Greensill scandal: SNP face ‘looming cronyism crisis’ over links to Sanjeev Gupta, warns Scottish Labour’s Ian Murray
The SNP faces a “looming cronyism crisis” over its connections to the unfolding Greensill scandal in Westminster, according to Labour MP Ian Murray, who claimed Douglas Ross has “no incentive” to hold Scottish ministers to account.
Writing in The Times' Red Box, the Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland accused the SNP leadership of being “embroiled in its own complex web of connections between senior Scottish ministers, Sanjeev Gupta and his financial backer Lex Greensill.”
It comes after rural economy secretary, Fergus Ewing, was accused of breaking strict conduct rules last week.
The accusation centres around a 2017 dinner Mr Ewing attended with both men at the Cail Bruich restaurant in Glasgow.
After the meeting, Mr Gupta benefitted from more than half a billion pounds in taxpayer guarantees from the SNP government - before the collapse of Greensill Capital.
The Scottish Government claims that no other officials were present at the dinner, and that no notes were taken – a strict rule for any meeting on government business.
Mr Murray said there were “questions to answer about when [Nicola] Sturgeon knew about the meeting, why her initial scepticism about the deal with Gupta was overruled, and who else in the Scottish government has met with Greensill and others in private.”
Taking aim at the Scottish Conservatives, the Edinburgh South MP said: “Douglas Ross has no incentive to hold Sturgeon’s feet to the fire when cronyism in his own party is just as bad, if not worse than the SNP.”
“It is far more convenient for the SNP and the Tories to take us back to the old arguments over the constitution, rather than scrutinise how taxpayer’s money is being wasted.
“Scotland deserves a better government and a better opposition,” Mr Murray added.
At the same time, he argued that the UK Labour Party has been challenging ministers “relentlessly” over the scandal, while “dragging Treasury ministers to parliament” and “forcing the chancellor to publish personal text messages”.
Anas Sarwar, he claimed, had a plan to “restore much-needed trust in Scottish politics”.
“His proposals to strengthen the power of committees to summon witnesses would enable them to better scrutinise links between lobbyists and ministers.
“Reform to freedom of information legislation, based on the model in Finland, would include presumption in favour of proactive publication and force transparency on government departments.
“A right to recall MSPs would give investigations real teeth,” Mr Murray added.
“As we emerge from the collective trauma of Covid, we can’t afford to let egos run rampant and cronyism go unchecked.
“Nothing should get in the way of our recovery from this pandemic.”
Reacting to the article, an SNP spokesperson said: "We are used to Ian Murray doing the Tories' bidding for them but this is just desperate nonsense from the Labour party.
“The SNP committed to protecting jobs at Dalzell and Lochaber and we continue to do so, in fact we will be updating local MSPs later this week.
“It seems Labour would have simply let Scotland’s remaining steel industry close.
“The meeting with Fergus Ewing was properly recorded and the claims in relation to the FM have been roundly rubbished.
“We will continue to get on with the day job and leave Mr Murray to his wild claims.”
The Scottish Conservatives have been contacted for comment.