The SNP Common Weal Group (CWG) has called on the SNP leadership to distance themselves from Charlotte Street Partners (CSP).

In a move which has been condemned by both the Association for Scottish Public Affairs (ASPA) and the Public Relations and Communications Association, CSP has appointed Lord Ian Duncan, sitting Tory peer and Deputy Speaker of the House of Lords, as a consulting partner.

CWG Convener Craig Berry said: "COVID has exposed the extent of structural inequality in Scotland. It's important now more than ever that the SNP fundamentally grasp the scale of the challenges Scotland faces to deliver a more resilient economy.

"To achieve genuine change, the SNP leadership cannot rely on the conventional thinking which has caused these structural issues within our economy. That Andrew Wilson, author of the controversial Growth Commission report that has partly informed the SNP’s economic strategy, would find it acceptable to follow the strategic consultancy of a Tory peer is an alarm bell about this organisation and the interests it is paid to protect.

“The relationship between lobbyists and lawmakers in Scotland is rightfully subject to significant scrutiny. It is an affront to democracy that a sitting legislator has been employed as a lobbyist. And it is completely inappropriate that a firm with a Tory peer as its strategic consultant will be lobbying the Scottish Government on behalf of its clients about our post-independence economic policy.

"The CWG therefore calls on Nicola Sturgeon to follow the lead of industry body ASPA and cut ties with CSP. We must begin to develop what a post-COVID economy looks like. A resilient Scottish economy for the future must be one that puts securing the wellbeing of our citizens and tackling the climate crisis first - not the corporate interests of the past.”