Plans for a single security and intelligence service in an independent Scotland will not offer the level of protection and support currently provided as part of the UK, according to a former chief of MI6.
Sir John Scarlett said British intelligence services have been built up over decades – “work which cannot be replicated in just a few years”.
Writing in the Times newspaper, Sir John, who served as chief of the British Secret Intelligence Service from 2004 to 2009, said: “In my view, the Scottish Government proposals will not offer the level of protection and support currently provided by the highly-sophisticated British security and intelligence agencies.”
His comments follow an intervention from Sir David Omand, the former head of GCHQ, who described the SNP’s defence plans as “fundamentally flawed” and issued a warning over the future of cyber security.
Former Nato commander General Sir Richard Shirreff branded the SNP’s defence policies as “amateurish” and “dangerous”.
Shadow defence minister Gemma Doyle said: “Yet again, we see the experts saying one thing and Alex Salmond another.
“The SNP‘s defence and security policies fall apart under scrutiny. It makes no sense for us to pay more money for less security.
“The nationalists cannot tell us how much it would cost to set up new defence and security agencies, but it’s clear from experts like Sir John Scarlett that we could not replicate what we enjoy now.
“As part of the UK, we benefit from a defence and security budget of £34 billion. Why give that up?”
Former counter-terrorism chief for the police in Scotland and Yes supporter Allan Burnett said Sir John ” was a prime mover in drawing up the so called ‘dodgy dossier’ which falsely reported Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction which could be deployed within 45 minutes”.
“He was also one of the intelligence officers most closely associated with (Tony) Blair’s disastrous and illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003, the effects of which we are still regretting at international, national and personal levels,” he said.
Mr Burnett added: “Our friends, including those south of the border, will want Scotland as intelligence allies as much as we want them. Our Scottish intelligence service will be welcomed as a professional, trusted ally.
“An independent Scotland would face less of a threat from terrorism for a number of reasons. We would not add to international tension by taking part in illegal wars, and as a nuclear-free state potential terrorist targets would be removed from our country.”
Earlier this week Dame Mariot Leslie, a former UK ambassador to Nato, said she is voting Yes to Scottish independence and insisted the international alliance would welcome the new Scottish state.