NICOLA Sturgeon has launched a sustained attack on the Scottish Tories, accusing them of shamelessly exploiting the coronavirus crisis after they urged her to sack Jeane Freeman. 

The First Minister laid into the opposition after Tory leader Jackson Carlaw said “enough is enough” and the health secretary had to go after a series of blunders. 

Ms Sturgeon called it “absolutely and utterly disgraceful” and “party politics at its worst”.

She accused the Tories of being more interested in undermining Ms Freeman than the real issues thrown up by a killer pandemic.

She said: “I would say they should be ashamed of themselves, but I’m not entirely sure they have any shame based on the statement this morning.”

The latest blunder, revealed in the Daily Record, involved one in 10 of the vulnerable shielding group being wrongly told they could leave the house today.

Almost 18,000 people most at risk of Covid received an apology after getting letters referring to June 8 instead of June 18.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Sturgeon urged to sack Freeman after shielding group blunder

At the Scottish Government, Ms Sturgeon said she deeply regretted the mistake, and she and Ms Freeman would be open where they got things wrong.

But in a sign that growing criticism of her government may have rattled her, she also broke her self-imposed rule on abstaining from political fights to excoriate the Scottish Tories.

She said: “Right thorough this crisis, I have resisted the tendency to be in any way party political about this. 

“I have resisted and refused invitations to be critical of the UK government. 

“I’m going to continue to do that because the issues we’re dealing with right now are incredibly difficult, but they’re also the most serious and important anny of us have ever dealt with.

“They’re much more important than the traditional party political arguments and debates.

“But I am going to respond to the Tory call this morning because I think the Scottish Tories’ statement this morning is absolutely and utterly disgraceful.

“But unfortunately I don’t find it surprising - and I say this more in sorrow than in anger.

“For the last few weeks, the Scottish Tories have seemed to me not very interested at all in the real issues that we are grappling with and dealing with here.

They have seemed to me to be interested only in party politics and trying to undermine a health secretary who is literally working round the clock to deal with the most difficult issues that any of us have ever dealt with.

“Actually, I think that kind of approach says more about the Scottish Tories or about th health secretary or about the Scottish Government.

“I would say they should be ashamed of themselves, but I’m not entirely sure they have any shame, based on the statement this morning.

“So I’m having to say that because they have said what they’ve said this morning.

“That’s my only party political comment, because I actually, fundamentally believe these issues are too important.”

She went on: “Scrutiny is really vital and I’ve said that for day one. I don’t criticise anybody for subjecting my government to real and proper scrutiny.

“But during a pandemic, calling for health secretary to be sacked, is just party politics at its worst, and I don’t think it has any place in what we’re dealing with right now.

“For my part and the health secretary’s part, we’re going to get on with the job, be candid where we get things wrong, admitting where we make mistakes, like the mistake with the [shielding group] letter, which I deeply regret, getting on every single day, doing the hard work that has to be done to continue to suppress this virus, and ge the country back to normality, and nothing is going to distract me from that task.”