Calls for Nicola Sturgeon's 'culture of secrecy and cover-up' to be investigated after 'documents go missing'

A series of scandals which has seen documents go missing and key meetings not recorded has resulted in Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar writing to John-Paul Marks

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Scotland's new chief civil servant has called for the "dangerous culture of secrets" in Nicola Sturgeon's Government to be investigated.

A series of scandals which has seen documents go missing and key meetings not recorded has resulted in Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar writing to John-Paul Marks.

Mr Sarwar called on the new chief civil servant to undertake a "comprehensive review" on transparency within the SNP, with a public report made available on conclusion of the investigation.

Anas Sarwar has called for a 'comprehensive review' on transparency within the SNP.
Anas Sarwar has called for a 'comprehensive review' on transparency within the SNP.

He says the culture of "secrecy and cover-up" could be jeopardising democracy in Scotland and "infecting wider public life" as a result.

The Scottish Labour leader encouraged Mr Marks to deliver a "fresh start" and "restore the reputation of the civil service" by investigating the SNP Government activities.

Mr Sarwar pointed to the recent ferry scandal, as key documents, said to outline why the Government pressed ahead without a full refund guarantee, "cannot be located".

Audit Scotland revealed two ferries, ordered in 2015 by the Scottish Government, are now four years late and the bill to the taxpayer has risen above the original £97 million contract price.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar feels the recent ferry scandal is 'emblematic' of the SNP's 'culture of secrecy.' .
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar feels the recent ferry scandal is 'emblematic' of the SNP's 'culture of secrecy.' .

Mr Sarwar says the lack of answers from the SNP Government is "emblematic of a wider culture of secrecy," adding: "The documents either never existed, which raises questions about the role of the accountable officer, or they did exist and have subsequently been destroyed. Clearly this would be in breach of the civil service code".

Mr Marks' predecessor, Leslie Evans, faced widespread criticism over her role in the Scottish Government investigation into allegations against Alex Salmond.

The Scottish Government's legal battle with Alex Salmond has prompted fresh calls for an investigation into their activities.
The Scottish Government's legal battle with Alex Salmond has prompted fresh calls for an investigation into their activities.

It also emerged that no minutes were recorded for meetings held by the Scottish Government with their lawyers to discuss the legal challenge brought by Alex Salmond, which is said to have cost the taxpayer more than £500,000.

In his letter to the new chief civil servant, Mr Sarwar said:

Mr Sarwar said: "There is a corrosive culture of secrecy at the heart of the SNP government, which is risking the principles of transparency and accountability at the heart of our democracy.

“The ferry scandal and the SNP’s shameless attempts to dodge scrutiny and suppress criticism have laid bare a pattern of behaviour that has run through their government for years.

“After 15 years of SNP government, it will require a full overhaul to put a stop to cover-ups and closed-door government – but the new permanent secretary has a chance to deliver this fresh start".

In response to the ferry crisis, Ms Sturgeon last week denied any wrongdoing and insists that her Government did not stage a cover-up.