AN SNP MP will today challenge the UK Government in court over its refusal to release secret independence polling.

Tommy Sheppard, MP for Edinburgh East, has been fighting to have the information released for years, and previously won an Information Commmissioner ruling to have the documents made public.

Despite this, the Cabinet Office has refused to hand them over, with Mr Sheppard now taking the government to court to obtain the information. 

The data, which will now be long out of date, relates to Westminster's public polling on attitudes towards the union and Scottish independence, which was funded by the taxpayer. 

Mr Sheppard originally requested it through a Freedom of Information request in 2019, which was rejected by the Whitehall department.

Since then, the Cabinet Office has appealed the ruling to hand over the information twice, with today's court appearance in the Upper Tribunal the first in-person hearing on the case. 

It is understood the UK Government is attempting to appeal the decision for a third time, despite the two previous requests being rejected. 

Alongside the 2019 request, the SNP has also called for the a public inquiry after The Herald revealed the former Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove used funds for Covid contracts to conduct research into attitudes to the union. 

READ MORE: Blackford orders inquiry into Tory union ‘polling’ spend

Mr Sheppard MP said: "It has been almost a year now since the Tribunal ruled that the information I requested on secret, tax-payer funded polling into public attitudes towards the union must be made public, and still they continue to refuse and appeal.

"It is clear that the Tories are desperate to hide these results, and the only explanation for this that makes sense is that it does not help their case for keeping Scotland under Westminster control.

"People are seeing the real cost of living with Westminster on a daily basis now. Every day we wake up to a new story about the Tory cost of living crisis and how millions are struggling because the Chancellor is cruelly failing to lift a finger to help, or new reports of the disastrous consequences of Brexit, or further sleaze, cronyism and corruption engulfing the Westminster government.

"Indeed, this is a UK government that used the money for emergency Covid contracts - from the public purse - to commission political research on constitutional issues, instead of for more PPE or to help doctors and nurses on the front line.

"The general public deserve to know how and why their money has been misspent - and it should not have had to go to court to make that happen.

"They should have published the data a year ago after being told to do so by the Information Commissioner. The UK government must now publish these findings without delay."