Senior MSPs and former ministers were among the nine parliamentarians who did not support the week long suspension of Fergus Ewing from the SNP's Holyrood group, The Herald can reveal.

Their number included the party's former national treasurer Colin Beattie, who was arrested and released without charge in April pending further inquiries as part of the long running police investigation into SNP finances.

The others who voted against the punishment were former cabinet secretary for rural affairs Mr Ewing, his sister the SNP MSP for Cowdenbeath Annabelle Ewing, leadership contender and former finance secretary Kate Forbes, who represents Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch and long serving MSP Christine Grahame, the MSP for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale. 

READ MORE: Fergus Ewing suspension inflames SNP tension amid deep seated problems

All three women stood beside Mr Ewing as he read out his statement after the decision which was made during a 65-minute long meeting on Wednesday night where he was represented by his lawyer John Campbell KC. A total of 48 MSPs voted in favour while four abstained.

Those who voted for the sanction, such as Mairi McAllan, the cabinet secretary for net zero, have said it was a "proportionate response" after, she said, Mr Ewing committed "a serious breach of the party's standing orders".

The four SNP MSPs who abstained in the vote were Ivan McKee, Ruth Maguire, Ben Macpherson and Stephanie Callaghan. First Minister Humza Yousaf and former first minister Nicola Sturgeon were not present at the meeting. Mr Yousaf was unwell while Ms Sturgeon had a prior engagement.

The Herald: SNP MSP and former finance secretary Kate Forbes.  Photo PA.

Mr Ewing's other backers were leadership candidate Ash Regan, who resigned as a minister over the gender recognition reform bill last year, Ms Forbes's campaign manager Falkirk East MSP Michelle Thomson, MSP for Cunninghame North Kenny Gibson, and Jim Fairlie, the MSP for Perthshire South and Kinross-shire. They all voted against the week long sanction.

"It was a very controlled debate and people had different views on why they decided to support Fergus," said one source, who pointed out that MSPs who are ministers and whips were obliged to vote for the motion to suspend. "I thought the vote was a good vote for Fergus in the circumstances."

It is understood that those who did not back Mr Ewing's suspension had different reasons for doing so with some having concerns about the process that was followed.

READ MORE: SNP MSPs vote to suspend Fergus Ewing from Holyrood group

SNP MSPs decided to strip Mr Ewing of the whip for one week because he voted back in June to support a no confidence motion brought forward by the Conservatives in Lorna Slater, the circular economy minister and co-leader of the Scottish Greens.

Disciplinary action is understood to have been paused then following the death of Mr Ewing's mother, the trailblazing SNP politician Winnie Ewing, who was key in bringing the party into the political mainstream.

Mr Ewing in recent months has spoken out against the Scottish Government on policies such as the new licensing regime for short-term rental properties, as well as the stalled deposit return scheme and planned highly protected marine areas, which has also been shelved.

He has been highly critical of the influence of the Greens on the Scottish Government, and has called for SNP members to be allowed a new vote on the Bute House Agreement which brought the smaller pro-independence party into power in 2021.

After Wednesday's meeting he said he had acted as he had done to protect the interests of his constituents.

Asked yesterday if he would rejoin the SNP after his suspension, Mr Ewing told journalists at Holyrood: “I have been suspended for a week, that was the decision of the group. I will have to consider that and decide what to do.”

He added: “I haven’t begun to do that yet because I’ve been focusing on speaking out in my constituents’ interests.”

READ MORE: Defiant Fergus Ewing says SNP no longer puts Scotland first

Mr Ewing has two weeks to decide whether he wants to appeal against the decision.

If he accepts his punishment but decides not to return to the fold then it would mirror the decision made in July by Angus Brendan MacNeil, the MP for the Western Isles, after he was disciplined at Westminster. Mr MacNeil was suspended for a week for breaking three-line whips to vote but then decided not to retake the SNP whip when his punishment was up. He was eventually expelled by the party.

The First Minister yesterday said he hoped that Mr Ewing would rejoin party colleagues at Holyrood after the punishment. 

“People should represent their constituents but, if you are a member of the SNP, elected on the SNP ticket, there is, of course, standing orders imposed that you have to abide as an SNP MSP,” he said.

Mr Yousaf said Mr Ewing was in breach of those standing orders, adding that a “very proportionate” sanction of a week’s suspension from the parliamentary group at Holyrood had been “overwhelmingly backed by MSPs”.

He added: “I hope that after a week Fergus is reinstated back as an SNP MSP.”

The suspension has reawakened divisions in the party exposed during the spring's leadership contest and comes ahead of the critical Rutherglen and Hamilton West by election next Thursday and a couple of weeks before the SNP's annual conference in Aberdeen in mid October.

Following his suspension Joanna Cherry, the SNP MP for Edinburgh South West, called Mr Ewing “a man of integrity” on social media, adding: “I’m glad there were rebels on this vote. His rebellion is the product of years of inadequate debate in our party about policy making. That needs to change. Don’t shoot the messenger.”

An SNP spokesperson said: "The process was agreed between the group and Fergus Ewing's counsel."