SNP bosses ignored a plea to stop South Lanarkshire councillors involved in a bungled £1million employment tribunal from standing for re-election.

Councillor David Watson urged Nicola Sturgeon to consider if the trio were “fit for public office” after a devastating judgment in the case last year.

Cllr Watson quit the SNP after 36 years in 2018 after being ousted as chair of the council leisure quango, South Lanarkshire Leisure and Culture (SLLC).

He was forced out after refusing to bow to a demand by the council's then SNP leadership that the council should be involved in a workplace grievance at SLLC.

Cllr Watson said the SLLC, as an independent charity, had to keep its distance and use its own lawyers, who took a different view to the council.

The issue ultimately led to SLLC boss Gerry Campbell winning damages  for unfair dismissal and disability discrimination after being wrongly dragged into the affair by the council, with taxpayers left with a £1million bill.

READ MORE: SNP council scandal leaves taxpayers with £1million bill

After Mr Campbell's employment tribunal also vindicated Cllr Watson’s position, he wrote to then SNP chief executive Peter Murrell last year, copying in Ms Sturgeon and then deputy First Minister John Swinney. 

Cllr Watson, who now sits on the council as an Independent for East Kilbride West, told them the tribunal painted the council and its SNP leadership “in a very bad light”.

He reminded Mr Murrell that he had written to him after his resignation from the party in 2018 but "did not receive any response from you”.

Cllr Watson said he had bullied into resigning as SLLC chair with the threat of emergency powers.

He complained about then SNP council leader John Ross, his deputy Maureen Chalmers and business manager Peter Craig. 

“The whole situation is now likely to cost the public purse a considerable amount of money," he wrote.

“Can you please advise if you think these individuals are fit to represent the SNP and are fit for public ofice?” he asked Mr Murrell.

Mr Ross and Ms Chalmers were re-elected as SNP councillors in May 2022, while Mr Craig, who replaced Cllr Watson and SLLC chair, did not stand. 

Cllr Chalmers is now community wellbeing spokeswoman for the council group Cosla.

Cllr Watson said Mr Campbell’s case was “one of the biggest scandals to hit Scottish local government in recent times” and the tribunal judgment was “a daming report on the action of the council’s SNP leadership at the time”. 

He told the Herald: “It has cost the public purse over a million pounds and could easily have been avoided if the SNP politicians had listened to the advice being given by SLLC’s independent lawyers.

“SNP council group leader John Ross and deputy leader Maureen Chalmers should resign or be removed from post as they have shown themselves not fit for public office. 

“If they refuse to resign, the SNP should remove the whip from them. 

“It is time for SNP councillors to stand up and be counted – will they back Cllr Ross and Chalmers or sack them?

“If they do not remove them, they will be complicit in this scandal and they will have no credibility when discussing hard pressed budgets in the future.

“The actions of the SNP leadership nearly destroyed the reputation of a long term and respected member of staff and put him and his family under extraordinary pressure.”

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon - I’m certain that I have done nothing wrong

Labour wrested control of South Lanarkshire from the SNP last year.

Cllr Ross and Cllr Chalmers were contacted for comment.