SNP ministers have been accused of trying to hide an “error” in a major document which inflated Scottish oil and gas jobs figures.
A paper on the Scottish Government’s plans for the offshore sector in an independent Scotland claimed 34,000 posts were projected to be created in the industry and related businesses north of the border over the next two years.
The report was published with much fanfare on July 23.
But Finance Secretary John Swinney has admitted the figure actually applied to the whole of the UK.
It has emerged that the report was corrected three days after its launch – but that was never publicised.
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: “Confusing possible jobs in Scotland alone with the situation right across the UK is a fundamental error. I am sure there are a few red faces in government offices just now.
“What is more concerning is the fact that it seems ministers tried to correct the record without letting anyone know what they were up to.”
In a parliamentary answer Mr Swinney said the paper, Maximising the Return from Oil and Gas in an Independent Scotland, was based on a Lloyds Banking Group forecast in March.
The jobs figures for Scotland were the “result of an incorrect interpretation” of data published in the Lloyds report and the offending section was altered on July 26, he said.
Tory finance spokesman Gavin Brown, who asked the original parliamentary question, said it was the second time in a year that the government had been caught “hugely exaggerating jobs figures” in the energy sector.
Last year, First Minister Alex Salmond claimed at Holyrood that the renewable energy sector provided 18,000 jobs in Scotland, only to later have the official record altered to downgrade the figure to 11,000 without telling anyone.
Mr Brown said: “Only in October the Scottish Government was caught inflating jobs figures in relation to renewable energy.
“As a result, this needs to be clarified now because the people of Scotland need to be able to trust the Scottish Government when it is talking about jobs projections.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said the Lloyds briefing indicated that all parts of Scotland would benefit from the jobs.
“Last month, Lloyds confirmed that the projection was for across the UK; we made clear to media then that we would amend our paper to reflect that and reference it accordingly,” she said.