By Martin Kelly
The UK Government is tonight facing claims of a cover-up over allegations that a quarter of a million pounds of public cash was wasted after a bungle led to hundreds of thousands of anti-independence leaflets being shredded.
It has been announced that parliamentary questions are to be tabled by the SNP in a bid to uncover the truth behind the claims made by an unnamed whistle-blower.
On Sunday, Newsnet Scotland exclusively revealed how an unnamed Civil Servant had described how insiders at the UK Cabinet Office had secretly shredded leaflets which were to be sent to every home in Scotland.
The leaflets, which urged voters to reject independence in September’s referendum, were said to have been pulped after the details of a plumbing company was mistakenly included in the image of a van. The cost of reprinting replacement leaflets was put at £1/4 million.
A reply to a Freedom of Information request lodged by Newsnet Scotland appeared to confirm the allegations. However, despite acknowledging the information existed, the Cabinet Office refused to release any details.
Now, in a bid at getting to the truth, an SNP politician has announced he will table questions at Westminster.
SNP Treasury spokesperson Stewart Hosie MP said the credibility of Treasury Chief Danny Alexander would be “in the spotlight” if the claims turn out to be true. The Lib Dem MP is said to have noticed the printing blunder at the eleventh hour and ordered the leaflets to be destroyed.
Mr Hosie said: “I intend to table questions at Westminster as soon as possible to get some answers about this. People will be rightly shocked if Danny Alexander did waste £250,000 of taxpayers’ money to cover up yet another blunder in the UK Government-led No campaign.
“It follows the revelation that an even larger amount of public money – £300,000 – was used to conduct secret opinion polls on independence for the Westminster government which they still refuse to publish – despite it being public money, and despite the findings reportedly being shared with the No campaign.
“The people of Scotland deserve better. In September we have a choice of two futures and a Yes vote will rid us of this bungling bunch at Westminster once and for all.”
New leaflets were eventually printed and sent to every home in Scotland at a cost of £720,000.
The refusal to release the information under a Freedom of Information request, follows a similar decision by the UK Government after it refused to publish the findings of a secret referendum poll.
The survey, carried out by polling company Ipsos Mori, was rumoured to have shown a surge in support for Yes. However the UK Government refused to publish the findings arguing that the polling was used to formulate government policy.
This month the SNP wrote to the Information Commissioner calling for action to be taken to ensure the UK Government publishes the details of the polling on the referendum which had cost the taxpayer £300,000.