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

The new leader of the Scottish Tories said he was “wrong” to have rejected an invitation to mark 75 years since the end of the Second World War with a two-minute silence alongside veterans in his Moray constituency.

Rather than attend the event in Forres on Saturday morning, Mr Ross was running the line as Kilmarnock hosted St Johnstone.

Following criticism of his decision, Mr Ross issued an apology to any veterans who were offended and pledged to donate his match fee – believed to be approximately £445 – to the Help for Heroes charity.

Following his appointment as Scottish Conservative leader, Mr Ross said he would quit his job as a football official if he becomes first minister after the 2021 Holyrood election because his presence at football matches would cause too many problems for matchday policing staff.

READ MORE: Douglas Ross apologises for 'error of judgment' over VJ Day snub

He said: “I’ve made it clear I want to continue refereeing, however, that is something that I plan to do as leader of the Scottish Conservatives.”

The story sparked significant debate online as readers had their say. 

“The fact Douglas Ross chose to referee a football match instead of honouring Scottish people who died in one of the most vicious theatres of the Second World War tells you he's woefully unfit for public office let alone be the leader of the Scottish Tories. It's also very telling he's proud of being a referee, proud of his neutral blandness. A blandness which seems to make up a large part of his character. The Scottish Tory Party needs to wake up, go back to the drawing board and collectively read the entire works of Roger Scruton in order to understand what being a conservative truly means. Currently, they are a joke, an absolute joke.”

Jason McNab, 

“It has simply been an awful start to his ‘leadership’.”

Pete Wishart MP, Twitter

“Mr Ross and myself were invited to join civic leaders & veterans at Moray’s scaled back VJ Day ceremonies to represent our constituents and pay our respects. The reason why he failed to turn up is deeply disappointing and disrespectful.” 

Richard Lochhead MSP, Twitter

“Douglas Ross has commitments. He is an official on the UEFA list and officiates in the Champions League. Having the leader of the Scottish Conservatives in such a prominent sporting role is very beneficial.”


“This is utterly disgraceful conduct. This is a shambolic dereliction of duty and an insult to our veterans and servicemen and women.”

Marc Rich, 

“A seriously bad mistake by Ross not to have retired as a football referee. He has a serious full-time job to do representing his constituents for which he is well rewarded.” 

Andrew McMillan, 

“This is not the first time Ross has displayed errors of judgement, in the past, he has missed important votes because of refereeing football matches.”

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

Donnie MacLean, 

“Complete lack of moral fibre and judgement by Ross.

I despair for our future if this is the standard of conduct and decision making in public life that we have come to after the sacrifices made those who served.”

John McDonald, 

“This is, of course, a serious matter and shows Ross's complete lack of fitness to hold any kind of political office. His hobby should come second to his vocation as an MP - and it should be a vocation. Consider: this is the individual who has aspirations to be First Minister. Contrast his behaviour with the behaviour of the current FM, who has been there every single day during the pandemic, leading from the front. Ross isn't in the same league (no pun intended)” 

Robert Sim, 

“An obvious own-goal but how many of the detractors on here took the time to attend their local ceremony?” 

Jo Lawrence, 

“Douglas Ross has now apologised for his error of judgement. What level of judgement is needed to choose between attending a ceremony to remember the fallen in a constituency with two military bases, thousands of service people and their families, a civilian population with a long tradition of service in the Highland regiments and running the line at a football match ?”

John Jamieson,