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Sturgeon held unminuted meeting with adviser in the US

It is the 39th unminuted ministerial engagement STV News has identified.

Nicola Sturgeon: The First Minister met Joseph Stiglitz at her New York hotel.
Nicola Sturgeon: The First Minister met Joseph Stiglitz at her New York hotel. PA

The First Minister held an unminuted meeting with an external economic adviser that was not made public during her visit to the US earlier this year, STV News has learned.

Professor Joseph Stiglitz met Nicola Sturgeon for the first time in April at the Lexington Hotel in New York while she was on an official visit to the country.

It is the 39th occasion in the past three years STV News has identified a Scottish Government ministerial meeting or phone call has not been minuted.

Labour MSP Neil Findlay accused the devolved administration of "systematically withholding information in breach of the principles of the ministerial code".

Prof Stiglitz has been a member of the First Minister's council of economic advisers since 2012.

He also helped shape the administration's economic prospectus for an independent Scotland in advance of the 2014 referendum.

According to a 12-page briefing document prepared in an advance of the meeting and obtained by STV News through a freedom of information request, "likely themes" to be discussed between the pair included the administration's aim to build "inclusive [economic] growth" and a second independence referendum.

Also present at the discussion, which lasted around 45 minutes, was the First minister's chief of staff Liz Lloyd.

Aide: Liz Lloyd, left, accompanied Nicola Sturgeon to the US earlier this year.
Aide: Liz Lloyd, left, accompanied Nicola Sturgeon to the US earlier this year. PA

Documents released to STV News

  1. Freedom of information response letter: click here.
  2. A briefing prepared for the First Minister for her meeting with Prof Joseph Stiglitz: click here.
  3.  Emails organising the meeting: click here.

The Scottish Government described the meeting as "an informal, private meeting" which meant "no notes or minutes were taken".

Instead of an official written record "an oral update was provided by the First Minister's chief of staff to the chief economist".

Guidance given to civil servants states "a record should be kept of official meetings that deal with substantive government business" and it is "the responsibility of accompanying officials to take an appropriate record of an event with a minister".

A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: "Officials do not routinely provide, and are not required to provide, minutes of all ministerial or official meetings.

"Minutes are typically only produced where the meeting is formal in nature, such as a task-force, or where actions are expected to be generated.

"This is entirely in line with normal practice across the UK Civil Service."

During her visit to the US the Scottish Government posted a daily update of who the First Minister met and the organisations she visited.

The meeting with the professor was not among them despite Sturgeon mentioning him and her goal to attain inclusive growth in a speech at Stanford University the day before.

Findlay said: "Here we see the First Minister discussing key areas of policy, vital to our future economic well-being and yet no minutes were taken of the discussion.

"This the 39th ministerial meeting that has gone unrecorded. It is completely unacceptable and I will be writing to the permanent secretary urging her to investigate these important matters."

https://stv.tv/news/politics/1390912-sturgeon-us-car-hire-cost-taxpayers-more-than-6000/ | default

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