AN unelected peer squirmed in a public debate as he was asked whether fighting talk of independence would be easier if Boris Johnson was not Prime Minister.

Offord, who was elevated to the House of Lords and made a Scotland Office minister by Johnson, was asked whether he thought the Prime Minister was the greatest recruiting sergeant for independence on the BBC's Debate Night Show on Wednesday.

But while admitting Johnson was not popular north of the border, he dodged the question and instead suggested Holyrood not having a majority of SNP MSPs meant there was "no appetite" for a referendum.

When asked if he thought Johnson was the greatest recruiting sergeant for independence, Offord said: "Yes it’s a valid question, there’s no question that on the doorsteps there’s a lot of resonance with that point of view but at the end of the day the Holyrood election that John [Nicolson] just referred to the SNP did not get a majority."

When MP Nicolson pointed out Holyrood elections were designed to prevent any party having a majority, Offord replied: "When the 2014 referendum was done Alex Salmond had a majority and there was agreement across Westminster and Holyrood to have that referendum. There’s no appetite in the country to have a referendum."

It emerged earlier this year Offord was formerly director of a firm alongside an international fugitive without his knowledge.

He was the director of Cashmaster International Ltd until November 2021. He had taken a non-executive director’s role after having bought the firm in 2014.

During his time at the company’s head, Offord saw the firm hire, and then promote to director, Matt Jaeger - a fraudster being hunted by Interpol.

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It was Jaeger’s promotion to director - and his subsequent listing on Companies House - that led to his eventual capture and prosecution, The National has been told. Jaeger had reportedly been very hesitant about getting involved in any social media drives which the company was eager to promote.

In 2017, a year after the Scotland Office said the firm had dismissed Jaeger for “gross misconduct”, he was sentenced to 12 months behind bars after he pled guilty to defrauding a Northern Irish woman and her family out of thousands of pounds.

During Wednesday night's show, Offord was pressed further on the independence issue by host Stephen Jardine, who asked if Johnson made it harder for the Tories to fight off discussions about Scotland leaving the UK.

But Offord looked uncomfortable as he stumbled to answer.

He eventually said: "I think at the end of the day, Boris Johnson is the leader and has got qualities. Boris does not play well in Scotland, we all know that.

"But we are a United Kingdom and we have to move forward in this moment of crisis together."