THE Tories have accused Scottish Government ministers of putting pressure on Marks & Spencer bosses to keep Scotland’s whisky Scottish, according to documents released under Freedom of Information.

Last November, the retail giant backed down in a “Union Jackery” row that saw whisky labeled as British.

READ MORE: Victory for National reader as M&S back down over 'Great British' whisky

The store was initially taken to task by The National after reader Stewart Brown contacted us to point out a mistake on the firm’s website.

On the whisky and gin pages in the food section of the website, M&S had listed the countries of origin as US, Ireland, India, England and Great Britain.

Dr Brown complained: “If Scotland only merits a listing under ‘Great Britain’, why does England not similarly fall within this ‘Great Britain’ category? Who on earth refers to whisky from Great Britain, or to British whisky, when in fact the origin is Scotland and the spirit Scotch? Moreover, in terms of listing countries of origin, in any context England has exactly the same status as Scotland.”

Dr Brown was later told in an e-mail by a customer services operative: “At the moment, it looks like our customers are happy with how the Whisky is currently categorised.”

But now, documents released to the Tories under FOI show that after out story was published, sparking outrage, Rural Affairs Secretary Fergus Ewing went straight to the top of M&S.

He was told by civil servants: “Scottish Government officials spoke to M&S to seek clarity on the situation with regard to the status of these products on their website. M&S urgently investigated this and reverted back confirming that this was indeed an error which they immediately rectified and sent out a tweet apologising for their error.”

In an email, M&S told the government official: “After speaking to colleagues in our Food team I can confirm that the website listing issue regarding whisky and gin products from Scotland, as reported in the National newspaper, was an unfortunate mistake and has now been rectified online.

“I hope this note helpfully clarifies the situation and enables you to brief Ministers that M&S is fully committed to sourcing Scottish produce and labelling products as from Scotland both on pack and on our website wherever possible."

Scottish Tory MSP Murdo Fraser said Ewing’s concern over the branding was “petty and, frankly, a waste of public resources”.

“There’s not a person in the world who doesn’t know whisky is Scottish,” Fraser said.

He added: “It shows just how parochial the SNP government is, that it would sooner berate businesses for daring to refer to the UK, than actually help them create jobs and grow the economy.

“Instead of obsessing about Saltires and pandering to the extreme elements of the Yes movement, the SNP government should be getting on with representing the whole country.”