ASH Regan's campaign is speaking to lawyers about whether to obtain an interdict to pause the SNP leadership contest, The Herald can reveal.

The former community safety minister's camp is concerned at how the race is being conducted and believes the party has given rival candidate Humza Yousaf an advantage.

"We have been speaking with our legal team. We are looking at all options. We are scoping out possibilities, all scenarios are being planned for," said a senior source when asked if the Regan campaign would be applying for a court interdict to pause the race.

The Herald was told of the discussions taking place inside the Regan team as turmoil continued inside the SNP with the party's media chief at Holyrood Murray Foote last night announcing his resignation.

READ MORE: FM aide to quit after Regan raises concerns with civil service chief

His statement came just hours after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon's closest aide Liz Lloyd revealed she would be exiting government when Ms Sturgeon steps down from office.

Mr Foote, a former editor of the Daily Record, revealed he was leaving his role after being given incorrect SNP membership numbers to give to the media by party HQ. 


First Minister Nicola Sturgeon's top aide Liz Lloyd.    Photograph: Getty.

His departure adds to the pressure on SNP chief executive Peter Murrell to apologise over the situation.

Talks about a potential legal action by Regan's campaign come after her team and that of fellow leadership candidate finance secretary Kate Forbes questioned the integrity of the race to succeed Nicola Sturgeon as SNP leader and First Minister.

Meanwhile, the SNP's longest serving MP Pete Wishart called for an inquiry into the election once it was over.

"You don’t get more ‘loyal’ than me but when this leadership contest is concluded we need the broadest possible inquiry into some of the issues around the mess that has been so unnecessarily self inflicted," he wrote on Twitter yesterday following Mr Foote's resignation.

Concerns by candidates over how the race was being run deepened this week when it emerged Ms Lloyd was involved in Mr Yousaf's bid for the top jobs.

Asked what reasons there could be to pause the race, the insider pointed to Ms Lloyd helping health secretary Mr Yousaf, the First Minister telling Mr Yousaf that she was to step down before informing his prospective rivals and the use by an SNP MSP of a party email address to campaign for Mr Yousaf.

READ MORE: SNP media boss quits accusing party HQ of giving him false information

Ms Regan's team yesterday brought up their concerns over Ms Lloyd's involvement in the contest with the head of the civil service in Scotland, Permanent Secretary John-Paul Marks.

Hours after the meeting Ms Lloyd announced she would be stepping down from her role when Ms Sturgeon left office. She said that had been her intention since Ms Sturgeon announced her resignation.

"We don't know how long [Liz] has been involved," said the Regan team insider. "It just adds to the pattern of behaviour at SNP HQ which we have difficulty trusting."

The source said "it wasn't a smart move"  by Ms Sturgeon to tell Mr Yousaf about her decision to resign before telling the other prospective candidates.

They also referred to an issue at the start of the campaign where Ms Harper used her SNP email to urge members to back Mr Yousaf. The same privilege should have been afforded to the other candidates, said the source.

READ MORE: Murrell urged to apologise for SNP's 'barefaced lies' about membership

"That was denied point blank when we asked. We asked the national secretary to remedy the situation by providing similar access and she said 'no we won't be doing that'. 'Emma has apologised and we are satisfied' [we were told]."

Discussions are ongoing between the Regan team and legal experts with a decision yet to be made regarding an interdict.

Some of her advisors are reluctant to push ahead with the move amid fears it would annoy SNP members who want to see the race completed according to schedule. Voting opened on Monday and is due to continue until March 27. The winner is expected to be announced later that day.


The contest began after Ms Sturgeon announced last month she would be standing down after eight years as First Minister and SNP leader.

It has seen Ms Regan, Mr Yousaf and Ms Forbes embroiled in heated exchanges over the SNP's record in government and whether the party should maintain the Bute House Agreement with the Scottish Greens.

Bitter attacks were launched at the start of the contest against Ms Forbes after she said she would have voted against same-sex marriage had she been an MSP in 2014. She has since said she would protect legal rights over equal marriage and abortion, which she also personally opposes.

Angry rows also erupted over whether the new First Minister should launch a legal challenge to the UK Government over its block to the Gender Recognition Reform Bill passed in Holyrood in December.

READ MORE: SNP leadership contenders set out the road to independence

Ms Forbes's and Ms Regan's team on Thursday demanded that an independent auditor be allowed to oversee the vote following concerns about the "integrity of the ballot process."

The criticism came just hours after chief executive Mr Murrell,who is married to Ms Sturgeon, was forced to back down in a secrecy row over membership numbers.

All three candidates had called for the figures to be published to aid transparency but initially the party said details would only be shared at the "conclusion" of the election.  The party on Thursday revealed that its membership now stands at 72,000, down from a peak of 125,000 in 2019.

Meanwhile, Ms Regan said yesterday she is ready to "hit the ground running" if she wins the race to succeed Ms Sturgeon after her meeting with the Permanent Secretary.

She met with Mr Marks at the Scottish Government's headquarters in Edinburgh to lay out her vision for Scotland if she becomes First Minister. The same offer has been made to all three candidates.

"It was a pleasure to meet the Permanent Secretary today, and to share my vision for the way forward for Scotland," Ms Regan said.

"The positive, constructive, inclusive vision I have been advocating for over my campaign, includes the independence commission which would be announced on day one alongside the civic-led Convention".

"I will hit the ground running, I will reach across party lines, and I will deliver for the people of Scotland.

"There are huge priorities in both the NHS and with the economy suffering a cost-of-living crisis.

"We will tackle them and all else with the full power of parliament and government.

"The Permanent Secretary will now ensure the plans I have previously set out, are communicated, and the formations of the delivery plan are established.

"I look forward to working with him following a successful leadership bid."

Speaking to reporters in Holyrood on Thursday Ms Sturgeon said she did not understand why concerns were being raised about the legitimacy of the ballot and challenged critics to put forward specific allegations.

She said she had complete faith in the ballot and that the process had been used and trusted for years. She said the company running the ballot was independent from the SNP and that other than a failure to publish membership figures she was “not absolutely clear what the specific allegations about the process are”.

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said: "The Permanent Secretary has offered to meet with all three leadership candidates as part of the civil service's preparations to support the new First Minister."