A FLIGHT from Inverness to Moscow in defiance of Russian sanctions was given the green-light by the Tories, it has been claimed.

The flight, which left Scotland on February 26 this year, just two days after President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine, is at the centre of a scandal and the SNP have said the Department for Transport gave the flight the go ahead.

The department previously blamed Inverness airport for allegedly disobeying a Notice of Air Missions regulation banning flights between the UK and Russia as part of a package of sanctions against the rogue state.

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But a memo obtained by the Press and Journal appears to show the UK Government approved the flight, not the Highland aviation authorities.

It is understood to be one of a number of flights which defied a ban on travelling to Russia.

A transcript of national air traffic controls obtained by the Press and Journal reportedly shows they told Inverness Airport crews there was “no reason to intervene” and block the flight.

A Notice of Air Missions regulation was issued the day before the mystery flight which carried three people and cargo, according to the letter sent to Grant Shapps on Tuesday.

The SNP have demanded to know why the plane was allowed to fly to the Russian capital and have also called for an apology from Shapps after he blamed Inverness crews for “failing to comply” with the order in a Twitter spat with Ian Blackford.

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Gavin Newlands, the SNP transport spokesman said: “The public deserve clear and transparent answers immediately - otherwise suspicion will understandably grow over why the UK Tory government has allowed private flights with Russian citizens, wealth and assets to flee to Moscow at a time when only humanitarian flights should have been permitted.”

Drew Hendry, the MP for Inverness, Badenoch and Strathspey said the questions around the flight were significant “following a raft of reports showing how much Russian money is swilling about Tory coffers”.

He added: “The UK Transport Secretary must first apologise for scapegoating Inverness Airport and set the record straight that it was his department that authorised the flight. He must then answer the pressing questions over why this flight was allowed to take off and who and what was on it.”

A DfT spokesperson said: “The UK has imposed a ban on all aircraft owned, chartered or operated by a person connected with Russia, or which is registered in Russia, flying in UK airspace.

“A NOTAM (Notice to Aviation) was issued on 25th February by the CAA on behalf of the UK Government informing all aviation stakeholders and a SIREN was also issued by the CAA on the 26th. It is the responsibility of aviation stakeholders, including airports, to ensure they are monitoring and complying with NOTAMs.”