JOHN Swinney has apologised after he was reported to the UK Statistics Authority for sharing an inaccurate graphic on social media – claiming it was impossible for two people wearing masks and being six feet apart from contracting Covid.

The Deputy First Minister, who is also the Scottish Government’s Covid Recovery Secretary, was criticised after sharing the graphic on Twitter earlier this week.

The Scottish Government was unable to validate the source of the information and yesterday, Nicola Sturgeon said she would “reflect” on the use of the information, which has been disputed by international fact-checking services.

Mr Swinney has now been reported to the UK’s national statistician, Sir Ian Diamond, over the incident.

The action led to Mr Swinney deleting the tweet and apologising for it.

He said: "I shared an image on Monday to illustrate that masks and distancing can help stop Covid transmission.

"I have now deleted the images as the figures in it were not verified.

"Sorry for that. But the message is unchanged: masks and distancing remain critical to beating the virus."

READ MORE: Covid Scotland: John Swinney criticised for 'misleading' and 'reckless' mask wearing risk tweet

Last month, the SNP’s Health Secretary Humza Yousaf was rebuked by the UK Statistics Authority for “inaccurate” child Covid claims, after he was reported by the Scottish Conservatives.

Annie Wells, Conservative health spokesperson, said: “A message from the Deputy First Minister that is essentially fake news has been retweeted nearly 1,000 times and has likely reached an audience in the tens or possibly even hundreds of thousands.

“The repeatedly poor judgement from the SNP Government on this issue is concerning. Fake news must be stamped out and we have reported this graphic to the UK Statistics Authority for their input, since SNP ministers will not act.”

READ MORE: Sturgeon says ministers will 'reflect' on use of graphics after Swinney row

Speaking at her Covid briefing yesterday, the First Minister said: "The Deputy First Minister tweeted an image that was intended to illustrate what is absolutely the case – that wearing face masks protects people from transmission of the virus.

"He was illustrating that point, and I think the more we can illustrate that point, the better.

"What I will say in addition to that is that I think we recognise that in seeking to illustrate that, we should take care to use properly verified graphics, and we'll certainly take that on board in terms of how we tweet that information in future.

"But getting the general point across, he is absolutely right to seek to do, as I seek to do on a general, ongoing basis as well."