THE Unionist parties have worked together to elect a Tory who was struck off the teaching register after calling Nicola Sturgeon a “drooling hag” to a paid role overseeing education in Fife.

Kathleen Leslie, a Conservative councillor for the Burntisland, Kinghorn and Western Kirkcaldy ward, was narrowly elected to be the convener of the Education Scrutiny Committee on Tuesday morning.

Leslie’s nomination was put forward by Councillor Dave Dempsey, the only other Conservative to sit on the committee, and seconded by Councillor Aude Boubaker-Calder, a LibDem.

After the Tory was nominated, the SNP raised concerns that her past record made it inappropriate for her to convene the education committee.

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Councillor Alycia Hayes, the SNP’s nomination for the convener role, told the meeting: “Can we be advised if it’s competent that a councillor who was suspended by the General Teaching Council for two years is an appropriate person to be nominated as convener of this committee?”

Leslie agreed to be removed from the teaching register after being reported to the General Teaching Council Scotland (GTCS) over offensive tweets she posted about the First Minister.

She called Sturgeon a “wee fish wife” and a “drooling hag” in tweets sent ahead of the 2014 vote, when the SNP leader was deputy first minister.

However, concerns were dismissed by council officials who said that as an elected member there was no bar to Leslie holding the convener role.

Leslie also refuted claims her appointment would be inappropriate, insisting she had a "pretty strong record" which showed she would perform the role well.

The National:

When it went to a ballot, the Scottish Conservative group leader (above at the online meeting) was elected to the paid convener role by eight votes to seven.

While the SNP councillors backed Hayes, every Conservative, Labour, and LibDem councillor present at the meeting backed Leslie.

SNP councillor Craig Walker said the support for Leslie “demonstrates just how desperate Labour are to hold on to power in Fife”.

He added: “We wouldn’t say that anybody who has been suspended by [the GTCS] should be in a position that is scrutinising education. It beggars belief that the Labour Party would stoop so low as to do this.”

Labour took control of Fife council after the local elections in May – despite returning their worst ever result in the former stronghold.

The party’s 20 councillors control the 75-seat council as a minority administration after winning the backing of both the LibDems (13 seats) and the Tories (eight).

The SNP’s Walker, who represents the Glenrothes West and Kinglassie ward, said the Labour Party were “pretending” not to run Fife Council in a coalition.

“Voters will be appalled,” he went on. “The party that said they wouldn’t do any deals are doing exactly that but pretending it’s a minority administration. They have got people on the payroll so the votes are likely to be secure.

“They are relying on a grand coalition to sustain a minority administration.”

READ MORE: Douglas Ross poses with Tory council candidate who called Nicola Sturgeon a 'fish wife'

Ahead of the local elections in May, Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said he did not want his councillors striking any formal deals with other parties.

As well as Leslie, Fife also has Dempsey – the former Tory group leader – convening the Standards, Audit and Risk Committee, a position Walker says has traditionally been held by the main opposition party.

The SNP MSP for Kirkcaldy, David Torrance (below), said Labour should "hang their heads in shame" for the deals struck with Tories across Scotland.

The National: SNP MSP David Torrance had a warning for Labour

He said: "Just when we thought the Tory and Labour grubby deal in Fife could not get any worse, Kathleen Leslie has been appointed as chair of the Education Scrutiny Committee – despite being struck off the teaching register years ago. Her appointment was even supported by Labour councillors.

"This is laughable, you could not make it up, but it demonstrates the depths the Labour party will plunge to in order to make a deal with the Tories.

"This is not the first grubby deal made in Fife between Labour and the Tories and it certainly will not be the last, unfortunately for the people of Fife and across many parts of Scotland it has been vote Labour, get Tory. Anas Sarwar should hang his head in shame for supporting the Tories against the people of Scotland."

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Responding to the criticism, Leslie said: “My job is to scrutinise council policy on education.

“I’m coming at this with a background of five years on the education and children’s services committee. I attended every single meeting of that and I have a pretty strong record of scrutinising policy.

"I intend to scrutinise the council’s policy on education, I’m not here as a mouthpiece for the administration.

“I’m more than willing to work with the SNP and the LibDems on what they want to see scrutinised.”

Scottish Labour was approached for comment.