Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson defends Diane Abbott after reports of relationship with Jeremy Corbyn

Reports have claimed the pair had a 'brief fling' in the 1970s

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Ruth Davidson has defended Diane Abbott following reports she was in a relationship with Jeremy Corbyn over 40 years ago.

The leader of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party attacked articles in The Times and The Daily Mail which claimed Mr Corbyn and Ms Abbott had a “brief fling” after the Labour leader separated from his first wife Jane Chapman in 1974.

In an article under the headline, ‘Jeremy Corbyn and Diane Abbott were lovers’, The Times also argued Mr Corbyn had questions to answer over claims he failed to intervene when the MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington “verbally attacked a female MP” who asked about his commitment to gender equality.

The article continued: “The revelation of Mr Corbyn’s relationship with Ms Abbott, which is not well-known among MPs, will fuel concerns about how he will control members of the shadow cabinet.”

Ms Abbot was a strong supporter of Mr Corbyn's bid for leadership and the pair have campaigned together on a number of issues as long time members of the Labour party.

Ms Davidson highlighted Mr Corbyn and Ms Abbott's professional history over more than four decades and warned suggestions that Ms Abbott's promotion to Shadow Secretary for International Development was in anyway related to her reported relationship with Mr Corbyn would be absurd.

Ms Davidson also criticised  Andrew Neil for drawing more attention to the claims by asking if it could “really be true that me old mucker, Diane Abbott, had a ‘brief fling’ with Jeremy Corbyn in the 1970s?” on Twitter.

She responded: “More importantly, who cares? As single adults, & before they were elected to Commons, surely this fails IPSOs public interest test?"

The BBC politics presenter defended his decision to tweet about the reports as he faced a backlash from a number of Twitter users who accused him of sharing gossip and emphasising trivial rumours, telling one: "Not every tweet has to be what you consider 'important'. Some can be just mildly interesting."

Corbyn's allies mocked the reports on Thursday as irrelevant and “non of anyone’s business”, according to The Mirror.

The Independent has contacted Mr Corbyn and Ms Abbott for comment.