OPPOSITION parties have been accused of "making up their own version of events" in a row over a multibillion-pound investment agreement signed by the Scottish Government with Chinese companies.

Political rivals had accused the First Minister of "keeping quiet" about a memorandum of understanding she signed with SinoFortone and China Railway No 3 Engineering Group before the Scottish Parliament was dissolved on March 24.

Scottish Labour said details of the "secret deal" only emerged after they were reported by Chinese media, while Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said it was "extraordinary" that the agreement had remained under wraps.

Investment company SinoFortone said the agreement will bring about infrastructure projects with a potential value of £10 billion in areas including clean energy, transport and affordable housing in Scotland.

Public services spokeswoman Jackie Baillie said: "Voters deserve the facts on deals the SNP Government have signed on their behalf.

"It simply isn't good enough to blame the purdah election period. The SNP signed this deal before that but kept it quiet - people deserve to know why."

Scottish Conservative chief whip John Lamont added: "It appears as if the SNP simply tried to hide this away until after the election. It's not good enough - Nicola Sturgeon must now set out exactly why this has only come to light now."

However, a spokeswoman for the First Minister said she was "more than happy" for the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) document to be made public, as it was uploaded to the Scottish Government website this afternoon.

The FM's spokeswoman said: "The First Minister is more than happy for this information to be in the public domain which shows that once again opposition parties are ignoring reality to make up their own version of events - a move which has backfired badly.

"As the Memorandum of Understanding, which the Scottish Government has published, clearly shows it is an agreement to have preliminary talks about potential opportunities for investment to support jobs and economic growth in Scotland.

"It does not relate to any specific projects or specific amount of investment, is not a binding legal agreement and does not commit any public funds.

"It is the job of government to secure appropriate investment for Scotland and to do what we can to boost the economy, as we have done in the case of Ferguson's shipyard and most recently when the SNP Government stepped in to secure a future for the Tata steel works in Dalzell and Clydebridge."

Controversy over the agreement comes amid claims that China is on the brink of "destroying" the UK's steel industry by flooding the market with cheap steel and imposing hefty tariffs on EU steel exports.

The MOU came to public attention when Chinese media picked up on details published on SinoFortone's website, where Ms Sturgeon was quoted as saying the agreement "will strengthen [Scotland's] economic links with China in a number of areas".

She continued: "New innovation collaborations between Scotland and China can deliver a boost in business growth for both countries and deliver benefits to Scotland as a whole.

"We have high hopes for Scotland's economy and it is in a strong position, but if we can drive further growth by looking beyond our shores and building relationships with firms across the world, then we will seek to make that happen."

Consul General Pan Xinchun said the agreement will benefit "not only Chinese enterprises but also the Scottish people".

The SinoFortone website also quoted businessman and SNP supporter Sir Brian Souter, who said: "It is a very positive step for Scotland to attract investment of this nature.

"SinoFortone's investment will be good for our economy, create jobs and enable growth. We look forward to hearing more about the specific projects and infrastructure that they are aiming to invest in."