THE OUTGOING CEO of Scotland’s publicly-owned investment bank was handed an exit payment of £117,500 instead of working her notice period.

Eilidh Mactaggart resigned as CEO of the £2bn Scottish National Investment Bank (SNIB) on January 27 – with the organisation eventually acknowledging she had quit due to personal reasons after ministers came under fire for a lack of explanation.

But The Herald can now reveal Ms Mactaggart was handed half of her annual £235,000 salary in lieu of her working her six-month notice period, despite quitting the post she had held since April 2020 with immediate effect.

Politicians have now called on Finance Secretary Kate Forbes to explain how the £117,500 payment was “appropriate”.

Documents also show that Scottish Government ministers went to great lengths to ensure media messaging was synchronised with that of the SNIB – while briefing notes for ministers included potential follow ups and “additional possible” questions they may face about the situation.

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Ms Mactaggart also received half of her annual £37,500 bonus, according to documents.

Scottish LibDems economy spokesperson, Willie Rennie, said: "There is undoubtedly more to this situation than ministers have been prepared to let on.

“If Eilidh Mactaggart quit for personal reasons or left for another role then it is far from clear why she would be due six months' salary as a payoff.”

He added: "The Finance Secretary needs to explain why this payoff was appropriate and why officials were so concerned about media-handling."

"Many previous Scottish Government economic initiatives have fallen apart at the seams, we cannot afford for this one to go the same way. I hope that Eilidh Mactaggart's replacement will last longer in post."

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Government documents indicate ministers should say they only found out about Ms Mactaggart’s resignation on February 18, one week before it was made public. But internal communications within the Scottish Government show that First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and the Finance Secretary were informed of the decision on February 11.

The papers also reveals that senior Scottish Government officials held a meeting with Ms Mactaggart on February 9, after she had tendered her resignation.

A briefing note prepared for Ms Sturgeon ahead of First Minister’s Questions, explicitly stated that “ministers were told on February 18 that the chief executive had resigned”.

But on February 9, a senior economy official in the Scottish Government held a meeting with Ms Mactaggart. Much of the content of the meeting has been redacted by the Scottish Government, but during the call Ms Mactaggart was “thanked” and was told “if she wished to contact me again she could do so”.

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Two days later, the Scottish Government’s most senior civil servant, permanent secretary John-Paul Marks, thanked the same senior official for “the careful handling and for keeping our ministers closely up to date as things unfold” – raising doubts over why ministers were told to say they had found out about the decision on February 18 instead.

Scottish Conservative shadow cabinet secretary for finance, Liz Smith, said it was "extremely concerning" that the Scottish Government "appear to have tried to blur goings-on at the Scottish National Investment Bank”. She added: “As usual, the SNP are doing all they can to avoid scrutiny and accountability. With so much public money – and indeed Scotland’s long-term economic prospects – at stake, the public have a right to expect their Government to be open and transparent.

“The SNP must urgently come clean about this murky saga, explain exactly why they appear to have misled the public over these dates, and face up to the scrutiny of parliament and the Scottish public.”

A spokesperson for the Scottish National Investment Bank said: “Eilidh was paid six months’ notice which was due under the terms of her contract of employment.

“No other financial settlement was made.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “As the First Minister told Parliament, Ministers had no input into the resignation of the former chief executive although were told earlier in February that the chief executive would be leaving the bank imminently.

“The chair of the bank, Willie Watt, advised Scottish Government officials on January 31 that the chief executive had offered her resignation. The Scottish Government and the bank discussed the possible terms of that resignation and potential successor arrangements over the following weeks – with ministers updated accordingly.

“On February 18, the resignation was formally confirmed to ministers. The former chief executive was paid in lieu of her notice period in line with the bank’s contractual obligations.”