THE Tory Government is investigating Scottish Government spending on a Minister for Independence, the UK’s top civil servant has confirmed.

Cabinet Secretary Simon Case, to whom the top civil servants in Scotland and Wales ultimately answer, said it would be “a bit worrying” if UK taxpayer money were to be spent on efforts for independence.

The confirmation came after severe confusion surrounded whether or not officials in the Scotland Office were probing devolved government spending in reserved areas.

While Labour peer George Foulkes produced an email which seemed to confirm that Advocate General Keith Stewart had ordered his staff to probe spending, sources within the Scotland Office strenuously denied the existence of such an investigation to multiple news outlets.

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After the confusion, Foulkes challenged Case on whether or not such spending was being looked at during a meeting of the Lords Constitution Committee on Tuesday.

Case said that “civil servants in Scotland and Wales can only spend their money on areas that are within their competence”, before confirming that the constitution is a reserved matter.

He was then asked specifically about Jamie Hepburn, the Scottish Government’s Minister for Independence, and the team of 20 civil servants allegedly supporting his work.

Case responded: “We are looking at some of these specifics as we speak, and doing that with ministers at the moment to see whether we need to issue further guidance and clarification to civil servants about what is and is not appropriate spending.

“I don’t want to prejudge the outcome of that.”

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Foulkes (above) went on: “The principle would be that normally they [civil servants] shouldn't be spending money and using their time on reserved areas.

"Just to take a stupid example, if they were doing defence issues, it would be clearly crazy but surely the constitution is an equally important area.

“If civil servants are effectively supporting ministers who want to break up the United Kingdom, and these are United Kingdom civil servants paid for by taxpayers’ money, it would be a bit unusual and a bit worrying, wouldn’t it?”

Case responded: “I agree with you it would be unusual and a bit worrying which is why we are looking at the specifics of cases that you and other members raise regularly in correspondence.”

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The news comes after conflicting reports and briefings earlier in July cast doubt on whether any probe into devolved government spending in reserved areas actually existed.

While Scotland Office sources briefed journalists that no such investigation was ongoing, their official line to the media left the question open.

“It is up to the Scottish Government how it spends its record block grant in devolved areas," a spokesperson said at the time.

While Case has confirmed that this is the truth, he has also made clear that it is Scottish Government spending in reserved areas, such as the constitution, that is being investigated.

John-Paul Marks is the Permanent Secretary to the Scottish Government, the highest-ranking civil servant north of the Border.

Marks, like his Welsh counterpart Andrew Goodall, answers ultimately to Case.

Stephen Flynn, the SNP’s leader at Westminster, attacked Case’s comments, describing them as “anti-democratic” and “a blunder for the UK Government”.

He said: “We will see what emerges, but anything that further buries the notion that the UK is a voluntary union of countries will backfire in Scotland, and have the effect of boosting support for independence further.

“This reflects a partisan political agenda, and Simon Case admitted that he is working with Tory ministers on potentially preventing the Scottish Government from fulfilling its democratic mandate to explain the case for independence to the people of Scotland.

“A majority of MSPs were elected on a pro-independence platform, and it is the policy of the Scottish Government for Scotland to become a nation state within the European Union.

“If Westminster imposes a double standard that the UK Government can work to uphold the Union, but the Scottish Government can’t promote the benefits of independence, the idea that the UK is anything even close to a partnership of equals will have been tested to its destruction.”