JEANE Freeman has been accused of lying to MPs about a meeting with the UK Government at the start of the pandemic.

Alister Jack, Secretary of State for Scotland, told a Westminster committee that the MSP and health secretary had misled them when she said she could not recall any communication with him about the virus crisis.

Mr Jack was being questioned by Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross about the comments made by Ms Freeman in June, when he appeared at the Scottish Affairs Commiitee this morning.

He said: "You said you had a long meeting with Ms Freeman in her office I believe you said, in Edinburgh. At least an hour with just yourself and the health secretary and then you were joined by the UK health secretary.

"Either you have misled this committee or Miss Freeman has misled this committee.

"I have a quote in which she told the Scottish Affairs Committe on the 11th June, saying she is not aware and could recall no communication with Mr Jack.

"Who has misled this committee?"

The Scottish Secretary replied simply: "She has."

He explained he ahd also raised the issue in a BBC interview following Ms Freeman's comments, but the broadcaster "didn't use the clip".

He continued: "But, yes, she has.

"My officials attended as well and it was on I think the 12th of March, late in the evening and it went on very late into the evening.

"I was there for probably an hour before the secretary of state Matt Hancock arrived, and the meeting went on for some considerable time after that."

Mr Ross, MP for Moray, said the committee would have to now "discuss what we would do, when a witness comes to the committee and potentially gives misleading evidence."

In June, Ms Freeman told MPs she met with Alister Jack "on one occasion during the pandemic" when asked what her relationship with the Scotland Office was like.

She said: "Before, as Minister for Social Security, and now, as Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport, I had no relationship in particular with the Secretary of State for Scotland. I met him on one occasion during the pandemic when Mr Hancock came to Scotland, as he also went to Wales and, I believe, Northern Ireland, and we had a late evening meeting at which Mr Jack was present.

"That is not to say that other parts of the Scottish Government did not have a relationship prior to the pandemic with the Secretary of State for Scotland, but in health we did not."

Mr Jack also said the communication between Holyrood and Westminster over the coronavirus pandemic had been a "one way street", accusing Nicola Sturgeon of being tight-lipped with the UK Government on the different approaches her government was taking in Scotland.

He said Ms Sturgeon had not told Westminster that she was excluding children from the "rule of six" on social gatherings, said the Scottish Government were doing things differently "for the sake of it" and urged the SNP administration to "be grown up".

He added that this had confused the public, saying: "We need to stop the confusion. We should actually just be grown up, and not be different for the sake of it.

"It hasn’t brought anyone to a different outcome. The prevalence of the virus is as is high in any part of the UK as another.

"On average all four nations are experiencing similar problems."