The Scottish Government’s top official has been urged to investigate whether civil servants have become “nakedly political” and “gone native” under the SNP.

The Scottish Tories today wrote to Permanent Secretary John-Paul Marks citing “shameful” evidence submitted to the UK Covid-19 Inquiry.

It emerged this week that in July 2020, one senior Scottish official wrote to ministers warning  travel restrictions on Spain might ultimately cause trouble for an independent Scotland.

Director of External Affairs Scott Wightman said Scotland being out of step with the rest of the UK in imposing quarantine on travellers from Spain would be seen as “entirely political” by the Spanish Government.

He wrote: “They won't forget; there is a real possibility they will never approve EU membership for an independent Scotland as a result.’ 

READ MORE: Civil servant said Spain may block EU entry if travel not allowed

His email was sent to Nicola Sturgeon and other cabinet members, despite the then first minister claiming she had excluded all constitutional matters from her thinking.

The next day, Scotland lifted its restrictions on Spain, only to reinstate them five days later alongside the rest of the UK after Covid numbers there worsened.

The Scottish Government has insisted both decisions - which were announced by then Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf - were taken on the basis of epidemiological evidence. 

But in his letter to Mr Marks, Tory MSP Donald Cameron said that it appeared “illustrative of a culture within the Scottish Government which is focused overwhelmingly on independence”.

He wrote: “It is deeply troubling that a civil servant would appear concerned about what is, nakedly, a political priority of the Scottish National Party, rather than about the public health implications of exempting Spain from quarantine restrictions.”

Mr Cameron said that an independent Scotland applying for EU membership could not possibly be within the remit of a civil servant in a devolved administration, and asked Mr Marks if he therefore considered it had been “an expression of a political view”.

Urging Mr Marks to enforce the Civil Service Code, which requires staff to be politically neutrality, Mr Cameron said the apparent impartiality risked undermining public trust.

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The Tory MSP said later: “Much of the evidence at the UK Covid Inquiry points to an alarming and unacceptable politicisation of Scottish civil servants working for the SNP Government.

“Civil servants have a duty to be politically neutral yet it’s clear that many are, or were, acting in the SNP’s political interests. This is wrong. 

“Of course, the danger of civil servants ‘going native’ is not helped when SNP ministers deploy them on areas that are outwith the Scottish Government’s remit, such as their independence propaganda papers.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Throughout the pandemic the prime focus and intention of Ministers, clinicians and officials across the Scottish Government was to protect the people of Scotland from the harms of Covid-19, as noted in the closing statement made to the UK Covid-19 Inquiry Module 2A hearings. 

"The Permanent Secretary will respond to the letter received in due course.”