Veteran Tory activists in Aberdeenshire North and Moray East have hit out at Douglas Ross after he moved to replace a hospitalised MP.

On Wednesday night, the party’s Management Board stopped former Scottish Office minister David Duguid from contesting the new seat as they claimed he was too ill.

Mr Ross then announced his intention to “lead from the front” and stand instead.

The shock announcement stunned local members.

READ MORE: Douglas Ross announces surprise bid to stand at General Election

Susan Emmison, who has been active in the party for the last decade, told The Herald there was “outrage” across the party. She said she cut up her membership card in protest.

“I know that there are many people overnight who have already resigned and people today will also be resigning, myself included.”

“David has done so much for this constituency and Douglas thinks he can walk in here and jump on to his coattails and take the glory for all the good work that David's done here over the last few years.

“It's just outrageous. It's appalling.”

Mr Duguid has been in hospital for an illness affecting his spine since early April, including a stay in a high-dependency unit.

He initially spent four weeks in the intensive care unit at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary before being moved to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Glasgow to complete his recovery.

Mr Duguid first made his illness public at the end of May when Rishi Sunak called the snap vote. The MP said at the time his intention was to contest the seat.

A spokesman for the party said they had a “basic duty of care to make sure our candidates are healthy enough to stand and their recovery, in this particular instance, won't be damaged by going through a difficult, physically demanding campaign."

"We're pleased that David's recovery is going well. We hope that continues. He's got our support throughout this process.

"We really hope the recovery continues and that one day he can stand for us again but the party Management Board felt that in the interim his recovery would be put at risk if he stood in this election."

However, Mr Duguid was contacted yesterday afternoon by the Scottish Sun. He told them he was fit to stand. 

Ms Emmison said that even if he was unable to canvas, there was a committed group of activists who would have been door knocking and on the phones and handing out leaflets for the politician. 

“He's got a magnificent team behind him, and he's very much respected in the community and we're just absolutely gobsmacked, and none of us had any idea this was coming.”

She added: "Douglas is basically just giving the seat to the SNP. He won't get the support.

“I’ve no doubt in my mind that David would get re-elected just for what he's done in the community, and he's done some super stuff, and that will not happen with Douglas Ross.

“There's just no appetite for him.

“I think he really needs to step back and reevaluate his attitude towards politics.

“I know politics is dirty, but this is below the belt.”

Speaking at a hastily organised press conference in Edinburgh on Thursday morning, Mr Ross paid tribute to his "friend and colleague."

He added that the constituency would be "very competitive, a hard-fought, close contest between the Scottish Conservatives and the SNP."

"I have decided I need to lead from the front," he said.

The party's approved candidates were informed that the incumbent was unable to stand at around 9pm on Wednesday.

Anyone wanting to stand had until 11am on Thursday to throw their hat into the ring.

With nominations for the July 4 vote set to close at 4pm on Friday, the process has been incredibly quick.

Members were only told about the location of the meeting to adopt Mr Ross as the candidate four hours before it was due to start.

Ms Emmison said she was not allowed to vote in the meeting as she had indicated to the party that she was unhappy and could resign.

Asked about anger from local activists at his press conference in the morning, Mr Ross told The Herald: "I understand there will be concerns, but crucially, a few weeks out from the election, this is a seat that we can win.

"We can beat the SNP and I know from local activists I've spoken to already who've urged me to consider standing, they are absolutely determined to continue the work that David's done for the last seven years to make sure we continue to have a Conservative MP for that area, and to make sure we stand up against the SNP, against their obsession with independence and against the way they've forgotten about that part of the country.

"The SNP have ignored the north east of Scotland and particularly that constituency with some of the key infrastructure issues that we've seen there, issues with the downgrading of local medical facilities, all of the points are crucial to voters on the doorstep and will be issues I'll be raising in the campaign, both locally but nationally against SNP."

READ MORE: David Duguid: Scottish Tories drop hospitalised candidate

Parliamentary rules mean Mr Duguid could lose out on a nearly £15,000 redundancy payment because of the change.

MPs who lose their seat or unsuccessfully stand for another seat are given twice the statutory redundancy entitlement as a loss of office payment.

Those who do not contest a seat do not receive the payment.

Mr Duguid would have received £14,700 for his seven years as an MP but will now not do so because the Tories binned him as a candidate.

However, if Mr Ross loses he will receive the loss of office payment. He was previously not set to do so as he had chosen not to stand.

SNP campaign director Stewart Hosie said: "It's utterly shameful that three-jobs Douglas Ross used David Duguid's illness to force him out of his seat.

"The fact that he now stands to benefit to the tune of thousands of pounds, while Mr Duguid loses out on redundancy support at a time of illness, makes it even worse.

"If Douglas Ross had any shame he would resign. Voters in Scotland can show Mr Ross and this dreadful Tory government the door by voting SNP on 4th July to put Scotland's interests first."