HUMZA Yousaf has said he will look again at whether he can publish the secret findings of a bullying probe into one of the SNP’s most pungent internal critics.

The First Minister said he was “happy” to check if there was an absolute legal bar to releasing the outcome of an investigation into former cabinet secretary Fergus Ewing.

He said it was important to be “as transparent as we possibly can”.

Mr Yousaf was speaking the day after Mr Ewing made headlines by ripping up a copy of the Scottish Government’s marine conservation plans in the Holyrood chamber.

The former rural economy secretary called them a “notice of execution” for the communities which could be banned from fishing locally as a result.

READ MORE: Raging former SNP minister rips up HPMA plan in Holyrood chamber

While in cabinet, Mr Ewing was accused of bullying civil servants based in Edinburgh in late 2019, an accusation he “completely rejected” at the time.

In 2022, Nicola Sturgeon was urged to release the findings of the investigation by Holyrood's opposition parties, but refused.

The then FM cited "very considerable legal data protection issues", and said the information could only be released “if there is a lawful basis” to do so.

Mr Ewing also refused to speak about the finding, saying he was “bound by confidentiality”.

The Scottish Government later updated its bullying policy to ensure all future findings against ministers are made public, but the policy will not apply to past findings such as Mr Ewing’s case.

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In recent months, Mr Ewing, who backed Kate Forbes in the SNP leadership contest, has become a thorn in the side of the Scottish Government.

He has criticised former colleagues over the failure to dual the A9 and A96, the deposit return scheme, and Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs).

Asked today about the secret bullying findings about Mr Ewing, Mr Yousaf said: “My understanding of the reasons they weren’t released is because of some of the legals around that, but I’m happy to look again if that is the case.

“Of course, I’ve said it’s important we should be as transparent as we possibly can.

“But it’s important that we also respect the rights of the complainer as well as the person that’s being complained about.”

READ MORE: SNP councillors who complained about sex pest 'punished by party'

Asked about Mr Ewing ripping up the consultation document for HPMAs in parliament yesterday, Mr Yousaf said: "Fergus is entitled to do what he wants. He doesn't need me telling him how to perform in the Scottish Parliament. But we have said very clearly that when it comes to Highly Protected Marine Areas we’ll listen to the communities involved.

“We’ll ensure that we don’t impose upon any community that really vehemently opposes it, a Highly Protected Marine Area.”

Scottish Labour MSP Martin Whitfield said "After Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP claiming that the results of the bullying probe could not be made public, suddenly Humza Yousaf has been forced into this U-turn.

“It seems that all it took was Mr Ewing standing up to SNP top brass over HPMAs for this change to occur.

“What this amounts to is a simple attempt at silencing a critic of government policy through political arm-twisting.

“This is a damning demonstration of a party prepared to use the ministerial code to police its members rather than to uphold standards. The SNP’s reputation is in the gutter."