The Lord President, Lord Carloway, has had a complaint to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission over an email sent by a QC rejected as "totally without merit", STV news has reported.

The professional misconduct complaint against Andrew Smith QC concerned an email to a solicitors' firm about the possibility of a client appearing as a party litigant.

In the email, sent in 2014, Mr Smith said the Scottish courts "do not cut any slack to party litigants because of their status. In fact, in my experience, they generally enjoy cutting them off at the knees before doing so above the neck. If he goes alone he can forget about justice instructing the result!"

Lord Carloway complained that the comment undermined mutual trust between lawyers and judges, and was detrimental to the public confidence in the administration of justice.

However the SLCC accepted Mr Smith's position that he provided advice in the email with the client's best interests in mind "in a manner that plainly made use of hyperbole in a tone that was not intended to be taken literally".

It is not known how the email came to light.