Senior Officers at Moray Council gave guarantees that meetings with the Ministry of Defence in April over the future of RAF Kinloss would remain secret.
The revelation emerged after details of the secret talks were revealed by the convenor of Moray Council.
The news follows concerns that the MoD is planning to close Kinloss Barracks. Fears of closure were sparked on Monday when local MP Angus Robertson claimed to have been told by “impeccable MoD sources” that discussions had already been held with Moray Council over the disposal of Kinloss.
It has now been claimed that officers at Moray council kept details of the secret meetings from senior council officials. Council convenor Allan Wright has insisted that he only learned of the talks over the future of Kinloss on Monday.
Speaking on Radio Scotland, the convenor also revealed that papers relating to the meetings were taken back by MoD officials and that guarantees were given by council officers that the talks would remain secret.
Asked if he himself had been in receipt of MoD briefings, Mr Wright denied this was the case and said: “I haven’t been receiving briefings from the MoD, no. Our senior officers on a highly confidential basis were briefed back in April about this review coming and the fact that Kinloss might be part of that review.”
Asked if he and other officials were told back in April that Kinloss was part of any MoD review, Mr Wright replied: “No, we weren’t. And it’s quite proper that we were not. Because these things are done on a highly confidential basis.”
Wright also revealed that papers detailing what was discussed were taken from the meetings by MoD officials and that council officers gave a guarantee that what was discussed would be kept secret, “I’m told now that the papers for that informal and highly confidential meeting were taken back by MoD officials at the end of the meeting and there was a guarantee of secrecy and confidentiality surrounding that meeting at that time.” he said.
It also emerged that promises of a public consultation on the future of Kinloss given by the MoD have been broken and that any decision on the future of the base will simply be announced.
Listen to the Allan Wright interview:
Local MP Angus Robertson this week warned that any attempt to close the barracks would be unacceptable.
Mr Robertson said: “Many service personnel and their families have made their home in Moray and our local communities are hugely supportive of the bases.
“To close Kinloss Barracks and reduce the defence footprint even further in Scotland would be totally unacceptable.”
The SNP opposition group leader at Moray Council has urged the local authority to take action and set up a task force similar to that which saved RAF Lossiemouth from closure.
Councillor Gary Coull said: “The UK Tory Government promised an army presence but to even be thinking about removing that presence, which only came to Kinloss in 2012 is mindboggling.
“When RAF Lossiemouth was under threat an effective Task Force was formed to campaign against any base closure and make contingency plans for the worst scenarios.
“The SNP Council Group believe that a Task Force must be set up again involving both the public and private sector to make the case for retention of Kinloss and to make sure we are in a position to deal with whatever decisions are thrown at us.”