A SCOTS MP has criticised the Spanish government after it emerged that its foreign minister had urged members of its senate to complain about the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Catalonia to the Speaker of the House of Lords.

Contacts had alerted APPG members – including vice-convener Douglas Chapman – that Josep Borrell was trying to undermine their activities.

He proposed that a group of senators meet with Lord Fowler last month and, in a briefing note, said the peer would be aware of the “Spanish malaise” because of the existence of the APPG, which was an “anomaly” in the UK Parliament.

The National:

Lord Fowler, Speaker of the House of Lords

The note’s existence was revealed yesterday by Jordi Marti, foreign affairs spokesperson for the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC), who complained to Borrell in the senate.

Marti said the note reflected that the view of the Catalan crisis from outside Spain was different from that which it sought to portray.

The Foreign Ministry letter said the APPG was an anomaly in parliament, “because it is the only one dedicated to a European region”, and because it “is not, in fact, about Catalonia, but advocates secession”.

It also suggested the APPG organised an event in support of St Andrews Professor Clara Ponsati, Catalonia’s former education minister.

Chapman said: “According to the APPG constitution the purpose of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Catalonia is to develop links between parliamentarians in this country and in Catalonia. In addition, our aim is to keep members of Parliament abreast of the on-going debates and events about Catalonian self-determination and to help ensure that debate is carried out in the most democratic way.

“It’s somewhat ironic that the Spanish government is hoping to abolish the APPG through the undemocratic, non-elected body of Lords, Baronesses and Church of England Bishops rather than face up to the democratic, UN-recognised, right of self-determination by the Catalan people through thoroughly peaceable and democratic means.

“As far as we are concerned the APPG will continue to function as a recognised representative part of the Westminster Parliament and we believe there is no precedent for another nation state to dictate the conditions in which an APPG at Westminster can operate.”

The National:

The SNP's Ronnie Cowan

Meanwhile, Chapman and his SNP colleague Ronnie Cowan, have signed an Early Day Motion (EDM) calling for Carme Forcadell, president (speaker) of the Catalan parliament, to be released from prison, where she has been held since March accused of rebellion.

They joined Plaid Cymru and Labour members supporting the EDM, which said that rebellion referred to the use of violence, of which there has been no evidence – a fact highlighted when the German judiciary denied a Spanish government extradition request for former Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont.

The EDM said its signatories regretted Spain’s attempts to interfere in the proceedings of the Catalan parliament and supported the right of peoples to hold free and open discussions of ideas without state intrusion.

It also called on the resolution of the institutional and political conflicts through non-criminal channels.