ALEX Neil has said the Scottish Government should be "wary" of civil servants working on the case for independence who he claims have a "vested interest" in the Union. 

The former health secretary made the comments after ex-SNP MSP Campbell Martin said British agents have “captured and controlled” the SNP government and successfully infiltrated the party.

Writing on pro-independence website BarrheadBoy, Martin said that the SNP’s supposed focus on “gender policies” is being pushed by infiltrators to discredit the party and prevent it from breaking up the UK.

Neil – who stepped down from Holyrood two years ago – said he never thought it was a good idea have the civil service help prepare papers on the case for independence and this should instead have been done by the movement itself.

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“I absolutely believe the Scottish Government has every right to use resources to prepare and present its independence case,” he said.

“But as somebody who wants to win the next referendum, I never thought it was a great idea to have the British civil service preparing the prospectus for independence.

“If there are operatives operating then clearly they would be feeding a lot of the information back, at an early stage, to their masters in London.

“I have always thought that the independence prospectus should be prepared by the independence movement and not by people who have a vested interest in the unionist side winning the next referendum.

“The civil service is not even a devolved service. It is entirely controlled, in terms of the legalities of it, by Westminster. Why would you get these people to write the case for independence when their bosses are in London? My view is that we should be wary.”

There have been five papers released in the Building a New Scotland series so far on the economy, citizenship, independence in the modern world, renewing democracy and the constitution – which together illustrate the Scottish Government’s vision for the country in the event of independence.

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Humza Yousaf appointed Jamie Hepburn as minister for independence after winning the SNP leadership contest in March, who has spearheaded the release of the papers ever since.

Allan Sampson, national officer for the FDA civil service union, said Neil’s comments were disrespectful.

“It is legitimate for Alex Neil to call for party affiliates and supporters to develop party policy, but to accuse the Scottish Government’s own civil servants of having a vested interest and acting in contravention of the civil service code is deeply disrespectful and insulting,” he said.

Craig Hoy, chairman of the Scottish Conservatives, accused Neil of making “paranoid” remarks.

“It is astonishing that such a wild conspiracy theory should be coming from a former senior member of the SNP government,” he said.

In May John-Paul Marks, Scotland’s most senior civil servant, defended the role of his colleagues in preparing the Holyrood government’s case for leaving the UK.

“It is for the first minister to appoint his ministerial team, and then it is for the civil service to serve that team with impartiality,” Marks said.

The Scottish Government has been approached for comment.