THE Scottish Government has been accused of airbrushing the recession from its independence White Paper in an attempt to present a rosier economic case for leaving the UK.

First Minister Alex Salmond yesterday came under fire over a government analysis comparing Scotland's economic performance with a group of small independent countries from 1977 to 2007 - the year before the banking crisis.

The figures, which are cited extensively in the blueprint, suggest Scotland would have been better off as an independent state over the 30-year period.

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However, new economic modelling, looking at the period 1982 to 2012, including the recession - showed Scotland would have been worse off by up to £2400 per person as an independent country.

The new figures were produced by Holyrood's politically impartial information centre.

Seizing on the revelations during the First Minister's Questions, Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont asked why the First Minister had "hand-picked" out-of-date figures for the White Paper.

She told MSPs: "The First Minister is asking the people of Scotland to trust his white paper. But it looks back to a period which favours the First Minister's case when over the last 10 years, the last 20 years, the last 30 years, the overwhelming evidence is we would have been worse off."

Speaking later she added: "To try to make their figures work, the SNP have tried to airbrush the banking crisis out of their figures.

"They have suppressed the real numbers and don't expect people to notice that they have fiddled the figures.

"The SNP's contempt for the truth and the people of Scotland is breathtaking."

The First Minister quoted separate government figures showing an independent Scotland would been less in the red, compared with the UK, to the tune of £12 billion over the past five years.

He said: "£12bn is a great deal of money, that could have been used to invest in the Scottish economy, to promote Scottish jobs, it could have been used to borrow less."