Liberal Democrat Peer Jeremy Purvis today said reports that the First Minister called the Chairman of Scottish Financial Enterprise (SFE) to warn against the publication of a referendum briefing paper point towards a culture of intimidation that goes to the top of the SNP.
Media reports also revealed allegations that the First Minister and Finance Secretary John Swinney rang senior executives of SFE companies expressing SNP concerns over the paper.
Commenting, Jeremy Purvis said:
"SFE represent companies that employ 200,000 people across the country. It is absolutely right that they should have the chance to engage with the referendum debate in the way that they see fit without fear of reprisal.
"The fact that the First Minister and the Finance Secretary felt the need to discourage SFE from seeking to keep their members informed of what the consequences of leaving the UK would be for a key Scottish industry is hugely concerning.
"We knew Ministers and figures within the First Minister's office have been quick to lean on businesses, professors and other groups that do not share their constitutional views. These latest revelations paint a picture of a culture of intimidation that goes right to the top of the SNP."