A Fife SNP MP has condemned the UK Government’s decision to block publication of the controversial memo leaked by former Scottish secretary Alistair Carmichael in the run-up to the general election.
Glenrothes member Peter Grant told MPs a freedom of information request had been rejected on the grounds its compliance would involve the release of information that “could damage” Britain’s relationship with France.
He said: “The request was about the circumstances in which a then minister of the Crown authorised the deliberate leaking of a confidential but probably inaccurate record of a private conversation between another minister of the Crown and a senior representative of the French government.
“Could we have an urgent statement from the Secretary of State for Scotland (David Mundell) to reassure the House the Government’s attitude to secrecy and open government is based on what is in the interests of the public?”
Mr Grayling insisted the Government had no particular reason to have a “vested interest” in the matter.
But he added: “It is important governments can operate in a way that is in the interests of the country.”
He pointed Mr Grant to the role of the information commissioner and tribunal that enables decisions to be challenged.
Liberal Democrat Mr Carmichael (Orkney and Shetland), who has come under intense pressure to quit, denies breaking electoral law by allowing a memo to be leaked to damage First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
But he has admitted he made an “error of judgement on a political matter” and says he would have resigned from government had he still been a minister.
A petition was lodged at the Court of Session in Edinburgh earlier this month that seeks to oust him over the leaking of a document alleging Ms Sturgeon wanted David Cameron to remain as prime minister.
Mr Carmichael is also facing a formal conduct investigation by Parliamentary Standards Commissioner Kathryn Hudson.