THE Minister for Independence has issued a response after the Cabinet Office refused to “confirm or deny” if it holds any information on Scottish independence.

Jamie Hepburn, who was appointed to the ministerial role after Humza Yousaf became First Minister, has previously said UK Government ministers unhappy with his position should “get over it”.

Previously, Scottish Secretary Alister Jack attempted to block civil servants from working under Hepburn.

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And, Cabinet Secretary Simon Case (below) told a Lords Committee that UK officials were investigating the Scottish Government’s independence spending as it the constitution is a reserved issue.

Alongside Hepburn’s position, the Scottish Government is compiling the Building a New Scotland series of white papers on independence.

We exclusively told how the Cabinet Office refused to reveal what, if any, correspondence relating to independence spending it holds, despite noting that there is evidently public interest in it doing so.

The National: Simon Case

After an internal review following an initial refusal to disclose the information, a Freedom of Information request stated: “I maintain that the Cabinet Office neither confirms nor denies that it holds information you have requested.”

The letter added that the reply should be taken as “an indication that the information you requested is or is not held by the Cabinet Office”.

An SNP source told The National that the response showed the Cabinet Office “running scared” of publishing the documents.

And now, the Minister for Independence has insisted to The National that the Scottish Government has a mandate to undertake the work ongoing.

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Hepburn said: “The Scottish Government is committed to giving people in Scotland the right to choose their constitutional future and to making the case that independence is essential to build a fairer and wealthier country - in line with the 2021 Scottish parliament election, which returned a clear majority and a democratic mandate in favour of a referendum.”

The Cabinet Office refused to confirm or deny what information it had as “this would reveal whether the Cabinet Secretary had or had not received correspondence on this particular topic.”

Revealing what information or correspondence is held by Case, who is currently on medical leave, would allow a “picture to be build” on what issues were being considered, the response added, stating that an “inference could be drawn” about which matters were being prioritised.

The National:

“As such, further assumptions or inferences may be made about such matters,” it continued.

“I do not consider that such assumptions or inferences would be helpful and it follows that a confirmation or denial in this instance would not be in the public interest.”

Hepburn previously told The National’s Holyrood Weekly podcast that as the Scottish Parliament has a pro-independence majority, his role is entirely legitimate.

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We previously told how the Cabinet Office refused to say if it kept any briefings on Nicola Sturgeon during her tenure as Scottish first minister.

They claimed it would “prejudice” the relationship between the Scottish and UK Governments.

And, it also refused to disclose if any meetings of the Union Unit replacement had been held in October 2021. It also refused to give any details on what the Cabinet Union Strategy Committee (CUSC) discussed, or which ministers attended any meetings.