NICOLA Sturgeon signed off a £10,000 contract for a Nationalist comedian to front a government Covid campaign despite admitting her politics could blunt its impact.

The First Minister approved the deal even though Janey Godley was seen as being "on one side of the political debate in Scotland”, meaning she “may not speak to the maximum number of people”.

The Tories called it a "serious error of judgment" by the First Minister.

Ms Sturgeon was also said by her office to be “very supportive of Ms Godley”, who was signed up to promote Covid awareness, facing coverings and testing last August. 

Within days, the campaign was ditched and Ms Godley forced to apologise after “horridly offensive” social media posts came to light.

They included references to disabled people, Chernobyl victims and black celebrities.

After her tweets surfaced, the independence supporter donated her fee to charity.

A newly released freedom of information response shows the First Minister also approved Ms Godley for the job after health secretary Humza Yousaf raised his concerns. 

On August 30, Mr Yousaf’s private secretary emailed the First Minister’s Office to say that My Yousaf felt using Ms Godley could “be divisive” and “there may be many people who purposely switch off if she is fronting it”.

Mr Yousaf wanted an unnamed male celebrity to front the public health campaign instead as he would “be a better candidate, given his broader appeal”.

However the timescale was “tricky”, and if the man was unavailable or deemed unsuitable, “then Ms Godley should be pursued”.

Later the same day the First Minister’s office replied agreeing with the health secretary’s comments, but approving Ms Godley regardless.

An email said: “FM is content to clear but agrees with Cab Sec comments. 

“FM is very supportive of Janey Godley and she has been hugely helpful to our Covid messaging but she is perceived to be on one side of the political debate in Scotland and so may not speak to the maximum number of people.”

SNP MSP Russell Findlay said: “This astonishing revelation lays bare a serious error of judgment by the First Minister.

“Nicola Sturgeon opted to press ahead with her friend Janey Godley fronting a crucial public health campaign despite admitting she was seen as a partisan political figure who was likely to turn off large sections of the Scottish public.

“She ought to apologise for this irresponsible and unacceptable decision which also constitutes a misuse of public money.”

A previous FoI release in December showed Scottish Government officials had given ministers explicit warnings about Ms Godley’s participation coming with a risk.

On August 29, officials told Ms Sturgeon, deputy FM John Swinney and Mr Yousaf: “Ms Godley is supportive of the Covid-19 safety behaviours and is compliant herself. 

“She is available to participate next week and she carries an ‘no nonsense, straight talking’ approach, which appeals to a wide range of people in Scotland, particularly those of a younger age group. 

“Ministers should however be aware that Ms Godley can be outspoken about a number of subject matters including Donald Trump, other political parties, woman’s rights and topical stories. Ms Godley’s twitter page carries profanities regularly as does her social media content. So using Ms Godley does not come without some risk.”

Two days later, an email from an unnamed source said the campaign “was approved last night [August 30] by FM, so from Friday 3 Sept onwards we will be running with the new campaign. It’s likely this will run for 3-4 weeks.”

It lasted less than a week, after the Scottish Sun revealed her past remarks.

At the time, Ms Sturgeon tried to shrug off the affair by saying “these things happen”.

Apologising on Twitter, Ms Godley wrote: “These historic tweets that people have quite rightly found offensive are deeply hurtful and shows my lack of empathy and zero self-awareness and come from a time of ignorance in my life. 

“I am a firm believer in progress not perfection, I will continue to progress.

“People have every right to see who they are supporting and what values they hold and looking through their past social media is the way forward. I apologise for every single offensive word I wrote."

Last month the 61-year-old comic revealed she had been told she had stage three ovarian cancer following a hysterectomy.