NICOLA Sturgeon has backed down in the row over the SNP cashing in on Covid by selling its own line of branded face masks. 

The First Minister bowed to opposition demands to donate the money to charity instead of it going into SNP coffers. 

It followed Scottish Tory leader Jackson Carlaw directly accusing Ms Sturgeon and her party of “profiteering” from the tragedy in bitter exchanges at Holyrood.

Although unofficial masks with other party logos are widely sold online, the SNP is the only major UK political party to sell branded masks through its official online store. 

The store is intended to raise money for party funds.

The official SNP merchandise includes eight types of face covering, five face masks for £8 each and three kinds of “multifunctional headwear” at £14 each.

The face masks are available in a child’s size as well as an adult size.

The coverings include the SNP or Yes logo, and some use SNP tartan or Saltire designs.

The store is owned and operated under licence by the Glasgow-based Business Incentives Group, which “specialises in the sale and promotion of licensed merchandising”.

However the SNP has approved and defended their sale, saying “just like football clubs and many others, we’ve launched our own branded face coverings”. 

The sale was branded “tasteless” by the Scottish Tories earlier this week.

MSP Annie Wells wrote to Ms Sturgeon’s husband, the SNP chief executive Peter Murrell, urging him to remove the masks from sale and donate any profits to charity.

At Holyrood today, Ms Sturgeon announced the next phases out of lockdown, including a return of full-time schooling from August 11.

After Mr Carlaw said she had misled the public with statistics about relative Covid prevalence in Scotland and England, the First Minister accused him of playing politics.

He replied: “I think the First Minister has to be very careful when she talks about playing politics when she as the leader and the chief executive of her party profiteer from Covid virus by producing party political face masks to raise funds for the SNP, and then encourage people down in the Borders to shout obscenities at people coming to this country from England.”

As SNP MSPs jeered and Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh called for order, Mr Carlaw continued: “Encouraged, encouraged by SNP elected parliamentarians.”

The First Minister said: “Yes, I will continue to do everything to persuade people to wear face coverings. In terms of my party, every penny of profit made will go to charity actually.”

There is no reference to money going to charity from the sale of the face coverings or anything else on the SNP’s store.

It states: “The SNP Store is the official merchandise fundraising web site of Scottish National Party (SNP). 

“By purchasing from the SNP store you are helping the SNP shape our nation’s future success.”

Asked which charity the profits would go to, the SNP failed to identify one.

A spokesperson said: "Like all those with similar products, we're encouraging our supporters to wear a face covering and to help suppress the virus.

"As the First Minister has made clear, all profits will go to charity."

Pressed on which charirtty would benefit, the spokesperson added: "As soon as there's good news to share, we'll share it."