Britain’s most senior civil servant has confirmed the existence of a probe into the Scottish Government’s spending on independence. 

Simon Case told members of the House of Lords, that he and colleagues were “looking at some of these specifics” around officials in Edinburgh working on the SNP-Green administration’s push to leave the UK.

The Cabinet Secretary’s comments come just two weeks after the Scotland Office denied any such investigation was taking place. 

READ MORE: No law officer probe into Scottish Government independence spend

There was much confusion earlier this month when Labour peer George Foulkes claimed the Advocate General for Scotland was looking into how the Scottish Government spent taxpayer’s cash. 

That was soon rubbished by a spokesperson for the UK Government, despite the Cumnock Baron having an email from the law officer. 

During a meeting of the Lord’s constitution committee on Tuesday, Lord Foulkes asked Mr Case if the spending in Edinburgh was being looked at.

The Labour peer then asked specifically about Jamie Hepburn, the Scottish Government’s Minister for Independence, and the team of 20 civil servants supporting his work.

Mr Case responded: “We are looking at some of these specifics as we speak, and doing that with ministers at the moment to see whether we need to issue further guidance and clarification to civil servants about what is and is not appropriate spending.

“I don’t want to prejudge the outcome of that.”

Lord Foulkes then pushed the mandarin further. “The principle would be that normally they [civil servants] shouldn't be spending money and using their time on reserved areas,” he said. “Just to take a stupid example, if they were doing defence issues, it would be clearly crazy but surely the constitution is an equally important area.

“If civil servants are effectively supporting ministers who want to break up the United Kingdom, and these are United Kingdom civil servants paid for by taxpayers’ money, it would be a bit unusual and a bit worrying, wouldn’t it?”

Mr Case responded: “I agree with you it would be unusual and a bit worrying which is why we are looking at the specifics of cases that you and other members raise regularly in correspondence.”

Stressing the need to ensure the civil service remained impartial, Mr Case added: “To be clear, I believe that they have been looking at these edge cases diligently.

“But as I say, I want to go back round them all with colleagues in Scotland and with ministers to make sure we are doing absolutely what we should to protect and preserve that impartiality.”

Asked when any guidance would be published, Mr Case said: “I hope it will be weeks.”

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The SNP reacted angrily to the announcement. 

The party's leader at Westminster, Stephen Flynn said: “To have blurted out this anti-democratic stance in a House of Lords committee is a blunder for the UK government.

“We will see what emerges, but anything that further buries the notion that the UK is a voluntary union of countries will backfire in Scotland, and have the effect of boosting support for independence further

“This reflects a partisan political agenda, and Simon Case admitted that he is working with Tory ministers on potentially preventing the Scottish Government from fulfilling its democratic mandate to explain the case for independence to the people of Scotland.

“A majority of MSPs were elected on a pro-independence platform, and it is the policy of the Scottish Government for Scotland to become a nation state within the European Union.

“If Westminster imposes a double standard that the UK government can work to uphold the Union, but the Scottish Government can’t promote the benefits of independence, the idea that the UK is anything even close to a partnership of equals will have been tested to its destruction.”

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A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The Scottish Government was elected with a clear mandate to provide the people of Scotland with the information they need to make an informed choice about their future.  It is the role of the Civil Service to support the elected government of the day in developing and implementing its policies.”

Under Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish Government began publishing a new multi-part prospectus, Building a New Scotland, in June last year, with two further parts in July and October.

A fourth was published last month. 

During the SNP leadership contest, Mr Yousaf criticised the documents saying they were material “that frankly sits on a website and nobody reads”.

In November, it emerged 25 civil servants costing up to £1.5m a year in wages were working on the Scottish Government prospectus, including one paid up to £83,000.

The Herald: Minister for independence Jamie Hepburn

Last month, the Herald revealed that Mr Hepburn (above) has no budget and only one regular member of staff working for him.

Yet as well as his basic MSP's wage of £67,662 in 2023/24, he is paid an additional £31,854 as a minister.

Mr Yousaf gave the Cumbernauld and Kilsyth MSP the roving brief after promising to create the post of minister for independence during the SNP leadership race.

Pamela Nash, chief executive of Scotland in Union, said: “There is increasing disbelief that the SNP-Green government are happy to spend precious public money in this way.

“People pay their taxes with the expectation it will go towards vital areas like the NHS, education and public services

“Instead, the Scottish Government uses significant amounts to fund nationalist propaganda and the SNP’s self-serving efforts to break up the UK.

“Ministers must end the spend on independence immediately.

“It’s time for the people’s priorities, not the SNP’s.”