesman John Nicolson and chairman of the Scottish Affairs Committee Pete Wishart, who met STV, also questioned Mr Daisley’s output via social media.

In June, JK Rowling came to Mr Daisley’s defence on Twitter after Mr Wishart asked whether one his comments was his own view or “just the view of the ‘digital arm’ of the STV family?”

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Ms Rowling responded: “Is trying to intimidate journalists you dislike @theSNP policy or just a vendetta of your own?”

Last month, Mr Nicolson posted a dozen late-night tweets questioning Mr Daisley's ability and neutrality after he appeared to recommend a notorious Twitter account called Brian Spanner, which often posts misogynist abuse of female politicians.

Mr Nicolson, a former BBC journalist who is now MP for East Dunbartonshire, wrote: “[Daisley] is meant to be a neutral journalist – not an activist.”

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He went on: “I think @WeAreSTV wanted him to be a witty gadfly. Not working… I think they were naive. They – and he – thought he’d be witty click bait. Alas he’s no @JamieRoss7 [Scotland correspondent for Buzzfeed].”

A day later the MP even suggested Mr Daisley might be behind the Brian Spanner account.

Asked by a Twitter user if that was possible, he replied: “Who knows. He certainly seems to admire him enough to recommend him. Which is odd as he's a neutral @WeAreSTV editor.”

Scottish Conservative culture spokesman Jackson Carlaw said: “There are two elements of real concern here. Firstly, a broadcaster as mainstream as STV is buckling to nationalist pressure. Secondly, the SNP continues to believe it can behave in this fashion.

“Gagging journalists is totally unacceptable in Scotland. However, it seems SNP high command feels it can bully broadcasters and that even STV will be forced to oblige.”

LibDem MSP Mike Rumbles added: “That the SNP felt compelled to lean on STV to stop a journalist writing says more about them than it does Stephen Daisley."

"During the referendum we saw crowds protesting at BBC Scotland with the tacit backing of Alex Salmond and senior colleagues. This sorry episode suggests nothing has changed."

A Labour source added: “The SNP have a track record of intimidating journalists. It's very concerning the party of government continues to attempt to silence any criticism against it."

STV declined to comment on the accusation it had buckled to political pressure.

A spokeswoman said: “STV continues to develop and invest in political coverage, particularly since the launch of our enhanced digital news service earlier this year.

“Our output and content will continue to evolve and Stephen Daisley is a key contributor to this as we enter the new parliamentary session.”

An SNP spokeswoman said Mr Nicolson and Mr Wishart met STV executives “to discuss STV’s importance as a leading broadcaster and commercial production company”.

But she added: “At no point did they ask for Mr Daisley to stop writing and any suggestion otherwise is completely untrue. Any editorial decisions are entirely a matter for STV."