SNP demand investigation after Alister Jack breaks ministerial code


THE SNP are calling for an investigation into Alister Jack after The National pointed out an article containing praise for the Scottish Tory leader was published on a UK Government website.

The Scotland Office usually publishes articles written by the Secretary of State on the UK Government’s site, with any party political content removed.

However, as first highlighted by The National, an unredacted copy of Jack’s May 5 column for the Scottish Daily Mail was reproduced without removing praise for Jackson Carlaw.

A UK Government spokeswoman said it was “posted in error” before being removed.

SNP MSP Emma Harper has now written to Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill calling for an investigation into what she argues is a “clear and explicit breach” of the ministerial code.

The code states Government communications must not be “biased or polemical” and “should not be – and not liable to being misrepresented as – party political”, while the civil service code also instructs staff not to “use official resources for party political purposes”.

READ MORE: Alister ‘Union’ Jack left red-faced after breaking ministerial code

In her letter to the head of the civil service, Harper writes: “The use of the UK Government website to promote a Scottish Conservative politician, specifically referencing his party position, appears to be a clear and explicit breach of all of the above guidance.

“You may be aware that, when concerns were raised by a journalist over this use of the UK Government website, the Scottish Office accepted it had been published in error and removed the relevant text. This appears to be an acceptance that the column was a breach of the ministerial code.

“I would be grateful if you could confirm what investigation will be undertaken into these events and what enforcement will be undertaken if it is determined a breach has taken place.”

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon blasts back at Alister Jack over ‘lockstep’ claim

In the column, Jack argued Scotland should ease the coronavirus lockdown restrictions “in lockstep with the UK as a whole”, rather than pursue a different route out.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon issued a stinging rebuke to the Scottish Secretary, stating she would do what was best for the people of Scotland.

A UK Government spokeswoman commented “An unredacted version of the Secretary of State’s Scottish Daily Mail article was posted in error on gov.uk. This has now been amended.”

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