JOHN Swinney has branded Celtic manager Neil Lennon's claims criticism of the club's Dubai trip was "politically motivated" appalling. 

The deputy first minister said he was "lost for words" after hearing the Parkhead supremos explosive news conference on Monday. 

It was the first time Lennon had spoken publicly since the Hoops returned from their winter training camp, during which he took aim at the media, politicians, and rival football clubs, accusing some of "rank hypocrisy". 

READ MORE: Furious Neil Lennon blasts 'hypocrisy' of Dubai criticism in explosive presser as Celtic player tests positive for Covid-19

Celtic have been widely criticised for the trip to the Middle East which culminated in defender Christopher Jullien testing positive for Covid-19 and a number of players and staff - Lennon included - having to self-isolate. 

Speaking on Radio Scotland today, Mr Swinney was asked what he thought about the comments. 

The education secretary said: "I am at a loss for words. I said a few weeks ago that it was a bad idea for Celtic to go to Dubai for this trip.

"It was not a great signal. I have no ill will towards Neil Lennon whatsoever but I think his comments were appalling." 

Earlier this month, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon shared her concerns about the trip to Dubai with the Scottish Government, SPFL, and Celtic all trading heated words over the team's permission for it. 

This ultimately led to an apology from the club's chief executive Peter Lawwell but on Monday Lennon refused to apologise to anyone except the fans. 

As well as taking aim at Sky Sports pundit Andy Walker, he accused many of looking on the club in a different light compared to the Scotland national team's post-Serbia celebrations or MP Margaret Ferrier's alleged rule breaking trip from London to Glasgow. 

READ MORE: Celtic boss Neil Lennon points finger at other Scottish Premiership clubs over their coronavirus protocols

Lennon said: "I think that is remarkable and blows out the water the way the trip has been portrayed by certain quarters of the media, by certain pundits and by certain government officials as well. We did not abuse any ‘privilege’, we did the right things, we were totally professional.

"We had a little drink in the afternoon on the day of, completely allowed, no law breaking.

"But we come back to this barrage of absolute hypocrisy."