NICOLA Sturgeon snubbed an invitation to testify before MPs while agreeing to a round of farewell TV interviews in London, it has emerged.

The First Minister today spoke to a series of broadcasters, appeared on the ITV lunchtime chat show Loose Women, and gave a speech at the Royal Society of Arts.

The events were part of her so-called ‘farewell tour’ as she completes her last full week as SNP leader and First Minister, before handing over to her successor next Monday.

It has now emerged that, despite being in London, Ms Sturgeon refused to take up an offer to appear before the House of Commons Scottish Affairs Committee, blaming a full diary for being unable to give evidence.

On March 1, two weeks after she announced her exit, convener Pete Wishart, the SNP’s longest serving MP, asked her to appear, just as the Welsh FM had appeared before the Welsh Affairs Committee.

“We hope that in the final weeks of your premiership, you will grant a hearing with us, to reflect on your time as First Minister of Scotland,” Mr Wishart wrote. 

“Other House of Commons Committees that work closely with Governments across the UK have held informative, engaging, and useful evidence sessions with respective First Ministers.

“This includes the Welsh Affairs Committee, which was attended by Rt Hon Mark Drakeford MS, First Minister of Wales, on three separate occasions during this Parliament, and we are keen to emulate that successful model.

“We hope that you will accept our invitation on this occasion, following which we will seek to make further arrangements to find a suitable date for the evidence session to take place.”

However Ms Sturgeon opted for the studio lights instead of a grilling by opposition MPs.

The Herald:

On 14 March, she replied to Mr Wishart: "Thank you for your letter of 1 March inviting me to reflect on my time as First Minister.

"Unfortunately, I will be unable to take up your invitation as my diary is full over my final two weeks in office, as I focus on ensuring a smooth transition to my successor.

"Also, any policy specific questionswill be a matter for the incoming First Minister. I wish you and the Committee well in your ongoing work."

MPs today took evidence from SNP Constitution Secretary Angus Robertson instead, quizzing him about the Scottish Government's promotion of Scotland overseas.

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross, who is a member of the Scottish Affairs Committee, said: “It’s disappointing that Nicola Sturgeon couldn’t find time while in London for a busy schedule of chat show appearances and farewell interviews to accept the committee’s invitation.

“Despite being a serial critic of all things Westminster, the First Minister has repeatedly snubbed requests to appear before the Scottish Affairs Committee. 

“As someone who likes to make comparisons to other parts of the UK, this is in stark contrast to the First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford, who has already appeared before the Welsh Affairs Committee three times in this session.

 “Admittedly, she might have got a slightly tougher grilling from MPs than she faced on Loose Women but I’m sure she would have coped.

 “Nicola Sturgeon has snubbed her SNP MPs too by not meeting them while she was in London – but given the state of the party she’s leaving behind, perhaps it’s understandable she didn’t want to meet them.”

The Herald:

Liberal Democrat Scottish Affairs spokesperson Christine Jardine added: "It's frustrating that Nicola Sturgeon's farewell tour did not include taking time to address any of the issues of concern that the committee has identified. It's clear that she has prioritised personal appearances over public scrutiny of her government.

"On everything from ferries to the deposit return scheme, she is leaving Scotland adrift.

"What's even more scary is the prospect that her successors might be even worse."