The diplomatic row over Humza Yousaf’s meeting with the President of Turkey looks set to escalate after more details about the controversial bilateral were obtained by The Herald.

At the time, a spokesperson for the Scottish Government defended the decision to hold the meeting at the COP28 summit in Dubai without a Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) representative, saying it had been arranged with “just a few minutes' notice."

However, emails and WhatsApp messages released under Freedom Of Information suggest there was an hour-and-a-half between the meeting with Recep Tayyip Erdoğan being offered and the Scottish Government officials emailing their counterparts in the UK Government.

The correspondence also reveals that Mr Yousaf went into the meeting without a proper briefing as the Scottish Government document was “never finalised” and “was not cleared by senior officials or used to brief the First Minister ahead of his meeting with President Erdoğan ."

READ MORE: Yousaf triggered diplomatic row by meeting Turkey's President Erdogan

The meeting between Mr Yousaf and President Erdoğan sparked a diplomatic row, with Foreign Secretary David Cameron writing to Angus Roberston to complain, and threatening to close down Scottish Government offices in embassies and high consulates. 

The Tory peer said the SNP-Green administration had assured the FCDO that it would give "sufficient advance notice" of the meeting to allow one of his officials to attend, but that this "was not done."

A Scottish Government source pushed back at any suggestion of a protocol breach and said FCDO officials had been told in person about the meeting, and that, for whatever reason, they were not around when it happened.

​The correspondence released to The Herald shows it was the First Minister himself who requested the meeting with the Turkish delegation at COP28.

His aides reached out to the Turkish consulate in Edinburgh on November 30.

At 6:50pm, one of his officials told colleagues that they had a "chance for a quick brush by" with somebody from the Turkish government the next day, though at that point they did not know who. 

The meeting was added to the First Minister’s programme “as a tbc at 3pm.”

The Herald:

At 11:46 am the next day, the Scottish Government emailed the FCDO to alert them to the meeting in the afternoon, but did not mention the time.

A Scottish Government source told The Herald this was mentioned to a representative from the British embassy in person. 

The messages then show that the Scottish Government found out at 1:19pm that a meeting with President Erdoğan was possible, however, it required them to get to the Turkish pavilion immediately. 

The Whatsapp from a Scottish Government official read: "Turkey president offering to meet FM now in World Leader Summit"

"He is doing pull asides" another message read. 

Mr Yousaf had just left the building but was content to go back in through security to meet with the president. 

An official then told one of the First Minister's Special Advisers that they "can’t confirm timings" and that it would depend on when President Erdoğan left the world leaders summit.

At 2pm, one official asks, "When is the meeting?" another answers "now, 
if we can make it."

Fifteen minutes later another aide warned, "meeting not happening if we don’t move now."

READ MORE: Robertson insists Scottish Government follows FCDO protocol

Aides discussed telling the FCDO about the meeting at 2:19pm. “Do we need to flag bilateral with Turkey happening now?” one asked.

A minute later another replied to say they would “message BE (British Embassy)”

The Scottish Government then told the FCDO about the summit when the two men were meeting. An email at 2:46pm read: "Turkey is happening now."

The Herald:

When Lord Cameron's complaint was made public, the First Minister himself said the meeting, which had been put in his diary for 3pm, had been "rearranged at short notice by the Turkish president’s team."

He told the PA: "The FCDO official chose not to stay with the Scottish delegation the whole day, and because of that they ended up missing the meeting.

“Nothing was discussed that hadn’t been discussed at other meetings, such as the climate crisis, and in this particular meeting the issue of the Israel-Gaza conflict.”

As well as discussing the urgency of global action on tackling the climate crisis, I spoke to @RTErdogan & Lebanon PM @Najib_Mikati about the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza.

An immediate & permanent ceasefire is needed now.

Too many innocent children have died, it must stop.

READ MORE: Diplomatic spat: Yousaf slams 'petty and misguided' Cameron

Scottish Conservative shadow secretary for constitution, external affairs and culture Donald Cameron said: “Despite protestations to the contrary, this shows there was ample time for Humza Yousaf’s entourage to have a Foreign Office official present at his meeting with Turkey’s president.

“One-and-a-half hours is not most people’s definition of ‘a few minutes’ notice’, so it seems the First Minister was determined not to follow protocol for a reserved policy area.

“This FOI vindicates Lord Cameron’s response to the SNP Government and proves that Humza Yousaf was wilfully freelancing at COP on a policy area for which he’s not responsible.”

A UK Government spokesman said: “Foreign affairs is reserved under the Scotland Act and in such turbulent times, the need for the UK to speak on the world stage with one consistent voice is more important than ever.

“Our embassies and high commissions overseas have a strong track record of working collaboratively with the Scottish Government to promote the interests of the whole UK.

“We hope that we can resolve this without the need for further action, including the possibility that we no longer host Scottish Government offices in UK Government posts.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The First Minister met a number of world leaders at COP28 to discuss issues of shared interest, this meeting was no different.

"Due to late notice of this meeting, the brief was not cleared in advance by senior officials or used by the First Minister and he was instead briefed by officials and advisors in person on the day of the meeting.”