NO UK Government officials sat in on meetings between First Minister Humza Yousaf and a host of foreign ambassadors – despite the UK Foreign Secretary’s recent instructions to British diplomats.

The National understands that Yousaf’s meetings with key figures including the EU and the German ambassadors to the UK were held without the presence of representatives from the Tory government.

The news comes despite the fact that, earlier in April, Foreign Secretary James Cleverly told senior officials across the globe to “confidently” represent “the strengths of the Union” amid fears the SNP were successfully using diplomacy with foreign governments “to promote Scottish separatism”.

READ MORE: UK 'treating Scottish ministers like children', expert says

Cleverly issued a set of rules to UK diplomats, including telling them to ensure that a UK Government official sits in on any and all meetings between SNP ministers and foreign governments.

But the rules did not extend to Yousaf’s slew of meetings with key European diplomats in London this week, The National understands.

The SNP leader met with Germany’s ambassador to the UK, Miguel Berger, on April 25. Berger said the meeting had been a "good opportunity for a discussion on Scottish government priorities and cooperation with international partners".

Yousaf also met with Ukrainian ambassador Vadym Prystaiko earlier that same day.

The previous day, April 24, Yousaf had met with Pedro Serrano, the EU’s ambassador to the UK. And the following day, April 26, saw the First Minister meet Piotr Wilczek, Poland’s ambassador.

Wilczek said that the pair had discussed "the situation in Scotland and the UK as a whole, EU-Scotland and Polish-Scottish relations, Poles in Scotland and more".

But The National understands that nobody from the Tory government was present to “gather information” and report back to the Foreign Office, as Cleverly had requested of all meetings between the Scottish Government and others from overseas.

The UK Government did not respond to multiple requests for confirmation on whether they had, or asked to have, one of their own officials present in any of the meetings.

The day after the publication of this story, a spokesperson said: “It is entirely up to foreign diplomats who they wish to meet with in the UK to discuss issues that affect all parts of the country.

“The Foreign Secretary is responsible for the UK’s foreign policy, with our embassies and high commissions overseas tirelessly promoting the interests of the whole nation.

“We have a strong record of working constructively with the devolved governments and will continue to provide appropriate support overseas for devolved policies."

The slew of high-profile meetings came during Yousaf’s visit to London.

Previously, Dr Kirsty Hughes, a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh who formerly worked at the European Commission, told The National that diplomats would most likely “ignore” Cleverly’s instructions.

She said: “These are serious politicians and diplomats and officials. They don’t need a desperately controlling – embarrassing frankly – message. I’m sure diplomats on the whole may well ignore [it].

“If host governments see British diplomats running around trying to control the Scottish Government in a micro-managing sort of way … I would think it might create sympathy.

Brexit created more understanding for independence, and this heavy-handed attempt to control and fence in the Scottish Government, I just think it might add to the way foreign diplomats and politicians see the constitutional divide.

“If they see the Scottish Government being treated like children they may go ‘well that’s a bit odd’.”