NICOLA Sturgeon’s recent controversial trip to North America cost taxpayers £44,000, it has emerged.

In response to a freedom of information request, the Scottish Government said the First Minister’s flights alone cost £7098, including business class from to Washington DC and the return flight from Toronto and five nights in hotels another £950.

Seven support staff ran up £21,025 in flights, £6644 in accommodation, and £3064 in subsistence.

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The government said all flights were economy class, except when Ms Sturgeon and her private secretary travelled business class on the two transatlantic legs.

Cars cost £3082 in the US for “standards SUVs” and £2144 in Canada for an SUV and a mini-bus.

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The government refused to name Ms Sturgeon’s hotels on security grounds.

The Tories said the FM had pushed independence on last month’s visit, while she said she was promoting Scottish business.