The cabinet secretary and head of the civil service Sir Jeremy Heywood has ordered an inquiry into a leaked memo claiming Nicola Sturgeon said David Cameron would be preferable as Prime Minister to Labour leader Ed Miliband.
The Scottish First Minister and leader of the SNP said the claims, published in the Daily Telegraph from a leaked memo apparently written by a civil servant, were "categorically, 100 per cent untrue".
Sturgeon accused Whitehall of "dirty tricks" and wrote to Heywood asking him to investigate the leak.
The Telegraph claims to have seen an official memo from the British government detailing a meeting between Sturgeon and the French ambassador to the UK, Sylvie Bermann, in which a civil servant notes Sturgeon "confessed that she'd rather see David Cameron remain as PM (and didn't see Ed Miliband as PM material)".
.@simon_telegraph your story is categorically, 100%, untrue...which I'd have told you if you'd asked me at any point today— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) April 3, 2015
A spokesperson for the French ambassador also denied that Sturgeon had discussed her personal political preferences.
From French Embassy press office re. Telegraph splash: pic.twitter.com/QyfJUZdiuM— Alberto Nardelli (@AlbertoNardelli) April 3, 2015
The SNP leader, who succeeded Alex Salmond as First Minister of Scotland following his departure after the independence referendum, was the clear winner of the televised leaders' debate this week.