Inner circle accused

FM’s advisers breached civil service code say Tories

Nicola Sturgeon-parliament-10-Sept

Nicola Sturgeon: called to explain

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has been urged to deal with her inner circle of special advisers amid claims that there have been several breaches of the civil service code of conduct.

Ms Sturgeon’s chief of staff Liz Lloyd has already deleted one tweet which made a political attack on the Prime Minister.

The Scottish Conservatives say they have been alerted to more than 100 other alleged breaches by Lloyd and have urged Sturgeon to act.

However, new research revealed by the Tories claims that seven more of Ms Sturgeon’s special advisers have also used social media to make pro-SNP political points.

Each of the Spads are taxpayer-funded and therefore must adhere to Scottish Government Code of Conduct for Special Advisers.

It says they “must not take public part in political controversy, through any form of statement whether in speeches or letters to the press, or in books, social media, articles or leaflets.

“They must observe discretion and express comment with moderation, avoiding personal attacks, and would not normally speak in public for a Minister, or the Scottish Government”.

One of the seven is Kate Higgins who posted a tweet with the line “all our efforts to rid Scotland of the Tories”.

The Conservatives also say that Ross Ingebrigtsen, Ms Sturgeon’s deputy political spokesman, has posted tweets attacking the UK government.

Colin McAllister, who also advised deputy first minister John Swinney, used Twitter to accuse the Conservatives of being “far right” and in another urged his followers to “watch her face” about Ruth Davidson in parliament.

Scottish Conservative chief whip Miles Briggs said: “This dossier of evidence is incredible. When the First Minister’s chief of staff was exposed for flagrantly breaking civil service rules it was shocking.

“But it is clearly not a case of a single rogue special adviser who thinks they can flout the rules.

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“We now see seven others in Sturgeon’s inner circle who are all on the civil service public payroll yet pump out blatant SNP propaganda.

“I had already raised concerns about Liz Lloyd with the Permanent Secretary Leslie Evans, who has responded by telling me it is a matter for the First Minister.

“I have not yet had a reply from Sturgeon and will now write to her again. Does she not know what her inner circle are doing? Does she have no control over them?

“This culture of contempt at the heart of the SNP government is an affront to the vital rules of civil service neutrality. Our civil service can’t become an extension of the nationalist’s propaganda unit.”

Regarding previous concerns raised by the Tories over Ms Lloyd’s tweets, the Scottish government said: “Paragraph 12 of the code of conduct makes very clear that special advisers ‘are able to represent Ministers’ views with a degree of political commitment that would not be possible for other civil servants’.”

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