A campaign group has stepped into the row over the appointment of a 'vaccine sceptic' doctor to lead Scotland's Covid-19 Inquiry.

Dr Ashley Croft will present a "scene setting" report to the delayed inquiry tomorrow, over two days, in which he asserts that it "remains unclear if Covid vaccinations resulted in fewer deaths" despite widespread evidence to the contrary.

The Herald revealed that just four years ago Dr Croft - a former adviser to the British military in tropical medicine and infectious diseases - wrote a paper claiming that routine childhood vaccinations "could be contributing to increasing rates of autism", research that is now widely discredited. 

Human rights lawyer Aamer Anwar, who is representing bereaved families, has written to Lord Brailsford, who is chairing the inquiry, to express his "grave concerns" after it emerged Dr Croft was heavily criticised by a High Court judge in a case involving medical negligence in which he was called as an expert.

Dr Croft, who is a leading authority on the treatment of malaria, was asked to compile a "factual narrative" on the accepted scientific and medical understanding of Covid-19 up until the end of 2022.

His report is based on 22 pieces of research and is not thought to have been peer-reviewed.

READ MORE: Scottish Covid Inquiry lawyer demands answers over appointment of expert who touted widely-debunked vaccine claims

The campaign group Action for a Safe and Accountable NHS (ASAP NHS) has written to the inquiry seeking answers over his appointment.

Roger Livermore, founding member and a former Crown prosecutor, said: "On what basis was Dr Croft selected?

"He is known for his sceptical views on vaccines...particularly concerning when his scepticism was proved to be unfounded. 

"Was he chosen for his views or his connections? Who suggested him? Why?

"This is technical report of some importance. Has the report been peer reviewed? If so by whom and what were their comments?

"Dr Croft seems to have based his summary on a few RCT (randomised controlled tests).

"RCTs were understandably few in the pandemic. There [were few RCTs to draw much by way of conclusions."

The group is calling for an independent regulator to be appointed with investigatory and disciplinary powers to examine serious incidents in the NHS.

READ MORE: Scottish Covid Inquiry cost £8million before any public hearings 

Scotland is the only part of the UK without one and the Health and Safety Executive does not have the power to bring criminal prosecutions.

Research from the World Health Organisation (WHO) in November 2021 showed more than 27,000 deaths in Scotland had been saved by Covid vaccinations at that date.

Professor Neil Mabbott, an expert in immunopathology at the University of Edinburgh, said the evidence presented in Dr Croft's report focuses on early trials.

He said: "Since then over 13 billion vaccine doses have been administered globally.

"During their first year of use (between December 2020 and December 2021) it is estimated that they prevented 14.4 million deaths."

A spokeswoman for Dr Croft insisted he is not 'anti-vax' and said he recognised that vaccines had led to the virtual eradication of diseases such as polio.

READ MORE: Scottish Covid Inquiry: What can we expect?

She said he had prepared the report "diligently" and was instructed as an independent expert.

In the past few days, following The Herald articles, an update has been published on the inquiry website addressing some of the concerns around Dr Croft's report and appointment.

In states that core participants will be given the opportunity to question his selection and report findings at a later stage.

It states: "We have not provided an opportunity at this stage for questions to be put to Dr Croft – next week’s proceedings will be led by our Senior Counsel, Stuart Gale KC, taking Dr Croft through his material and putting questions to him.

"An opportunity will be provided in due course for core participants to apply to the Inquiry for questions you may wish to put to Dr Croft with regard to his presentation.

"We have received queries as to Dr Croft’s expertise. 

"Core participants are of course entitled to question the expertise of any and all persons who provide information to the Inquiry.  

"Where there are particular matters of substance that you would wish to  address with Dr Croft, this can be dealt with through an application to the Inquiry."

Scotland's Covid-19 inquiry has cost almost £8million so far despite not yet holding any public hearings, data shows.

It was set up in February of 2022 but has been hit with a number of delays including the resignation of chairwoman Lady Poole, who was replaced by Lord Brailsford.