A former Scottish Secretary has described Humza Yousaf’s meeting with the Turkish president as “bizarre".

Helen Liddell told the Scottish Affairs Committee that the discussion between the two men at the COP28 summit in Dubai should never have happened.

The First Minister met with Recep Tayyip Erdoğan without a Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) representative, triggering a diplomatic row with the UK Government.

READ MORE: Diplomatic row over Erdogan meeting escalates

Foreign Secretary David Cameron wrote to Angus Robertson to complain and threatened to close down Scottish Government offices in embassies and high consulates.

The SNP’s leader’s team said the get-together on the fringes of the climate summit last year had been arranged with “just a few minutes' notice."

Correspondence released to The Herald revealed that it was Mr Yousaf himself who requested to meet with the Turkish delegation at COP28.

It also revealed that he went into the meeting without a proper briefing.

Baroness Liddell, who served as Scottish Secretary between 2001 and 2003, and then went to Australia as British High Commissioner, told the Scottish Affairs Committee: “I must admit, as somebody who has been a diplomat, I think the discussion with the prime minister [sic] of Turkey was bizarre, and it should not have happened.

“And there should have been an official from the Foreign Office who was present at the time. There is a war going on, you don't muck about when there's a war going on.”

The Herald:

The former minister was speaking to the cross-party committee’s investigation into intergovernmental relations, alongside Douglas Alexander and Des Browne.

Both men also served as Scottish Secretaries under Tony Blair.

Baroness Liddell’s remarks came in response to a question from Scottish Conservative leader, Douglas Ross, who asked the witnesses for their views on the Israel-Hamas situation and whether the First Minister was “wrong with what he has articulated on this issue, and funding that has gone from the Scottish Government to support efforts in Gaza".

Lord Browne said he would “duck” the issue, but that he “abhorred the constant overlaying of this onto our politics".

He said the First Minister was “accountable to other people and not me".

READ MORE: Diplomatic row as Yousaf invites Erdoğan to Scotland

Mr Alexander, who also served as Secretary of State for International Development, said: “I think most people observing this hearing would want us not to be seen to be seeking to establish political advantage when people's lives are so profoundly in jeopardy.

“We've got 1.4 million people waking up today in Rafah, that's six times the size of the population on 7 October.

“They are deeply fearful. They are often hungry and I think I'll resist the opportunity which in other forums is taken to seek to establish any kind of political advantage, whether it be with the First Minister or not.”

During the evidence session, Baroness Liddell said she realised she "had it easy as Secretary of State" as she was dealing with her own party in the Scottish Parliament "and people that I respected".

She added: "Now, the nature of the debate is quite vicious. And it really needs to come into a place of calm, so that we can respect the democratic responsibilities of each side.

"I was very lucky, I was able to respect the Scottish Parliament and the people in that Scottish Parliament and understand it. But now when there is such a toxic atmosphere around Scottish politics, it really is quite disturbing."