DOUGLAS Ross has publicly apologised after missing a VJ Day service in his constituency to work as a football linesman on Saturday.

The Scottish Conservative leader said: “I got this wrong and I apologise.” 

He also said he wanted to apologise to any veteran who was offended by his "error of judgment", and would donate his fee for the game, around £450, to the Help for Heroes charity.

However the Moray MP said he intended to keep up his controversial second job officiating at domestic and international games.

He said he would avoid clashes with other events.

READ MORE: Row sparked after Douglas Ross misses VJ Day service 'to help officiate football match'

Mr Ross made the humiliating climbdown less than a fortnight after becoming the new leader of the Scottish Tories on August 5.

He had been accused of showing “appalling judgment” and “arrogance” after snubbing local VJ commemorations in Forres to run the line at the Kilmarnock-St Johnstone game.

The Tories initially defended Mr Ross declining an invitation to attend the service, saying he had reflected in private on VJ Day and observed the two-minute silence at 11am.

However, after being condemned by all other Holyrood parties, Mr Ross’s U-turned.

He said: “I was selected to officiate a game before I was invited to the VJ Day event, and I offered apologies in advance that I could not attend.

 “I had not anticipated there being an official VJ Day event given the current restrictions due to Covid, but when it became clear there was a conflict, I should have asked to be taken off my game. I got this wrong and I apologise.  

“I am a proud and passionate supporter of the Armed Forces and our veterans. 

“I represent a constituency with a significant military presence and have worked with local and national charities supporting veterans throughout my time as an elected representative.  

“I made an error of judgement here and apologise to any veteran who was offended.  

“I will be donating my match fee from the game to Help for Heroes, a charity that does so much across the country supporting our veterans every day of the year.”

READ MORE: Douglas Ross refuses to deny 'plotting' against previous Scottish Tory leader

VJ Day marked the Japanese surrender to the Allied forces in 1945 and honoured those who serving in the conflict.

Mr Ross himself promoted the commemoration on social media, tweeting: “We remember all those who served in the Second World War as we mark the 75th anniversary of the peace they secured.  We remember the veterans who came home and those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. We will remember them. #VJDay75.”

Mr Ross had also spoken of the “incredibly strong links between the armed forces community and the wider community in Moray” in the Commons.

In 2018, he told MPs: “I want to put it on record that our personnel and our veterans do outstanding service. We in this place should never tire of highlighting and praising what they have done and continue to do for their country.

“Moray has provided a home to the 39 Engineer Regiment at Kinloss barracks since 2012, when the Army took over the base from the RAF. 

“Further east along the coast, RAF Lossiemouth is one of the UK’s two RAF quick reaction alert stations.”

Last year, he said: “As the MP for Moray, I represent a large number of veterans.”

However the Sunday Mail revealed Mr Ross has turned down on invitation to honour veterans in Forres to get to the Kilmarnock ground 200 miles away.

Moray SNP MSP Richard Lochhead said: “The reason why Douglas Ross failed to turn up at the VJ Day 75th Anniversary ceremony in Forres was deeply disappointing and very disrespectful especially given Moray’s long association with the armed services.

"I am glad that, upon reflection, he has apologised.

"A pattern is emerging with Mr Ross who repeatedly fails to understand the impact of his actions and in this case he failed to grasp the significance of an event that was attended by civic leaders, local serving personnel and veterans.

"To treat such an important and unique ceremony as a diary inconvenience because he wanted to run the line at a football match speaks volumes about the man who is an MP and a party leader who aspires to be First Minister.

"The ceremony was about remembering the sacrifice of previous generations yet the local MP wasn’t even willing to make a small sacrifice to be there."

Labour MSP Neil Findlay said: “Douglas Ross needs to decide if he wants to join the long list of double jobbing parliamentarians who see parliament as a way to enhance their earnings such as Ruth Davidson, Donald Cameron and Ian Blackford, or if he wants to be taken seriously.

"The people of Scotland will not take kindly to another part-time politician.”

Scottish Green MSP Ross Greer added: “Douglas Ross has shown time and again that serving his constituents will always come second to his refereeing gig.

“He missed crucial votes when he was an MSP and as an MP, including during his time in Boris Johnson’s government.

“It seems incredible that someone who clearly has so little interest in his day job would want to take on more responsibilities as party leader.

“Then again, when you look at the number of Tory MPs and MSPs raking in the cash from work outside of Parliament, you realise they’re pretty much all as bad as each other.”

Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie added: “Douglas Ross said that his football duties would not get in the way of his political ones but it seems that he may have broken his own rules.”