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Sturgeon mocked for lunch meeting with junior German minister

STV News has learned the meeting took place in a restaurant as opposed to German foreign office.

By STV News

Published 02 Oct 2016.

The First Minister's meeting with a junior German minister in August has been mocked after it emerged it took place in a restaurant.

Sturgeon travelled to Berlin on August 9 for a meeting with Michael Roth, a junior minister in Angela Merkel's coalition cabinet, to discuss the UK's vote to leave the European Union.

The meeting was not publicised to the Scottish press before the trip and was announced in a joint press release after the engagement between both parties.

On the day of the trip Roth's office refused to disclose to the news agency Reuters where the meeting was held despite stating in the press release that the pair initially met at the German foreign office.

STV News has learned through a Freedom of Information request that the meeting was actually held in a restaurant as opposed to any German federal government venue.

Roth, who is a member of the SPD which is the junior party in the coalition, took Sturgeon to Vau after posing for pictures with her inside the foreign office.

Vau, which has a michelin star, was described as a "backstreet brauhaus" by the Scottish Conservatives deputy leader Jackson Carlaw.

Carlaw said: "Not only are heads of state across Europe refusing to meet Nicola Sturgeon, but even those who do agree only to see her in a backstreet brauhaus.

"The SNP may like to think it has terrific influence abroad, but that is clearly not the case.

"The Scottish Government would be much better served teaming up with UK counterparts and getting the best deal possible than fantasising that they have influence in Germany while consuming local sausage and a plate of bratwurst."

A senior Scottish Government source confirmed the meeting's venue to STV News but defended the meeting's significance.

The source said: "Mr Carlaw's buffoonish and ill-informed caricatures of our European neighbours speak volumes about the Tories' attitudes to Europe.

"But the reality is the First Minister has been warmly received in Brussels - by the Presidents of both the European Commission and Parliament, and the Parliament's lead Brexit negotiator - as well as in Berlin by Germany's Europe Minister, described as 'one of the most influential upcoming politicians in chancellor Angela Merkel's cabinet'"

Roth described the lunch meeting as "a very pleasant and constructive conversation".

The Scottish Government refused to release parts of the briefing document, including whole pages, prepared for the First Minister ahead of her visit to the German capital.

The government say this is because Scottish ministers need "private thinking space" to determine their position on the future of Scotland's relationship with the European Union.

Scottish Labour called on the Scottish Government to release all documentation.

The party's Europe spokesman Lewis Macdonald said: "The SNP Government should release all documentation relating to discussions with the EU about Scotland's continued membership, along with any legal advice ministers have commissioned."

In June the First Minister stated she will take advice over the country's constitutional future but she will not commit to publishing it.

Sturgeon said: "You know the situation with legal advice so I am not sitting here saying we will publish every piece of advice we get, no government would do that.

"What I have said is that all along here, remember I am in a position here I did not choose to be in, so all along - I said this in parliament yesterday - I will be open and honest with people about the circumstances we face, about the challenges we face, about the barriers we face as well as the opportunities we face."