Opposition Parties Demand Details of Minister Dinner with Mr Gupta
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Opposition Parties Demand Details of Minister Dinner with Mr Gupta

The Courier reported that Scottish National Party’s Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Tourism Mr Fergus Ewing’s unrecorded dinner at a posh Cail

The Courier reported that Scottish National Party’s Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Tourism Mr Fergus Ewing’s unrecorded dinner at a posh Cail Bruich restaurant in Glasgow’s west end in 2017 with steel tycoon Mr Sanjeev Gupta, Australian banker Mr Lex Greensill, former GAM fund manager Mr Tim Haywood and GFG Alliance’s Chief Investment Officer Mr Jay Hambro has sparked calls for an investigation into whether he broke the ministerial code. Scottish Labour insists that the lack of any official record of the meeting and no correspondence about it for a month either side of the dinner’s date requires serious explaining from Mr Ewing. Scottish Labour economy spokeswoman Ms Monica Lennon told The Sunday Mail “What on earth was a Cabinet minister doing having a cosy dinner at a posh West End restaurant without any officials present when government business was clearly on the agenda. Why can no record of any communications concerning the dinner be found. Are we to believe it was arranged telepathically? It is beyond belief that there are no official records of the meeting at all beyond the notes taken by the businessman in attendance. And it’s crucial that this is not brushed under the carpet and that we get a full explanation because the fallout for the people of Scotland is potentially catastrophic. Over GBP 350 million which could have been spent on hospitals, schools and public services could simply disappear. Mr Fergus Ewing has some serious explaining to do over this dinner and there needs to be an investigation into whether the ministerial code of conduct has been adhered to.”

Scottish Liberal Democrats Member of the Scottish Parliament for North East Fife Mr Willie Rennie called for an independent investigation into potential breaches and said “The collapse of Greensill has exposed a shady network of backroom deals across the Scottish and UK Governments. I’m completely unsurprised that there are no records from this meeting by now it are clear that this is the SNP’s standard mode of operation.”

Scottish Greens Member of the Scottish Parliament for Mid Scotland and Fife (Region) Mr Mark Ruskell said “It’s quite shocking that this senior Cabinet minister seems to think he doesn’t have to ensure notes are taken at important meetings.”

A Freedom of Information request by the Sunday Mail has revealed Mr Ewing had no officials with him, no notes were taken, and the Scottish Government claims to have no emails, texts or phone records about the meeting. The code states “A private secretary or official should be present for all discussions relating to government business, with the basic facts of formal meetings to be recorded, including the reasons for the meeting, attendees and the interests represented. If ministers meet external organisations or individuals and find themselves discussing official business without an official present, for example, at a party conference, social occasion or on holiday, any significant content such as substantive issues relating to government decisions or contracts should be passed back to their private offices as soon as possible after the event, who should arrange for the basic facts of such meetings to be recorded.”

According to the Sunday Mail, the Scottish Government response to the FOI said “The themes of discussion were recorded by Mr Gupta’s company, GFG Alliance, and reported a positive relationship focused on derisking both parties while maximising plans for growth at the Lochaber smelter and hydro.”

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