THE possibility of key details of the Scottish Budget having been leaked to the BBC from opposition parties and not the government has “to be considered”, John Swinney has said.

However, Labour called the allegations a "smear", and insisted they did not have knowledge of the details which had been leaked to the media.

The Deputy First Minister was speaking in Holyrood ahead of his Budget statement, which was delayed by more than 30 minutes after crucial elements were leaked ahead of time to BBC Scotland.

Standing in for Kate Forbes while she is on maternity leave, acting finance minister Swinney apologised “unreservedly” to the Presiding Officer, Alison Johnstone, for the leaks.

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However, he insisted the BBC had not obtained the information about upcoming tax rises from him.

“At no stage has anybody been authorised to disclose any information that is contained within the budget statement on my behalf at any time,” Swinney told MSPs.

“There is inevitably a large number of people have to be involved in the preparation of a government statement, from the many officials that are involved across a whole range of different organisations, but I give you my categorical assurance as a member of this parliament since its foundation in 1999 that no individual was authorised on my behalf to disclose any information.”

Among murmurs from the Tory benches, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon could be heard to say: “Some people want to destroy the reputation of this parliament.”

The National:

Murdo Fraser (above), the Conservatives' Covid recovery spokesperson, had called for a probe into the source of the leaks ahead of the statement.

Raising a point of order before Swinney’s speech, the Tory MSP said: “In the course of the last few moments yet more information has been released by the BBC in relation to the contents of the Budget statement.”

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He went on: “The BBC are advising us that the additional dwelling supplement of LBTT is to be increased from 4% to 6%. They are also advising that it could be £500 million extra for local government.

“It is clear there has been a comprehensive briefing from the government to the BBC of the contents of this Budget. This is now beyond a joke.”

BBC Scotland’s political editor Glenn Campbell had tweeted the information about the additional funding for local government during the delay imposed as a result of the leaks.

The details about the LBTT rate rising however seems to have come from a Scottish Government mistake.

Documents which had presumably been scheduled for publication after Swinney’s statement instead went live while the parliament was briefly suspended, revealing the plans to increase LBTT. This mistake was reported by the BBC.

Responding to Fraser’s allegations, Swinney said the possibility that such details had been leaked by opposition parties and not the government needed to be considered.

The SNP minister told the Presiding Officer: “I’d finally point out, before I come on to the statement, that in the detail that Mr Fraser has just put on the public domain, some of that information is contained within the embargoed statements that I make available in advance to other political parties.”

As jeers from the Tory benches rose, Swinney finished: “I simply point out that these factors need to be considered within this whole process.”

Daniel Johnson (below), Scottish Labour’s finance spokesperson, also addressed the issue when he came to speak in the Budget debate.

The National:

The MSP told Parliament that the key details of the Budget “laid bare by Murdo Fraser were news to me, particularly and most prominently the rate of LBTT”. 

“Can I confirm they not in my copy of the statement,” he said. 

Johnson further said it was an “impossibility” that the leaks had come from him, and that he considered Swinney’s comments to be a “smear”. 

“I would ask him to withdraw them,” Johnson added.

Fraser asked the Presiding Officer to consider what "further action" could be taken, something Johnstone said she would do "at a later date".