Sturgeon claims dirty tricks
Nicola Sturgeon attacks 'dirty tricks' over preference to Tories over Labour Reuters

The SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has attacked claims in a newspaper report that she would prefer the Tories to be in power instead of Labour, describing them as "dirty tricks" and has called for an inquiry into the leak.

The Scottish First Minister was reported to have said that "she'd rather see David Cameron remain as PM" and she "didn't see Ed Miliband as PM material".

The Daily Telegraph's report claims that Sturgeon made the statement during a private meeting with Sylvie Bermann, France's ambassador to the UK.

The newspaper published a transcript of what it claims is an official British government memorandum on its website, detailing the content of their conversation.

Sturgeon said that she would ask civil service head Sir Jeremy Heywood to look into the leak.

In an interview on the BBC News Sturgeon forcefully denied the report, saying: "The real issue is how a second-hand and inaccurate account of this meeting – which was not even attended by the UK government – came to be written by a UK government civil servant and then leaked to Tory-supporting newspapers at the start of a general election campaign.

"It suggests a Whitehall system out of control – a place where political dirty tricks are manufactured and leaked. And the Foreign Office now appears to be denying the very existence of such a document."

Memo from Daily Telegraph

Discussion with the French Consul-General

The Ambassador also had a truncated meeting with the FM (FM running late after a busy Thursday…). Discussion appears to have focused mainly on the political situation, with the FM stating that she wouldn't want a formal coalition with Labour; that the SNP would almost certainly have a large number of seats; that she had no idea 'what kind of mischief'

Alex Salmond would get up to; and confessed that she'd rather see David Cameron remain as PM (and didn't see Ed Miliband as PM material). I have to admit that I'm not sure that the FM's tongue would be quite so loose on that kind of thing in a meeting like that, so it might well be a case of something being lost in translation.

During Scotland's independence referendum, senior civil servants in Edinburgh and London were accused of bias, with the former supporting the "Yes" vote and the latter supporting the "No" camp.

Sturgeon had earlier "categorically" denied the claims made by the Daily Telegraph on Twitter.

She also retweeted what appeared to be a statement from the French Embassy press office and the British Foreign office.

Sturgeon's popularity is flourishing after her convincing performance during this week's televised leaders' debate.

The leader of the SNP has hinted at offering informal support to Ed Miliband, should he become prime minister, in return for abandoning already implemented Tory austerity policies.

But she has ruled out a deal of any sort with the Conservatives.

The alleged comments were earlier picked up by Labour leader Ed Miliband who described them as "damning".

Miliband told Sky News on Saturday: "I think these are damning revelations. What it shows is that while in public the SNP are saying they don't want to see a Conservative government; in private they are actually saying they do want a Conservative government. It shows that the answer at this general election is if you want the Conservatives out, the only answer is to vote Labour for a Labour government."

The SNP is on course to take up to 50 seats from Labour in Scotland, according to some polls.