ONE of Richard Leonard’s mutinous MSPs has accused him of “hiding behind the rulebook” amid a row over the ability to challenge the Scottish Labour leadership which could end up in court.

Yesterday, Daniel Johnson and James Kelly, two of Mr Leonard’s Labour MSPs, wrote to party officials for clarity over how a leadership contest can be triggered.

The UK Labour party rules allow a contest to take place if 20 per cent of the parliamentary party sign up to it.

The rebel MSPs say they have the necessary signatures needed – but Scottish Labour general secretary Michael Sharpe said the UK rules could not be used as a “precedent”.

Speaking on BBC Good Morning Scotland, Mr Johnson has now indicated the fiasco could end up in court.

READ MORE: Labour chiefs reject bid by MSPs to spark Richard Leonard leadership challenge

When asked about the potential for court action, Mr Johnson said that “it’s certainly challengeable and I think we need to look at all our options”.

He also accused Mr Leonard of “hiding behind the rulebook” instead of facing a leadership challenge, as he indicated he would do last week.

Mr Johnson added: “We seem to be in the slightly odd situation where a few days ago we had the leader of the Scottish Labour party saying he’d accept any challenge – now there seems to be a claim that no challenge is possible. That seems fairly absurd.

“Fundamentally, there’s a point of fairness here. Even constituency party chairs have to submit themselves for re-election once a year. The UK leader of the Labour party may be challenged if a fifth of MPs submit a challenge.

READ MORE: Labour MSP: It's 'now or never' for party to replace Richard Leonard ahead of election 'disaster'

"But apparently the Scottish Labour leader uniquely holds office without qualification, a caveat or limitation. I don’t think that’s fair, I don’t think that’s reasonable and I think it’s certainly highly questionable.”

Mr Johnson was asked whether there was a candidate ready to take on Mr Leonard in a leadership contest, but he stressed that it would not be “sensible or reasonable to put forward a candidate until we’ve established what the rules are”.

A Labour source said: "Leonard is now a squatter who refuses to accept there are eviction rights".