THE Scottish Government has defended its use of civil servants in developing the case for independence after a former cabinet member insisted ministers should be “wary” of them.

Alex Neil, a former health secretary, claimed it was not a “good idea” to allow civil servants who have a “vested interest” in the Union to work on papers presenting what Scotland would do in areas such as the economy and constitution in the event of a Yes vote.

The ex-SNP MSP said the prospectus – called Building a New Scotland – should have been prepared by the independence movement.

He said: “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.”

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But the Scottish Government has said it is the job of the civil service to support the Government.

Asked to respond to Neil’s comments, a Government spokesperson said: “It is the role of the civil service to support the elected government of the day in developing and implementing its policies.”

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.

The Scottish Government’s defence of using the civil service reflects comments made by John-Paul Marks, Scotland’s most senior civil servant, after the UK Government criticised Humza Yousaf’s decision to appoint a minister for independence.

“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.

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.