SEVERAL Scottish ministerial engagements - including talks with the government of Qatar - have been omitted from the official record due to a “clerical error”, the international development minister has said.
Humza Yousaf confirmed his trip to Qatar in 2013 and an earlier visit by former first minister Alex Salmond in 2011 were not recorded in the list of ministerial engagements.
The Scottish Government usually publishes details of engagements carried out by all ministers on a monthly basis.
Mr Yousaf insisted the omission was “not the work of the Illuminati or the Knights Templar”, shadowy organisations popularised in Dan Brown conspiracy novels, pointing out that his own trip was announced by the Government at the time and circulated on Twitter.
Speaking in Holyrood, Labour MSP Neil Findlay said: “According to press reports, the minister for external affairs went on a trip to Qatar from May 19 2013.
“The First Minister visited sometime between October 27 and November 4 2011.
“Can the minister advise why there is no detail of these ministerial visits, or what they did on those visits, in the ministerial diaries and will the government now release all information about these visits?
“Two weeks ago, when asked, the minister said it was an administrative error, why there was no details in the diaries.
“It would appear that the administrative error persists.”
Mr Yousaf said: “Scottish ministers have met with Qatari officials on a number of occasions since 2010 when Qatar was awarded the 2022 World Cup.
“Most recently I met with Mr Khaled Rashid Al-Mansouri, head of European affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and discussed a number of issues including the rights of migrant workers.”
He added: “The Scottish Government aims to be as transparent as possible on the meetings that are undertaken by ministers.
“The reason given at the time of that press report absolutely stands - that there was a clerical error not just on that visit but on a number of visits, and I accept that point.
“Now it takes time, of course, for that clerical error to be rectified, so we will hopefully publish that updated list soon.
“But I would say to the member, on this occasion and including the trip to Qatar he refers to in 2013, it was not some kind of secret.
“In fact, his own researcher Tweeted the link to the announcement that we made at that time.
“So, this is not the work of the Illuminati or the Knights Templar, there is no conspiracy theory. We are happy to continue to give details.”