RUTH Davidson is facing a potentially damaging legal action after a veteran Scottish Conservative activist was blocked from becoming Scotland’s next MEP.

The party’s management board, which includes Ms Davidson, has refused to endorse Belinda Don going to Brussels, despite her being the choice of grassroots members.

The SNP said the Tories were “fighting like rats in a sack”.

Ms Don is now consulting her legal team about stopping the party approving anyone else for the position.

Her lawyers have already warned they may seek an interdict at the Court of Session.

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The development, which threatens to expose party infighting, is dangerous for Ms Davidson, who had been riding high in the Tory party since gains in the General Election.

It could also shed an unwelcome light on her leadership style, which some party sources describe as autocratic and unforgiving.

There is bad blood between the two women.

Ms Don opposed Ms Davidson becoming Scottish Tory leader in 2011, and recently said that if you were not part of her clique “then you are out”.

Ms Davidson, meanwhile, is understood to regard Ms Don as “stuck up”, and not sufficiently active in the party to merit the Brussels job, which would only last until Brexit in 2019.

Ms Don, who worked for 12 years as an MEP’s assistant, described the rejection as “a personal attack” and said the European Parliament seat did not “belong” to Ms Davidson.

She said: “It’s deeply frustrating. I’ve struggled for 12 years to do this and wanted to represent the Scottish people, put my experience to good use and give something back.”

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The stitch-up row follows Scotland’s previous Tory MEP, Dr Ian Duncan, being elevated to the House of Lords to serve as a Scotland Office minister.

Lord Duncan was given the position after failing to get elected as a Perthshire MP in June.

His move created a vacancy in Brussels which ordinarily would have been filled by the next person on the Tory party list put before voters at the 2014 European election.

This was Ms Don, who was ranked second in a vote of Scottish Tory members.

However the party has refused to certify her as their choice, meaning a lower-ranked candidate is now in line for the post.

Former CBI Scotland chair Baroness Nosheena Mobarik is next after Ms Don, but faces pressure to stay in the Lords as the Tories need all their peers voting on Brexit laws.

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The fourth place candidate is now an advocate who appears uninterested in the job, leaving fifth place Iain McGill, a former postman who runs his own business, in contention.

Ms Davidson is understood to favour Mr McGill.

A final decision is expected by early September, when the EU parliament resumes.

Ms Don said that on August 4, Victoria Carslake, the Conservative Party’s Nominating Officer for all elections in the UK, told her she would be certified as the MEP.

However on Friday, after a meeting of the Scottish Tory management board the night before, Ms Carslake told Ms Don she would not be certified as the party’s choice after all.

Ms Don said: “The law is perfectly clear. Any vacant seat should go to the next elected person on the list. This seat belongs to the 231,000 voters who voted for Ian Duncan and

me, not to Ms Davidson.

“This is not just a personal attack but one that strikes to the very heart of our democracy. How can it be acceptable for a Party to overturn a legitimate election result?”

On 14 of the last 15 occasions an MEP has been replaced, the position has gone to the next person on the party list, with the only exception now the subject of a legal action in England, also against the Conservative party.

SNP MP Peter Wishart said: “This will be deeply embarrassing for Ruth Davidson - they're fighting like rats in a sack.

“It just looks like she wants her cronies around her - doing her bidding at any cost.''

A spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives said: “The process for nominating a new Conservative MEP is still on-going and we are unable to comment further.”