A PROMINENT Unionist campaigner and Scottish Tory donor is aiming to launch a legal bid to try to stop the Scottish Government spending money on preparations for independence.

Robert Kilgour – the owner of Renaissance care homes and founder of pro-Union campaign group Scottish Business UK and Conservative “virtual think tank” Think Scotland – claimed the SNP was running Scotland “like a South American banana republic”.

He aims to argue in court that the Scottish Government cannot spend money in areas which have been deemed outwith its competence, including on preparations for independence.

The National: Robert Kilgour, executive chairman, Renaissance Care

Kilgour (above) is leading a group of businesspeople who have obtained initial advice from lawyer David McKie, of Levy and Macrae, which indicates their case is arguable but the details require further examination.

The Unionist entrepreneur told the Scottish Daily Mail that a “leading KC” had been appointed to probe the next steps.

It comes after the Supreme Court ruled that the Scottish Government does not have the powers to hold a second vote on independence without Westminster's consent.

Kilgour said: “Nicola Sturgeon is using public taxpayers’ money and civil servants for party purposes. We’re seeking legal advice on the options in front of us. Enough is enough.

READ MORE: Tories demand £20m indyref2 fund be reallocated after Supreme Court verdict

“I waited to see what her and the SNP response is [to the Supreme Court ruling] and it seems to be ‘full steam ahead’ on spending public money and using civil servants on what is, from the Supreme Court ruling, quite clearly party campaigning activity, not something that is within their remit as an elected government to do.

“It is absolutely scandalous that they are doing this. It is arrogance beyond belief and is a complete insult to Scottish taxpayers.”

Other areas which are reserved to the UK Government under the Scotland Act (1998) include international relations and internet services. A ruling in Kilgour’s favour would likely see Scottish Government spending in these areas also declared unlawful.

The argument that Holyrood spending on independence preparations could be illegal was proposed by Unionist politicians over the weekend, and debunked by a constitutional expert.

The National: Aileen McHarg, Professor of Public Law at the University of Strathclyde.

Aileen McHarg (above), a professor of public law and human rights at Durham University, said: “It only requires a moment's thought to know that it's a ludicrous position to adopt.

“Holyrood legislation is (theoretically) at risk of challenge indefinitely. In Salvesen v Riddell a provision was struck down 10 years after enactment. Should all the money spent on enacting it have retrospectively been declared unlawful?

“How would you separate out the sum involved from the rest of the statute in question? Would any expenditure on unsuccessfully defending the legislation on court also have been caught?”

McHarg added: “All in all, this is a cheap line advanced by people who obviously don't expect that they will actually be in a position where they would have to try to govern under these conditions any time soon. Deeply unserious politicians.”

The Scottish Tories roughly estimated that the Government is set to spend more than £1.5 million a year working on the independence prospectus, after finding that 25 officials are involved in the work. They calculated the figure by adding up the maximum salaries of civil servants in relevant pay bands.

There is also £20m set aside for holding indyref2 in 2023, but deputy first minister John Swinney is set to address how that cash will now be used at next month’s budget.