An inquiry has been ordered into how a civil servant’s account of a meeting between Nicola Sturgeon and the French Ambassador was leaked to the Telegraph. The memo contained the revelation that Sturgeon had admitted that she would rather see Cameron continue as Prime Minster as Ed Miliband is “not PM material”. Sturgeon and the Ambassador both deny the claims.
On Friday the Telegraph published details of a leaked memorandum written by an experienced UK civil servant immediately after a telephone discussion with the French consul-general who had been present at the meeting between the French Ambassador, Nicola Sturgeon, and a number of other Scottish ministers.
The memo read, in part: “Just had a telephone conversation with Pierre-Alain Coffinier (PAC), the French CG [consul-general]. He was keen to fill me in on some of the conversations his Ambassador had during her visit to Scotland last week. All of this was given on a confidential basis.”
It continues: “The Ambassador….had a truncated meeting with the FM [Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister] (FM running late after a busy Thursday…). Discussion appears to have focused mainly on the political situation, with the FM stating that she wouldn’t want a formal coalition with Labour; that the SNP would almost certainly have a large number of seats… that she’d rather see David Cameron remain as PM (and didn’t see Ed Miliband as PM material).”
As the story broke, Sturgeon denied the comments and wrote to the Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Haywood to demand an inquiry into how the memo was leaked.
Sir Jeremy has now confirmed that an inquiry will take place, responding: “You have asked me to investigate issues relating to the apparent leak of a Scotland Office memo that forms the basis of this morning’s Daily Telegraph story.
“I can confirm that earlier today I instigated a Cabinet Office-led leak inquiry to establish how extracts from this document may have got into the public domain. Until that inquiry is complete I will not be making any further comment either on the document or the inquiry.”
The First Minister said: “This story has already been shown to be 100 per cent untrue – having been comprehensively rejected by both the French Ambassador and Consul General.”
However, when asked, Ms Sturgeon refused to say whether she though Ed Miliband was “Prime Ministerial”. Meanwhile, senior government sources have said that the civil servant who wrote the account is an “experienced and reliable civil servant” in whom they have faith.
Mr Miliband has said: “I think these are damning revelations. What it shows is that while in public the SNP are saying they don’t want to see a Conservative government, in private they are actually saying they do want a Conservative government.
“It shows that the answer at this general election is if you want the Conservatives out, the only answer is to vote Labour for a Labour government.”
And Willie Rennie, the Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, said: “The First Minister might deny reports of her tete-a-tete with the French but we all know a Conservative-only government is the result of this election that the SNP want to see. A Tory PM governing alone in Downing Street and veering to the right fuels nationalist fires back home.”