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Douglas Ross is a qualified football referee

The leader of the Scottish Conservatives has apologised for missing a VJ Day event to work as a linesman at a football match.

Douglas Ross said he was wrong to officiate at the Scottish Premiership game rather than attend a two-minute silence in his Moray constituency.

His apology came after his absence was highlighted on the front page of the Sunday Mail.

It sparked criticism from opponents, including Labour MSP Neil Findlay.

He told the paper that the MP’s decision “shows his appalling judgement and, frankly, his arrogance too”.

The apology comes less than two weeks after Mr Ross was confirmed as the leader of the Scottish Conservatives following the resignation of Jackson Carlaw.

The MP, who is also a qualified football referee, was a linesman at the match between Kilmarnock and St Johnstone at Rugby Park.

In a statement issued on Sunday morning, the MP said he was selected to officiate at a game before he was invited to the VJ Day event in Forres.

He offered his apologies in advance that he could not attend.

“I had not anticipated there being an official VJ Day event given the current restrictions due to Covid, but when it became clear there was a conflict, I should have asked to be taken off my game,” he added.

“I got this wrong and I apologise.”

Mr Ross said he would donate his match fee – believed to be about £445 – to the veterans charity Help for Heroes.

“I am a proud and passionate supporter of the Armed Forces and our veterans,” he added.

“I represent a constituency with a significant military presence and have worked with local and national charities supporting veterans throughout my time as an elected representative.

“I made an error of judgement here and apologise to any veteran who was offended.”

Despite the pandemic, a series of events were held across the UK to mark the 75th anniversary of VJ Day – the day World War Two ended with Japan’s surrender.

The Prince of Wales led a two-minute silence at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.

And in the Scotland crowds watched the Red Arrows over Ayrshire. Their planned flight over Edinburgh Castle was cancelled due to the weather.

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