NICOLA Sturgeon has remained tight-lipped on the abrupt departure of the Scottish National Investment Bank’s chief executive – saying it would be “completely wrong” to breach her confidentiality.

Eilidh Mactaggart left on Friday after 18 months in the role, with no reason given, prompting questions from opposition MSPs.

On Tuesday, Finance Secretary Kate Forbes refused to give further details on the exit, stating it was a matter for the bank’s board.

At First Minister’s Questions on Thursday, Nicola Sturgeon also declined to provide an explanation after being quizzed by Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross.

He accused the SNP of “secrecy” and “shutting down scrutiny”, and suggested it could be a breach of the Ministerial Code unless there is a "clear and lawful" reason for withholding the information. 

Sturgeon said: "On the Scottish National Investment Bank, I cannot go through the details of anyone's employment situation here in the chamber.

“This issue is not a matter for Scottish Government ministers, but for the board of the Scottish National Investment Bank.

"What is the responsibility of Ministers to ensure is that the Scottish National Investment Bank is performing well, and the Bank is performing exceptionally well.”

Ross said the timing of the departure was “very suspicious” as it came just days before the SNP launched their National Strategy for Economic Transformation – which the Tory chief dubbed “underwhelming” and “watered down”.

The strategy, at the launch of which the Finance Secretary pledged Scotland would be “radical and bold”, received a mixed response when it was published on Tuesday.

Several business groups, including the Scottish Retail Consortium and the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, welcomed it, while businessman Sir Tom Hunter called for the plan to be more business-led and STUC general secretary Roz Foyer – who was a member of the group which advised the Government on the plan – said it was a “missed opportunity”.

Ross asked: “Is it really a coincidence that the chief executive of the investment bank has resigned instead of trying to deliver this new strategy?”

The First Minister replied: “Yes it is a coincidence. And that is clear.”

She added: “The former chief executive is a private individual … she is entitled to the duty of care and confidentiality that any other individual in her circumstances would be entitled to and it would be completely wrong – and I think most reasonable people would accept it would be completely wrong – of me in the chamber of the Scottish Parliament to breach that confidentiality.”