The Foreign Office has denied the existence of any such memo as that allegedly leaked to the Daily Telegraph, which has now published the full text. Reading it, I can say for sure it is not an FCO memo. That has led some to assume this means it is a Scottish Office memo. But there is a problem here.
Firstly, if the Scottish Office – or any other government department – made a record of a conversation with the French Consul-General, they would undoubtedly have copied it to the FCO. Particularly as the FCO is mentioned and a number of overseas visits and an international negotiation are discussed. If this were a genuine minute, the FCO would undoubtedly have a copy. If the FCO denies it exists, that means there was no such memo made in the Scottish Office and distributed in the ordinary channels.
Secondly, as I stated, the media’s claim that it was a protocol requirement for the French Embassy to report such conversations to the FCO was a complete fabrication. Not only is there no such requirement, it would be contrary to normal diplomatic practice. That is even more true with the Scottish Office. It is unthinkable that the French Consul-General would report those kind of confidential comments from Nicola Sturgeon to the Scottish Office.
If Embassies reported everything people told them to their host governments, nobody would tell the embassy anything. Indeed this episode has already damaged the French Embassy, because it casts a slur upon the discretion and confidentiality which is essential to operate as a diplomat. It may well be that driving a wedge between the SNP and the French Embassy was part of what the security services sought to achieve.
It damages the French Embassy, it damages the SNP, and it damages Miliband by repeating the meme about his being weak and unfit. Those would all seem good results to the security services. Only Miliband has been stupid enough to go along with it.
It seems to me the overwhelming probability is that this document, whether it purports to be a FCO or Scottish Office document, was originated by the Security Services, possibly with the active collusion of someone in the Scottish Office, or equally possibly without their knowledge. Whatever it purported to be, it never entered the normal civil service distribution systems, as the FCO would have a copy, and it would have raised alarm bells all over the place as seriously weird and improbable. It is in that sense a fake, even if it were physically produced inside the Scottish Office. Its purpose was to be leaked to the media and influence the election.