NICOLA Sturgeon has confirmed a previously secret meeting with the US fund manager paying George Osborne £650,000-a-year after it leaked in the press.

The First Minister’s office rushed out a parliamentary answer acknowledging a “business meeting” with BlackRock in New York earlier this month.

The firm pays the former Tory Chancellor £162,500 per quarter for a day’s work a week.

Loading article content

Ms Sturgeon also met global finance giant Morgan Stanley in the city “to further develop the relationships with key inward investors”.

BlackRock and Morgan Stanley have bases in Edinburgh and Glasgow respectively.

The Tories accused the First Minister of secrecy, as the meetings were first revealed by the financial journalist Iain Martin.

Mr Martin wrote on his blog that while Ms Sturgeon had boasted of other meetings in the US, she had been silent on the financial firms, “almost as though they don’t ?quite fit with Sturgeon’s progressive image aimed at her left of centre base in the West of Scotland”.

He said the SNP government also initially refused to confirm or deny the meetings took place, saying some meetings with “stakeholders” that were “not media-facing”.

The episode has echoes of Ms Sturgeon’s collapsed £10bn investment deal with a Chinese huckster last year, which appeared in the Chinese press before being confirmed at home.

Tory economy spokesman Dean Lockhart said: “Nicola Sturgeon raced to every camera available in America when it suited her.

“Yet now, just like the Chinese investment shambles, we only find out about important meetings between the First Minister and potential investors through leaks and media reports."

Ms Sturgeon’s spokesman said: “This is a bizarre attack by the Tories. The First Minister meets with businesses and potential investors all the time and makes no apology for doing so.

“If the Tories want to try and scare away valuable investment and jobs from Scotland, they are going the right way about it with ridiculous statements like this.”