SCOTTISH Labour is in fresh turmoil with the loss of its most senior official.

Brian Roy has quit as the party’s general secretary after five years in post, amid reports he was forced out.

His departure comes after days of feuding in which MSPs have fought with each other and with Jeremy Corbyn over a second independence referendum.

It was sparked by shadow chancellor John McDonnell saying a UK Labour government would not block Indyref2 as it would be undemocratic if voters and Holyrood wanted it.

This flatly contradicted the position of Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard, who said in March that a Labour government would block Indyref2.

Mr Roy was appointed general secretary by moderate Scottish leader Jim Murphy, one of the most prominent pro-Union campaigners during the 2014 referendum. 

However Mr Roy is understood to be a strong supporter of Mr Corbyn.

In a statement released by the party, Mr Roy said: “After 12 years working for the Labour Party, under four UK Labour leaders and seven Scottish leaders, it is time for me to move on to new challenges.

“Having been at the very centre of Scottish Labour during the most turbulent political times, I have worked hard to unite the party, drive our campaigns forward, develop and diversify our candidates, and modernise our campaign machine.

“It has been a privilege to work with Labour prime ministers and a Labour first minister, with many leaders in between, and I sincerely wish Richard Leonard and Jeremy Corbyn the very best as they prepare to win again as a party of government.”

In a longer statement released on his Twitter page, Mr Roy added: "I joined the Labour Party 24 years ago, and in that time politics has changed immeasurably. 

"What has not changed is my commitment to the Labour Party, and the need for a Labour Government to tackle poverty and deliver a fairer society. 

"In Scotland, we should be in no doubt about the scale of that challenge, and we have to be honest about where we are, why we got here and the hard work and political leadership that will take for us to win again. But it can be done."

He also paid tribute to the "unrivalled commitment and professionalism" of Labour staffers.

Mr Leonard said: “On behalf of Labour Party members up and down Scotland I want to thank Brian for his dedication and hard work for our party over the last 12 years.

“His extensive knowledge of, and loyalty to, the Labour Party, and his passion for our values, remains undiminished.

"He has led the party organisation and the party’s staff as our general secretary through a very turbulent time.

“We all wish him every good wish for the future.”

Mr Corbyn also paid tribute. He said: “Brian Roy’s experience and knowledge has been invaluable to Scottish Labour, and to me personally, and I thank him for his dedication to our party and our movement.

“Brian is Labour through and through, and his charity cycle ride for Palestine is a great example of his commitment to international solidarity and justice.

“I wish him all the very best for the future.”

A source said staff at Scottish Labour HQ in Glasgow learned of the development this morning.

They said: “It’s not a complete surprise. There had been speculation that the Scottish leadership wanted him out. But there is still a degree of upset. I think it has blindsided a lot of people."

Deputy general secretary Lorna Finlayson will step up to the top job on an interim basis before a permanent replacement is found.

Scottish Tory MSP Murdo Fraser said: “The Labour party in Scotland are battering themselves into oblivion.

“The last thing they need is more interference from their madcap extremists in London.

“Barely a week goes by when a good person doesn’t jump from the Labour ship, and it just inflicts deeper wounds from which they won’t recover.

“If Scottish Labour can’t even stand up against their own party, how can anyone expect them to stand up to the SNP?”