THE Spanish government has defended its former foreign minister over allegations of dirty tricks involving a claim that he gave “unconstitutional orders” to its sacked consul to Edinburgh.

Miguel Angel Vecino, formerly the consul to Scotland, Northern Ireland and the north of England, was dismissed from his Scottish posting last year after he said Spain would not veto an independent Scotland joining the EU.

He later said that Josep Borrell – then Spain’s foreign minister but now the EU’s top diplomat – had given him orders that went against the Spanish constitution.

In papers supporting his claim against the government for unfair dismissal from his Edinburgh post, Vecino said Borrell had halted a visit to the Scottish Parliament by an all-party delegation from the Catalan Parliament last year, to avoid a Catalan presence in Scotland ahead of the Spanish General Election.

He said this was motivated by the desire to prevent “any electoral damage to the Pedro Sanchez government”.

“It’s at least playing dirty,” Vecino said at the time.

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He added that the minister had gone on to block a visit by the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce to Barcelona, and another by a delegation of Catalan businesspeople to Scotland, “with the aim of Catalan entrepreneurs not being in touch with the Scots”.

The pro-Basque independence party EH Bildu, also became involved with its MP Jon Inarritu asking a series of parliamentary questions over the “unconstitutional orders” claims and, whether or not Spain’s foreign ministry intended investigating the issue.

However, the Spanish government has now backed Borrell, denying that “instructions, let alone orders, which are contrary to the constitution”, had been issued.

It also highlighted that among the consuls’ duties was “the promotion of Spanish economic interests where there is no commercial office”, and claimed that those “received by the Consul General of Spain in Edinburgh were of this type”.

Inarritu posted the Spanish government’s response on Twitter, and said that if they were of an “economic” nature, the question had to be asked what they actually were.

This was mainly because, as the ex-consul had noted, Borrell was also responsible for blocking the Edinburgh Chamber visit to Barcelona, and that by a delegation of Catalan businesspeople to Scotland, “so that Catalan entrepreneurs had no contact with their Scottish counterparts”.

He said such instructions would be within the economic sphere, but hardly in line with the spirit or letter of the Spanish constitution.