A FURIOUS Alister Jack laid into the Scottish Government over its work abroad and claimed ministers had committed five “offences” by breaking Foreign Office "rules".

The Scottish Secretary told MPs that he “supports 100%” a letter from Foreign Secretary David Cameron to Scottish External Affairs Secretary Angus Robertson threatening to withdraw UK Government support from international engagement.

The row erupted after First Minister Humza Yousaf met with Turkey’s President Erdogan at COP28, without a Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) official present.

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Cameron has now threatened to withdraw support for several Scottish Government international development offices based in Foreign Office embassies.

Speaking at the Scottish Affairs Committee on Monday, a visibly enraged Jack claimed the meeting with Erdogan was not the first “offence” by Scottish ministers and criticised them for not following "rules".

He said: “I think there's a very simple principle here, all ministers in the United Kingdom, irrespective if they're ministers in a devolved administration or the UK Government, when they're overseas when they meet ministers from foreign countries, they must have - this is the protocol for all of us - they must have an official, a civil servant, from the Foreign Office present to take notes.”

Jack added that the Scottish Government had committed several breaches of this rule, such as a meeting with the Icelandic Prime Minister earlier in the year.

Former foreign secretary James Cleverly is understood to have written to Scottish ministers regarding this on October 16, according to the Scottish Secretary.

He described Cameron’s latest correspondence as a “follow-up letter” because the First Minister chose to “meet someone who the UK Government did not believe should be met” but did not give FCDO officials enough warning to attend.

Jack claimed the Scottish Government conducted meetings with Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, Charles Michel, president of the European Council, the Prime Minister of Lebanon, Najib Mikati, and acting Prime Minister of Pakistan, Anwaar Kakar, without an FCDO official present.

“It's not complicated,” Jack told MPs.

“If there aren’t to be any sanctions, all the Scottish Government have to do is take Foreign Office officials to their meetings.

“That's all we're asking, which is incumbent on me and every other minister in the United Kingdom, and everyone else seems to be able to do it.”

Committee chair Pete Wishart, the SNP’s longest-serving MP, said he wasn’t informed of the other meetings, beside Erdogan.

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Jack said that was because he had “kept them up my sleeve for you today Mr Chairman”.

Wishart pointed out that the First Minister said that Erdogan’s team was responsible for rearranging the meeting time and that the Foreign Office official “chose not to stay” with the Scottish delegation, so missed the meeting.

The Scottish Secretary quoted the late Queen and said “recollections may vary”, adding that he had heard “directly from the Foreign Office” regarding “what they feel happened”.

When Wishart added that surely it was the “nature of international meetings”, a visibly angered Jack interjected, “No”.

“No, that’s not how the rules work, there’s protocol,” he added.

The National: Alister Jack is speaking at the Scottish Affairs Committee

Setting out the policy again, Jack fumed: "Those are the rules!"

The Scottish Secretary declined to provide evidence of the meetings he criticised to the committee, adding that they were visible on the FM's Twitter/X feed. 

Asked if he was serious about the "live threat" to withdraw Scottish Government officials from UK Embassies and High Commissions, Jack said: "It's very clear in the letter". 

We told how Cameron has faced criticism for his intervention where he threatened to withdraw support for Scottish ministers.

The newly appointed peer wrote that “any further breaches” of officials not being present at meetings with international figures would result in “no further FCDO facilitation of meetings or logistical support”.

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“We will also need to consider the presence of Scottish Government offices in UK Government posts”.

Cameron is following in the footsteps of his predecessor James Cleverly, now Home Secretary, who repeatedly threatened to withdraw FCDO assistance from Scottish ministers in a bid to crack down on any talk of Scottish independence.

Yousaf described Cameron's letter as "petty" while the row grew on Monday.