Nicola Sturgeon has defended the independence of an academic appointed to carry out a review into the exam grades scandal.
The Scottish Conservatives said the First Minister should consider removing Professor Mark Priestley over tweets he had sent in the past expressing support for the SNP.
The Daily Record reported Prof Priestley tweeted that voting for a candidate dropped by the SNP for using anti-Semitic language could “perhaps” be “the lesser of two evils”.
The University of Stirling education professor was also reported to have said the clear message in many constituencies was “vote SNP or get a Tory”.
Asked about the professor at the daily coronavirus briefing on Thursday, Ms Sturgeon said her job is not to “interrogate” the political views of people appointed for such roles.
She said: “Mark Priestley is a respected academic and I don’t think anybody could credibly or reasonably doubt his credentials for this job, his experience, skills and aptitude.
“So yes, I do think he’s the right person.
“This is the bit that will sound party political so I apologise and I don’t intend it to sound boastful about my party’s position.
“But on the basis of current opinion polls, more than half of all the Scottish population intend to vote SNP so there would obviously be an issue if we started to exclude people who have qualifications to do things from doing these things because they might vote SNP.
“I wouldn’t exclude somebody who was qualified because they voted for another party.”
Earlier this week, Prof Priestley was asked to conduct a review into the situation around exam results being downgraded by a controversial moderation process which was later scrapped.
His initial report is due in five weeks.
The Government U-turn led to a vote of no confidence in Education Secretary John Swinney in the Scottish Parliament, which was defeated with the support of the Scottish Greens.
Scottish Conservative education spokesman Jamie Greene said: “The much-heralded SNP plans for a so-called ‘independent review’ into the SQA exams fiasco have unravelled already.
“Less than 24 hours after the Greens saved Mr Swinney from the sack, after his second humiliating U-turn in just a few months, it looks like another scandal has engulfed the Education Secretary.
“Scottish parents and pupils demand a truly neutral and fully independent review into the exams fiasco. They will not put up with a whitewash.
“While Mr Priestley is a respected academic, people will rightly question the views of someone who judges that a candidate suspended by the SNP for anti-Semitism is ‘the lesser of two evils’.
“If the SNP are serious about righting their wrongs over this fiasco, and if the public are to have any faith in this review, they must consider removing Mr Priestley.”