OFFICIALS have denied accusations of a "cover-up" in after the First Minister was urged to refer himself to a ministerial code adviser in response to his correction on renewable energy.

During First Minister’s Questions (FMQs) in June,  Humza Yousaf said Scotland had the majority of the UK’s renewable energy resources, instead of the 26% quoted by officials retrospectively.

He corrected the record two months later, stating he “intended” to refer to per capita figures instead, following a point of order from Conservative MSP Liam Kerr.

Scottish LibDem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton has now urged Yousaf to refer himself to the independent adviser on the ministerial code, accusing him of “manufacturing” the facts.

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It comes after heavily redacted correspondence, released through freedom of information requests, showed Scottish Government officials did not calculate the “per capita” figure until July 3.

The documents, obtained by pro-Union group These Islands, show an official asked for someone to “dig out” the figures, with a subsequent response stating the 26% figure for the UK’s renewable capacity in 2022.

On July 3, civil servants then shared figures which stated Scotland had 651.1GWh per 100,000, higher than any other UK nation, with Northern Ireland recording 239.7, Wales 256.8 and England 153.2GWh.

On August 29, Yousaf wrote to Kerr, who raised the issue as a point of order in June, to correct the record.

The letter was also sent to the Presiding Officer, Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar and business managers.

The National:

Cole-Hamilton, in his letter to the First Minister, said “it appears that a fact may have subsequently been manufactured after June 22 in order to minimise the impact of your need to correct the parliamentary record”, adding it would have therefore been “impossible” for Yousaf to intend to say “per capita”.

Urging Yousaf to refer himself for a possible breach of the ministerial code, he expressed concern that the First Minister misled Parliament after the correction was “only reverse engineered afterwards" to “save embarrassment”.

He added: “I am concerned that in the course of correcting the record in relation to the exchange in June, that you may have knowingly misled Parliament in your letter of August 29.

“I therefore urge you to refer yourself to the independent adviser on the Scottish ministerial code in relation to your handling of the correction of the record in parliamentary proceedings.”

Cole-Hamilton also reminded the First Minister that ministers found to have knowingly misled Parliament are expected to resign from office.

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A spokesman for the First Minister told journalists on Thursday that the cover-up claims are untrue.

He said: “The fact that we corrected the record speaks for itself and the fact that we disclosed under FOI the discussions that took place in terms of civil servants surely also speaks for transparency.

“I saw a quote from somebody, it was the accusation of a cover-up, well we published the discussion and the only reason, as often is the case when we get stories put to us, the only reason people know about these things is because something was disclosed on the FOI.

“I’m saying we can’t be accused of covering things up and also disclosing things.”

Yousaf was also quizzed on the issue by Kerr at Thursday’s FMQs, but said “it’s incredible that I have a member who is telling me what I was meaning to say, and meaning to think”.

Kerr said: “Faced with the evidence at FMQs today, he resorted to a quite disgraceful display of deflection and insults, rather than admit he has been rumbled twice. This kind of behaviour is unworthy of his office. He should now refer himself to the independent advisory on the ministerial code for misleading Parliament.”