By Thomas Connolly

The row over the highly-charged role of the Treasury's specially created referendum unit - first revealed by Newsnet Scotland - has deepened following the revelation that the chairman of a House of Commons Select Committee may probe comments attributed to a leading team member.

Mario Pisani was quoted by the leading trade journal Civil Service World as welcoming his team's involvement in a political campaign, namely the independence referendum.

The deputy director of the Treasury, and a former speech writer to ex-Chancellor and Better Together campaign figurehead Alistair Darling MP, Pisani made several controversial remarks at a ceremony where he and the rest of the department's  "Scotland Analysis Programme Team" received the Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Civil Service Award in the annual Civil Service Awards.

By a Newsnet Scotland Reporter

Crunch European Union fishing talks ended in Brussels last night with a couple of key wins for the Scottish lobby which had pressed for measures to take some pressure off the industry.

Scottish Fishing Secretary Richard Lochhead MSP said the outcome would bring relief as the industry prepares to cope with the implications of ongoing measures to cut "discards", the controversial practice of returning the "wrong" catch dead into the sea.

Exclusive by Thomas Connolly

 

The civil service team behind the UK government's anti-Yes campaign in the Scottish referendum have been patted on the back for a splendid job by their peers.

 

The Treasury's "Scotland Analysis Programme Team" - little known during the referendum campaign - has been given the Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Civil Service Award in the annual Civil Service Awards.

 

According to a glowing review in the magazine, Civil Service World, the senior team "was tasked with producing analysis in the lead-up to the Scottish referendum of how both, Scotland and the rest of the UK, benefit from being part of one country".

By Derek Bateman

Be lucky is the most common piece of advice in politics. (Richard Nixon preferred: Never pass up a chance to go to the men’s room). And being lucky in your opponent is the best advice of all. Think of Tony Blair’s adversaries…John Major, William Hague, Michael Howard, Iain Duncan Smith. When the cast changes to Brown versus Cameron, the game changes too.

So with Salmond confronting McConnell, Gray and Lamont. How lucky is that? Well, from today Nicola’ Sturgeon’s luck turned. In Jim Murphy she has a full-size problem with the capacity to disconcert and derail, if not handled carefully.

By a Newsnet Scotland Reporter

A former top diplomat has told the inside story of how he was hounded out of the British Foreign Office after raising concerns of torture linked to the US led and UK supported "war on terror".

Craig Murray, the UK's former ambassador to Uzbekistan, reported to London that Uzbeki secret police were torturing Al Quaeda suspects in 2002 and 2003 at the chest of the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), with the knowledge of its British equivalent, MI6.

In an exclusive interview with Bateman Broadcasting's Derek Bateman, Mr Murray believes that his complaint was communicated directly to the then Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, but ignored.

Analysis by Thomas Connolly

Whatever your opinion of Alex Salmond - and there are few people with no opinion - his every move continues to fascinate supporters and critics alike.

The former First Minister confirmed the worst-kept secret in Scottish politics earlier today when he told supporters at a SNP rally in Ellon that he intends to stand as the SNP candidate for the Westminster seat of Gordon in the UK General Election next May.

By Newsnet Scotland Reporter

The new Scottish Labour leader faces two "damage limitation" elections at UK and Scottish levels until a hoped-for recovery in fortunes at the end of the decade, according to former leading party figure Steven Purcell.

Purcell, Glasgow City Council leader until his abrupt exit from politics in 2010, believes that the "anointed" leader - Jim Murphy MP - will see his party lose Westminster seats in next year's UK General Election, followed by a third SNP victory in Holyrood in 2016.

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