TRANSPARENCY campaigners have called on SNP ministers to back up their rhetoric over openness with action after key discussions with the company that wants to establish a fracking industry Scotland went unrecorded.

John Swinney met with senior figures from Ineos in February with the Deputy First Minister receiving a 13-page briefing note from civil servants, which included details of the chemicals giant's controversial plans for unconventional oil and gas extraction, ahead of the talks.

But despite records of previous meetings between senior ministers and the firm being taken, including a summit between Nicola Sturgeon and company chief Jim Ratcliffe held at the same time that a fracking moratorium was announced, details of this meeting were not recorded. It means that details of what was discussed cannot be disclosed under Freedom of Information laws.

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Transparency International UK, the anti-corruption organisation, said the public had a right to know about the purpose of meetings with ministers. The criticism comes weeks after the Scottish Government issued a press release in which it claimed the title of "world leaders on openness and transparency" and boasted of being a "beacon of good government" on the world stage.

Duncan Hames, Director of Policy at Transparency International UK, said: "The Scottish Government has been keen to show how open and transparent it is compared to Westminster. This is healthy competition, but its rhetoric needs to be matched with concrete actions.

"The public have a right to know who’s meeting with ministers and public officials, why, and for what purpose. Without this information we’re all left in the dark about who’s trying to influence big decisions that affect our everyday lives."

Ms Sturgeon met with billionaire Mr Ratcliffe during the fracking moratorium announcement in January last year, although no mention was made of the talks at the time. It coincided with a surprise u-turn from Ineos, which has spoken out against a temporary ban days previously but then welcomed the development.

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A record was kept of the meeting, with the Scottish Government battling to keep the contents secret by resisting Freedom of Information requests. Further details, although not the full record, was eventually disclosed after the case was referred to the Information Commissioner.

Neil Findlay, the Labour MSP, said: "John Swinney's secret meeting with Ineos marks another low for openness and transparency from SNP ministers. They admit meeting with a company which stands to gain millions from fracking before the election yet incredibly despite the huge sensitivities and concerns around fracking they don’t bother to record what was discussed.

"That simply isn't good enough and is a slap in the face to Scots who deserve straight answers and expect transparency around Scottish Government meetings so that they know exactly what’s being said when the Government meets with a company that has a huge amount of money to gain from fracking across Scotland."

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The meeting between Mr Swinney and Ineos bosses Tom Crotty and John McNally, held on February 25, was arranged so that the company could discuss acquisition of North Sea assets and its investment plan at Grangemouth, which includes shipping fracking gas across the Atlantic. Two other topics for discussion were redacted in a briefing note released to the public. A decision over whether fracking will get the green light will be taken next year.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “It is not routine for officials to provide minutes of all ministerial or official meetings. These are typically produced where the meeting is formal in nature, such as a task-force, or where actions are expected to be generated. On this specific occasion there were no actions arising from the meeting, and none had been anticipated, therefore no minute was taken.”