DOUGLAS Ross has been grilled over "prejudiced" comments he has made about the travelling community.

During Tuesday's live election debate on STV, the Scottish Tory leader was put under pressure for saying he was “disappointed and frustrated that we seem to have to bend over backwards” for the travelling community but stressed he was taking up concerns raised by locals.

Mr Ross was quizzed by Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie over his remarks made against the “long-persecuted community”.

Mr Harvie accused Mr Ross of having “broken trust with them” after when asked in an interview what he would do if he was prime minister for the day, he said he would bring forward tougher enforcement against gypsy travellers.

Mr Harvie added: “You’ve campaigned against their right to legal traveller sites for a decade and when your attempts to stop one of them failed you complained about what you called ‘having to bend over backwards for this ethnic minority’.

“Is it your whole party that is prejudiced against gypsy travellers or just you?”

Mr Harvie said: “You’ve repeatedly accused other of being divisive during this campaign. You think even letting the people of Scotland choosing their own future is divisive.

READ MORE: Recap: Nicola Sturgeon takes on party leaders at STV election debate

“I want to suggest to you that you’ve built your political career on divisive language and action against one of Scotland’s most marginalised communities – the gypsy traveller community.”

Pointing to his initial comments about tougher enforcement for travellers, Mr Ross said he has previously apologised.

He added: “They were wrong, it was the wrong answer to the question that was well put. I should have answered it far better.”

In response to his remarks made in 2013 about “bending over backwards for this ethnic minority”, uncovered in an article by Open Democracy, Mr Ross insisted he was looking out for his constituents.

He said: “In my 10 years as a local councillor and in my time as an MSP and an MP, I’ve always stood up for constituents who have come to me seeking action on issues that they are worried about.

“There was a big issue and we formally had a legal site. It had to be closed by over 100 officers from the former Grampian police because of illegal activity which took place there.

“I will continue to act on behalf of constituents who come to me as a representative, seeking help and advocate the points they put forward.”

READ MORE: Leaders' debate: They came, they saw, they shouted in a good old fashioned pile on

Mr Ross was pressed over what he can personally do to make amends.

The Tory leader said: “There is far more I can do and everyone can do. “I’ve had communication during this election on the cross-party group that’s established in Westminster and also I’m sure will be re-established in Holyrood.

“There’s definitely more we can do for gypsy travellers here in Scotland. I’m willing to open those discussions, to accept the mistakes I’ve made in the past but also work with all communities here in Scotland going forward.

“I will never, ever refuse to stand up to constituents who come to me seeking help, seeking support.”