THE SNP Government has been accused of pressuring one of the country’s biggest retailers into making its website more Scottish.

The Scottish Tories claimed Marks and Spencer was “leant on” by officials who contacted the company after it labelled whisky and Scottish gin as products of the “United Kingdom”.

After M&S changed its website to include Scotland, officials suggested Rural Affairs Secretary Fergus Ewing “would respond positively” if the firm tweeted its correction.

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The Tories claimed the SNP government was “parochial”, and would rather berate businesses for referring to the UK than help them grow the economy.

The row dates back to November, when M&S was criticised for “Union Jackery”, listing the country of origin for some of its Scottish spirits as the UK.

A freedom of information release shows a senior official in the Scottish Government‘s Food, Drink and Trade Division contacted M&S to “get some more info” after press coverage.

The next day, after the official had spoken to M&S by phone, the company said the listing had been “an unfortunate mistake” and been rectified online.

The official replied: “Do you guys plan to send any tweets (or something) to clarify the situation? Just wondering as I’m sure if you did Mr Ewing would respond positively.”

In January this year, Mr Ewing’s officials prepared a briefing for him ahead of a meeting with M&S which referred back to the website issue.

It said civil servants spoke to the firm “to seek clarity on the situation”, M&S had “urgently investigated” and that the government had then invited M&S to meet Mr Ewing in person.

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Tory MSP Murdo Fraser said: “There’s not a person in the world who doesn’t know whisky is Scottish. But for the SNP to actively pressure a leading retailer in this way is petty and, frankly, a waste of public resources.

“It shows just how parochial the SNP government is, that it would sooner berate businesses for daring to refer to the UK, than actually help them create jobs and grow the economy.

“Instead of obsessing about Saltires and pandering to the extreme elements of the Yes movement, the SNP government should be getting on with representing the whole country.”

Asked if it had been “leant on”, M&S said it had nothing to add to its previous correction.

The FoI release also includes an email from an irate voter to Nicola Sturgeon from November titled “England taking over our produce”, which misspelled whisky as “Whiskey”.

The person wrote: “We have to fight for our identity our produce is loved and sold all over the world. I hope that you will try and stop this travesty from continuing.”

In 2016, Tesco was criticised for putting a Union Jack flag on Scottish strawberries.

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A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We appreciate the commitment that M&S and many other major retailers make to Scottish high quality food and drink.

“These documents show we raised concerns with the company in a constructive manner which were being expressed by the public - exactly as people would expect.

“Scotland’s food and drink sector is a huge international success story and it’s vital it’s promoted appropriately.”