John Swinney has criticised climate activists for their “misplaced” campaign against investment firm Baillie Gifford’s sponsorship of book festivals.

The Wigtown Book Festival, Borders Literary Festival in Melrose and the Edinburgh International Book Festival have all ended their association with the company following pressure from protest groups.

All have expressed anxiety about their ability to deliver events without the funding.

READ MORE: Climate activists and Palestinian campaigners killing book festivals

During First Minister’s Questions, Labour MSP Neil Bibby asked Mr Swinney to convene an “urgent meeting with private and philanthropic supporters to ensure there is ongoing sponsorship of the arts and culture sector”.

The First Minister replied: “I’ve personally been deeply concerned by the events which have taken place, and I’ve personally spoken with the leadership of Baillie Gifford because I’m concerned about the targeting of that organisation, because I welcome the support that they provide in a philanthropic way to many organisations, and I reassured the company of the importance that I attach to their contribution to the economy.

"I think the disinvestment campaigns are misplaced. I don’t think they achieve their objectives. They are now jeopardising really important cultural festivals that I know Mr Bibby and I value equally.”

The First Minister said he would consider proposals for “further, more formal dialogue”.

The Fossil Free Book campaign have been calling on authors to boycott book festivals with links to Baillie Gifford, because of their investments in oil and gas, and coal, as well as Israel's defence, tech and cybersecurity industries.

When Edinburgh International Book Festival ended its long partnership with the company, Jenny Niven, the chief executive, said the “pressure” on her team had “simply become intolerable.”

READ MORE: Patrick Harvie: Book festival boycotts miss mark in divestment row

Nick Thomas, a partner with Baillie Gifford, said previously: “We hold the activists squarely responsible for the inhibiting effect their action will have on funding for the arts in this country.

“Baillie Gifford is a long-term investor with high ethical standards and a complete focus on doing what is right by our clients.”

He added: “Only 2% of our clients’ money is invested in companies with some business related to fossil fuels.”