Last summer, during a rather heated radio phone-in, Education Secretary John Swinney came under pressure from the public on a range of issues from school vacancies to teacher stress and workload.

With the debate around the introduction of standardised assessments for primary school children still raging, Mr Swinney was also asked why five-year-olds were being tested.

READ MORE: Top academic: 'I was misrepresented by Scottish Government on P1 testing' 

Mr Swinney told listeners it was vital schools intervened to help pupils as early as possible and that, while there were those who opposed assessments in P1, others emphatically argued in their favour.

The Scottish Liberal Democrats decided to put that claim to the test issuing a freedom of information request to the Scottish Government asking who those people were.

The response from officials appeared authoritative enough, referring to “extensive research” highlighting the positive benefits of formative assessment.

“For example, Dylan Wiliam ... presents research that shows formative assessment practices have a much greater impact on educational achievement than most other reforms,” it said.

The response came as something of a shock to Mr Wiliam when presented with it this week by The Herald, describing it as a "substantial, and perverse misrepresentation" of his work.

Crucially, while Mr Wiliam believes some early assessments can help evaluate the progress of pupils, such as with basic letters and sounds, he does not believe the Scottish assessments are capable of providing the sort of support that would lead to improved teaching.

The Scottish Government argues there was no intention to imply he supported the policy, but Mr Wiliam is deeply troubled by the inclusion of his name, given the rather marked disparity between his views and the policy.

“The interesting question, of course, is whether the author of this document really believes what is written here, in which [case] he or she is too stupid to be doing that job, or whether they know they are being deliberately misleading,” he said.

As Liberal Democrat Tavish Scott has already pointed out, it is completely unacceptable for the work of such experts to be referenced in this way either by accident or design.