Dinners with Scottish Government minister 'very different' to Greensill scandal, says Nicola Sturgeon

Dinners involving a Scottish Government cabinet secretary and the steel billionaire Sanjeev Gupta are "very different" from the Greensill lobbying scandal, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

The First Minister was pressed on meetings between rural affairs secretary Fergus Ewing and Mr Gupta – an associate of Greensill Capital's Lex Greensill.

Mr Ewing reportedly met Mr Gupta over a meal in June 2017, with the Sunday Mail newspaper stating Jay Hambro, chief investment officer of Mr Gupta's GFG Alliance, was also present.

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Former business minister Fergus Ewing and Sanjeev Gupta, executive chair of Liberty House, during a meeting
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It comes as a series of inquiries have been commissioned, including by Downing Street, as Westminster looks to understand the role former prime minister David Cameron played in securing Whitehall access for Greensill.

The Scotsman has also revealed in an exclusive report that Mr Ewing and six other ministers later met with GFG executives across nine occasions, and the Scottish Government has spent around £200,000 on financial advice from Deloitte over its agreement with Gupta’s Highland company.

Labour's Monica Lennon has insisted "full transparency is needed from all government ministers over relationships and contact with Greensill Capital".

She said that at meetings between Mr Ewing, Mr Gupta and others to discuss Government business, "no records were kept".

But Ms Sturgeon insisted dealing were "recorded in the usual way in the register of meetings".

Speaking on Sky News' Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme, Ms Sturgeon said: "I understand the temptation to draw an analogy between the scandal we see developing around David Cameron, around the UK Government, and the Scottish Government dealing with GFG.

"The two things are very different. We worked directly with GFG firstly to save the Dalziel steelworks, in 2015 there was virtually nobody employed there today it employs more than one 100 people, and secondly with that company to save the Lochaber aluminium smelter, more than 100 jobs have been protected there with more created as a result.

"It's not the lobbying scandal we see elsewhere. All the proper due diligence has been done. They way in which Greensill tried to use the NHS, which David Cameron allegedly lobbied for, that has not happened in Scotland and we've not had some of the stuff around Covid loans. The two things are not the same."



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