WILLIE Rennie has hit back at the First Minister for singling him out for criticism after his complaint about her use of Covid infection rates was dismissed by the UK statistics watchdog.

The LibDems MSP reported Nicola Sturgeon to the UK Statistics Authority after she claimed, correctly, that “infection levels in England are over 20 per cent higher than those in Scotland”.

ONS data suggestion in both England and Scotland, one in 20 people were estimated to have the virus, but the percentage increase between the two nations was just under 22%.

READ MORE: Willie Rennie's complaint over Nicola Sturgeon's data use dismissed by statistics watchdog

Yesterday, Ms Sturgeon highlighted the response from Sir David Norgrove, the chair of the UK Statistics Authority, who replied to Mr Rennie, insisted the FM “was comparing these two proportions and correctly stated that the figure for England was more than 20% higher than the figure for Scotland”.

But Mr Rennie raised a point of order in the Holyrood chamber to respond to the criticism by Ms Sturgeon.

He said: “Integrity is important, which is why I am here today. I was criticised by the First Minister in her statement to Parliament yesterday but was unable to respond.

“Numbers are important, the whole picture is necessary to understand those numbers. That’s why I asked the UK Statistics Authority to investigate the First Minister’s selective use of percent difference.”

Mr Rennie added: “I was concerned with how the First Minister had presented the Covid rates in the UK, so I’m grateful to Sir David Norgrove for his guidance on best practice.

“On Friday, I acknowledged that rates were lower in Scotland, referencing 5.47 per cent and 4.49% in my letter. However, I was concerned that the First Minister had not used the ONS official formulation of 1 in 20 for both Scotland and England nor the percentage point difference of one point.

“When the First Minister used her unique platform to attack my request for expert opinion, she failed to quote all the letter, including the section from the authority – that percentage points and percent can be used together to give the public the fuller understanding of the numbers.”

Mr Renie continued: “Having selectively used the statistics on Thursday to make her political point, the First Minister then repeated the behaviour when she selectively used the sections of the letter from the statistics authority to make her political point again.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon reported to statistics watchdog over claims she 'twisted' Covid figures

“This is not about trying to prove that the cautious approach taken by the First Minister didn’t work. How could it be, as I’ve always been in favour of caution throughout the pandemic. This was about being straight with the people.”

In his letter Sir David did not say the First Minister should have acted differently or that she should have set out all the different metrics – but he did say that “comparisons between the two estimates should take account of the precision with which they are available”.

He added that the percentage proportions “can be made easier to understand by quoting the two numbers being compared”.

Yesterday, Ms Sturgeon said that “a cursory glance” at the data “would have shown that it was accurate”, adding that the complaint was “uncalled for”.

She added: “Given that others have sought to draw that comparison, inaccurately, in an attempt to undermine confidence in the Scottish Government's decisions, I hope all members will not accept the conclusion of the chair of the UK Statistics Authority that the data I cited was indeed accurate.”