The SNP’s education secretary, Jenny Gilruth, is under fire over allegations that she used her position as transport secretary to delay construction work because it affected her constituency.
The dispute revolves around proposed work to electrify the route between Edinburgh Haymarket and Dalmeny in West Lothian, which would have caused eight days of disruption since Boxing Day last year.
Ms Gilruth, who represents Mid Fife and Glenrothes as MSP, called for the work to be postponed.
Read more: Yousaf is set to investigate allegations Gilruth broke regulations in decision to build railroad
The Tories say officials have told the Scottish Government it would cost an extra £1million and cause disruption to 9,000 passengers a day as the work takes place outside the bank holidays.
The work is still not done.
First Minister Humza Yousaf said she had “completely legitimate reasons” to take action but agreed to open an investigation into a possible violation of the ministerial code by Ms Gilruth.
Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross has accused the former transport secretary of halting repair work affecting her constituency “for purely selfish, political reasons”, adding that the move constitutes a “clear criminal offence”. “ act.
Their interventions are detailed in a series of emails.
One of those messages stated that Ms Gilruth would seek “feedback from Cab Sec on his views”, a nod to Michael Matheson, then Secretary of State for Net Zero, Energy and Transport.
A note dated October 19 last year said: “The Minister would like this to be put on hold pending feedback from Cab Sec on his views.”
The email raises concerns that the work “will have a major impact on communities in Fife over Christmas”.
It said the proposed works “will not be well received, particularly given the impact of the current schedule on Fife”.
It continued: “The Secretary does not believe it is the right approach to rush this out and is asking for a 24 hour break to allow Ms Gilruth Cab Sec and….” [REDACTED] views.”
Read more: The FMQs Sketch: Careers at stake
As a result, Shadow Transport Secretary Graham Simpson is asking Mr Matheson, the current Health Secretary, to release details of all WhatsApp messages, emails, phone calls and meetings he has had with Ms Gilruth on the subject.
He says it is important for Mr Matheson to explain what role he played in a Ministerial Order that resulted in essential repair work being delayed at an estimated cost to taxpayers of £1million.
The work planned for last Christmas has still not been carried out.
Mr Simpson said: “It is clear from the email chain that Jenny Gilruth has sought Michael Matheson’s views on her intervention to block repair work affecting her constituents.”
“If, because of the conflict between her role as Transport Secretary and that of a constituency MP, she failed to see that her actions were likely to result in a violation of Ministerial Code, then the Cabinet Secretary, as her boss, should have done so.
“As a result, Michael Matheson must answer questions as to why he did not overrule Jenny Gilruth and give the green light to allow work to proceed as originally planned.”
He added: “So I wrote to him today asking him to release all correspondence he has had with Jenny Gilruth on this matter.
“The public deserves transparency from SNP ministers about this controversy – and not a repetition of the secrecy that characterized the ferry scandal – so that it can understand why and how this poor and costly decision was made.”
Ms Gilruth refused to say whether she had broken the ministerial code, telling journalists she made decisions “in the best interest of the traveling public”.
The Scottish Government has been contacted for comment.