Alex Salmond yesterday faced fresh accusations of misleading MSPs after it emerged that he exaggerated the number of jobs created by green energy.
The SNP leader is facing calls to apologise for a second time in a week after it emerged yesterday that he had exaggerated the jobs that the renewables industry supports in Scotland.
He claimed at First Minister’s Question Time last month that 18,000 people are now employed directly by the renewable energy industry in Scotland – then his office ordered a change to the official record of proceedings when it was pointed out that the true figure was just 11,000.
The latest row comes less than a week after Mr Salmond was forced into a humiliating apology after he used false figures to claim his government had increased college funding.
Opponents are now calling on him to make another full apology in the Scottish parliament, claiming that he appears to be ‘incapable of telling the truth’.
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said: ‘This is an outrageous attempt by Alex Salmond to rewrite history.
‘It beggars belief that he is willing to mislead parliament and fail to acknowledge in public the true facts until forced to do so.’
Mr Salmond had made the claim about 18,000 jobs on October 25, but the official record of what is said in the Scottish parliament was only finally updated yesterday afternoon – after a political row had broken out over the issue.
The First Minister’s office had first emailed parliament officials on November 15 to inform them that the figure was wrong – then failed to respond to a reply that asked them to follow the official procedure for corrections.
Guidelines also say that the MSP who raised the matter should be informed of any changes to the official record and a copy of the correction should be placed in Holyrood’s research centre.
Liz Smith, the Scottish Conservative MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, asked the original question on green jobs at First Minister’s Questions.
Last night, she said: ‘This was clearly a misleading answer by the First Minister, who overestimated the number of jobs created by renewables considerably.
‘It’s not the first time this month Alex Salmond has given inaccurate figures to Holyrood, and this has to stop.
‘We know the SNP is obsessed with wind energy, but over-egging the benefits in such a spectacular way is not how to win the argument.
‘He must now come to parliament and explain why he misled – is he just going to blame an inaccurate briefing again, or that he gave the figure in good faith?’
Holyrood Presiding Officer Tricia Marwick told MSPs last night that the official record had been changed – but Mr Salmond is expected to come under more pressure on the issue at this afternoon’s First Minister’s Question Time.
Scottish Labour MSP Richard Baker said: ‘It appears that Alex Salmond lies instinctively. When asked about the number of jobs in renewable energy he tells the people of Scotland 18,000, but that’s simply not true.
‘When Alex Salmond is asked if he has legal advice on Europe he says “yes” – but that’s not true either.
‘Just last week on college funding he boasted to parliament that he was giving the most exact answer ever given to any parliament – and then a couple of hours later he was dragged back to admit he had misled parliament.’
Last week’s admission by Mr Salmond that he had got college funding figures wrong was a rare apology from the First Minister.
Last year, he had to apologise after falsely claiming that constitutional expert Dr Matt Qvortrup had described his push for a two-question referendum as being ‘fair, reasonable and clear’ – only for it to be revealed that he was using a quote drafted by his top spin doctor.
But he has also recently faced accusations of misleading the public on whether he has legal advice on an independent Scotland’s EU membership.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: ‘The First Minister has corrected the parliament’s official report to make it clear there now are 11,000 jobs supported by Scotland’s renewable energy sector.
‘Of course, renewable energy is a fast-growing industry, with offshore wind alone having the potential to create up to 28,000 jobs across Scotland.
‘That requires the kind of consistent, unwavering public support shown by this Government, its agencies and by the First Minister himself, who just this week joined French turbine-maker Areva in announcing a deal that could create 750 manufacturing jobs in the east of Scotland.’
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