Scotland is no longer in a public health emergency and so the imposition of harsh regulations and business closures is unlawful, a former Tory MSP has said. 

Adam Tomkins said that last year, it was "harsh and necessary" to close down businesses, however, it is no longer necessary and is, in fact, unlawful to remain in similar lockdown.

The legal academic, who stood down from Holyrood ahead of the recent Scottish Parliament election, made the comments on this week's episode of The Brian Taylor Podcast, where the conversation focused on the implications lockdown has caused on businesses across the country. 

They joined by The Herald's Westminster correspondent Hannah Rodger, business minister in the Scottish Government Ivan McKee, Stuart McKinnon of the Federation of Small Businesses, and Mhairi Taylor, owner of Glasgow-based Cafe Ziques.

"The pandemic is still with us, the disease has not gone away, and the scientists tell us that we may be at the beginning of a third wave with it in Scotland. But the emergency has gone away," he told the podcast. 

"The emergency has gone away because, like Ivan, I was a member of the Scottish Parliament when we passed these regulations back in March last year, and I remember the circumstances in which we passed them. We passed them because we were terrified."

His comments came as lockdown restrictions ease across much of the country from tonight. Glasgow is moving from Level 3 to Level 2, and 15 areas in Scotland will move into Level 1 restrictions from midnight tonight. 

READ MORE: Follow our live blog as Sturgeon prepares to give lunchtime Covid-19 update

However, plans to ease lockdown restrictions in much of Scotland have been paused. 

Edinburgh, Dundee and Stirling are among 13 local authority areas which will stay in Level 2 for the time being.

Mr Tomkins added: "A year and a half ago, it was harsh and necessary to close down businesses, it now is not necessary. It is unlawful. I really have no doubt about this.

"These are emergency regulations that are designed for a public health emergency that is no longer with us, and that must be exercised only where necessary, and where necessary means where it is the least restrictive available means.

"That’s what the law says - it’s not my law, it’s actually European human rights law. It’s enshrined in the Scotland Act, it’s enshrined in the human rights act, it’s part of the fabric of the fundamental legal architecture.

"It’s not making a party political point, if we were talking about regulations in England made by Boris Johnson’s ministers I’d be making the exact same point.

"It’s unlawful to use emergency powers, when there isn’t a public health emergency."

In response, Mr McKee told the podcast: "I welcome what Adam’s saying - it’s important that we’re reminded of this fact, and it’s absolutely fundamental. 

In January, we had 2000 people in hospital with Covid, so only a matter of a few weeks ago we were back in a very desperate situation, and I suppose the concern is, and has been over the last three months, that we don’t tip back into a third wave.

"Progress has been made while we’re moving through the Levels, and that will continue to happen."