The Tories have threatened to drag the Scottish Government’s top official into the row over Humza Yousaf misleading parliament unless he agrees to an ethics investigation.

MSP Liam Kerr said the First Minister’s integrity and credibility was “on the line” and demanded he answer a series of questions about his conduct.

He said that unless Mr Yousaf referred himself to his independent adviser on the Scottish Ministerial Code, he would involve the Scottish Government’s Permanent Secretary.

Mr Kerr said he would “escalate the matter” to John-Paul Marks, and demand that he “investigate whether civil servants were being asked to carry out political activities”.

It follows a bitter clash at FMQs yesterday between Mr Kerr and Mr Yousaf over whether the latter twice misled parliament about Scotland’s renewable energy capacity.In June, Mr Yousaf wrongly told MSPs that Scotland had the majority of the UK’s renewables resources, when in fact it has around a quarter of capacity.

READ MORE: Humza Yousaf accused of 'cover-up' after misleading MSPs

After Mr Kerr challenged the accuracy of his statement that day, Mr Yousaf replied two months later in a letter saying he had “intended to say ‘per capita’”.

However material released under freedom of information suggests Mr Yousaf couldn’t have known the per capita figure at the time, as his officials hadn’t produced it.

The calculation was not made until July, when civil servants were trying to find a formula that would retrospectively justify Mr Yousaf’s original statement. 

Mr Kerr said it showed civil servants had been “concocting excuses” for the FM.

After Mr Kerr tried to raise the issue at FMQs yesterday, Mr Yousaf said he wouldn’t take lectures from the party of Boris Johnson, which Mr Kerr called an “appalling deflection”.

The Herald:

The FM’s official spokesman later insisted Mr Yousaf had the per capita figure in mind when he spoke at FMQs in June, even though it hadn't yet been calculated within government.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton yesterday wrote to Mr Yousaf urging him to refer himself to his ethics adviser for a ruling on whether he had broken the Scottish Ministerial Code, which says ministers must tell parliament the truth or resign.

In a sign the Tories plan to harry the FM over the issue, Mr Kerr today issued a list of questions for him to answer:

  • Did you force supposedly impartial civil servants to breach the ministerial code on your behalf in order to try and save face?
  • How many officials were working on this response over a number of weeks?
  • Given your officials had the correct figures a matter of hours after FMQs finished on June 22, why did you not correct the official record there and then?
  • Why did it take you almost a month to inform officials of what you had intended to say on June 22?
  • Did you personally ask the Office of the Chief Economic Adviser to sign off on this response? If not, were you were aware of their involvement?
  • Will you now refer yourself to the Independent Adviser on the Ministerial Code?

Mr  Kerr said: “This is not a niche issue about process or protocol, this is about the First Minister twice being rumbled for misleading parliament – and by extension the country.

“His integrity and credibility is on the line. That’s why he has to answer these questions.

“The public deserve to know whether the First Minister personally instructed supposedly impartial civil servants to spend weeks concocting excuses for him, to try and spare his blushes.

“Humza Yousaf must urgently refer himself to the independent adviser on the ministerial code to decide if he knowingly misled Parliament over this response.

“If he doesn’t then there will be little option other than to escalate this matter further within the Scottish Government to determine whether this is another example of the SNP politicising our civil service.”

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 The Scottish Government has been asked for comment to Mr Kerr's demand for answer.

After FMQs yesterday, a Government spokesperson said: “The First Minister has clarified in writing to Liam Kerr MSP and the Presiding Officer that his intention was to say that Scotland has the majority of renewables per capita in the UK.

"This is a matter of fact evident when comparing renewables capacity of the nations of the UK.

“In 2022 Scotland generated more than three times the amount of electricity from renewables per capita than the UK as a whole.”