THE UK Government will go to court in an ongoing transparency battle sparked by its refusal to publish polling on support for the Union.

The Cabinet Office will take its case to the Upper Tribunal in London on Tuesday, opening the latest front in SNP MP Tommy Sheppard's long-running battle to have the data published.

The Edinburgh MP has said his campaign is no longer solely about the detail of the polling – which was carried out in 2019 – but about challenging the “nightmare precedent” which would be created if it was allowed to keep the research secret.

The Cabinet Office has refused to publish the research claiming it is protected under a law which allows the Government to refuse to publish information if it is related to the “formulation or development” of policy.

Sheppard argued the polling was not protected under the law because the UK Government was not planning to alter its position on independence.

The case will be heard at the Upper Tribunal in London and comes after the UK Government challenged a previous ruling from the First-Tier Tribunal which ruled in 2021 that ministers must release the data.

'A licence for secrecy'

Sheppard said: “What the Cabinet Office are arguing should ring alarm bells with anyone who values the right to freedom of information.

“Their case is based on the misconception that they have a sweeping exemption under Section 35 of the Freedom of Information Act – extending the clause way beyond its identified purpose.

“If successful, a ruling in their favour could create a nightmare precedent and give them a licence for secrecy.

“The Tories would cite it every time they attempt to cover up their wrongdoings for years to come.

“Does anyone really believe that the Tories are seeking to change their policy as it relates to independence or the Union between Scotland and the rest of the UK?

“It has been explicit in saying that it has no plans to change course, refusing to respect the results of Scottish democracy.

“That is not policy development and therefore, should not be used as an excuse not to provide taxpayer funded information.

“We should not have to go to court to exercise our right to freedom of information. It’s time to end this expensive game of cat and mouse and for the Cabinet Office to publish these findings without delay.”