SCOTTISH crime writer Val McDermid has said that misogyny directed towards former first minister Nicola Sturgeon is "disgusting".

In an interview with The Times, the popular author said she struggled to believe some of the abuse directed at Sturgeon on social media.

She said she hoped that Scotland had made some progress following her time working as a journalist although it sometimes felt like what was being said comes from the “Dark Ages”.

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“There are a lot of men who do not like the idea of a successful, powerful woman, in whatever walk of life,” she said.

“I have seen some of the tweets, some of the trolling she (Sturgeon) gets and frankly they are disgusting.

“They would not speak to their mothers, their daughters, their wives, or their girlfriends like that – it depresses me beyond belief.”

McDermid spent 16 years working as a journalist and said she hoped Scotland had made progress in terms of people being “offensive about your appearance, your gender, your sexual choices”.

However, she said she “had her doubts” when looking at some of the misogyny directed towards Sturgeon.

“I really thought we had made progress in recent years but we are in some respects back in the Dark Ages”.

The author added that her own approach to abuse was “to ignore it, to get on with your life and continue to behave in the best way you can, to be decent, generous and kind”.

“I brought my son up to have respect for women and I see the way that he lives his life, and I am proud of that.

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“It’s sad that people hide behind aliases online because they have this well of bitterness and vitriol inside themselves.”

She added: “People come up to Nicola all the time to say she did an amazing job. I am often in England where people say, ‘you had the best leader out of the lot of us’.”