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The Tories have insisted they deleted a tweet criticising Nicola Sturgeon over the Scottish exams results fiasco because of a spelling mistake - not because they were trying to dodge criticism for their own results debacle.
The Scottish Conservatives had claimed the SNP leader had “presided over one of the biggest scandals in the history of devolution” in the days before her administration performed a U-turn over results decided by a “biased” computer algorithm that disproportionately hit poorer young people.
Accusing the first minister of having “shattered the life chances of thousands”, the post shared by scores of senior MPs but had disappeared.
But after dozens of people pointed out the post had been deleted, it was shared again, with the incorrect spelling 'effected' replaced with 'affected'.
It comes as an A-level crisis hits England, with thousands of young people whose results have been downgraded from their teachers’ assessments preparing to lodge appeals with Ofqual.
The regulator insists that there is no evidence of bias in the way grades have been decided during the Covid-19 crisis, when students have been unable to take exams or attend school or college amid lockdown.
But an analysis of results by Ofqual itself suggests a higher proportion of poorer pupils – 10.4% – were knocked below a C grade than richer pupils – on 8.3% – after teacher assessed grades were moderated.
Education secretary Gavin Williamson moved to broker a compromise on Wednesday night by telling students they could appeal based on a mock exam result if it was higher.
But it is as yet unclear how many would benefit and Boris Johnson’s government is under pressure to backtrack.
HuffPost UK has contacted the Scottish Conservatives for comment on the deleted tweet.
Their new leader Douglas Ross, meanwhile, has suggested he would be prepared to challenge Johnson if the results disadvantaged some young people.
Some say the exam results in England cause me difficulties.— Douglas Ross MP (@Douglas4Moray) August 13, 2020
My job as leader of @scottories is to get the best for young people & everyone in Scotland. It’s not my job to support the UK government on everything. I’ll challenge them when I believe they're wrong. https://t.co/jbQkKY9S3E
Asked if he would be willing to press ministers over the results, he said: ”Absolutely. Any child anywhere in the country who has issues with these exams results has the right to express that, complain about it, and I will support them with that.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.