NICOLA Sturgeon has called out a “nasty, unpleasant fringe” within the independence movement as she spoke out about the abuse and threats she receives on a daily basis.

The First Minister stressed that hateful rhetoric exists on both sides of the constitutional debate – and warned that some pro-indy extremists would label her a traitor.

Ms Sturgeon was speaking at an Edinburgh Festival Fringe event after BBC journalist James Cook was abused and called a traitor by pro-independence supporters in Perth last week.

The First Minister called out the abuse, branding it “disgraceful”.

 Ms Sturgeon was asked about the abuse uttered from some a minority of pro-independence extremists.

She said: “I’ve got strong opinions, I believe passionately in certain things but I believe fundamentally in democracy – in civilised, respectful debate and about the fact that in Scotland, whatever direction we choose to go in as a country, should be a collective decision we take through democratic means.

“There is a nasty, unpleasant fringe on the movement I represent.

“There is a nasty, unpleasant fringe on the movement on the other side.”

The First Minister added: “I have no hesitation in calling out, condemning where it is people who are in the SNP ensuring that we don’t tolerate that when that happens.

“Anybody who thinks that is all on one side is not looking hard enough.

“One of the hardest things to do is to call that stuff out when it is on your own side. It’s easy to call it our when it’s on the other side.”

She added that the “nastiness exists everywhere in politics” and called on rivals to “come together to drive it out”.

Referring to the abuse suffered by Mr Cook, Ms Sturgeon said: “I’ve got a suspicion, had I walked past these people that night, they would have hurled abuse at me as well – they would have called me a traitor.

“That kind of minority on the fringes of the independence movement thinks that I’m not a pure enough independence supporter.

“Thee people think they are doing my case or the case of independence any good other than in cloud cuckoo land frankly.

Ms Sturgeon highlighted to range of abuse she and other politicians face on social media on a daily basis.

She said: “If I was to go onto Twitter right now, I would find directed at me, abuse, vitriol, threats of violence, threats of sexual violence.

“I would find several parallel lives that I’m supposedly living – all of them a damn sight more glamorous than the life I’m actually living.”

When leaving the Fringe event, the First Minister was confronted by a handful of supporters from the ultra unionist group, A Force for Good.