THE SCOTTISH Tories have accused the SNP leadership candidates of “shameful and increasingly hysterical attacks” on the media.

The party's chairman Craig Hoy has written an open letter to Kate Forbes, Ash Regan and Humza Yousaf urging them to stop "castigating independent journalists."

His plea comes ahead of tonight's televised hustings on STV. 

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In his letter, he accused the SNP MSPs of encouraging attacks on the press: "In every single one of the SNP's leadership hustings so far that have been publicly livestreamed, the audience have deemed it necessary to attack journalists, the media or both."

"Rather than distance yourselves from these attacks, you appear to have encouraged them," he added. 

Mr Hoy pointed to an interview with Ms Forbes where she seemingly blamed the media for the tricky start to her campaign as she defended her views on social issues such as equal marriage.

Asked on the BBC’s Sunday Show, if her views would create “big problems," she replied "mostly because journalists want to keep going back to those problems.”

The Tory also referenced a SNP activist at the Cumbernauld hustings who asked what the candidates would do to "counter the misinformation, lies and antipathy aimed at our party on a daily basis by journalists based in Scotland."

Mr Yousaf described it as "an excellent question."

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When another member said the candidates were getting into bed with their "mortal enemies" by agreeing to a TV hustings, Ms Regan said she agreed. "I think that we all know we've got a fairly hostile media."

At last night's hustings in Dumfries, she also seemed to suggest that the Tory vote in the South of Scotland was because viewers did not have access to STV.

"I do wonder if there's a correlation here between the media that we're getting in this part of the world and the voting pattern," she said to applause. 

In his letter, Mr Hoy wrote: "In light of this hostility towards the media, I am writing to ask you to play a full part in rejecting hyusterial attacks on the independent media which are widely seen as pandering to the worst excesses if anti-media paranoia from within your own party."

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The Tory chair finished his missive by saying that "scrutiny from journalists is part and parcel of being in government."

The three leadership candidates have been approached for comment.