scottish independentists already becoming paranoid about spies

James Aitken, formerly involved in overseas development, said "sleepers" may have been placed "ready to be activated as required".

Scotland would be at a "considerable disadvantage" in the negotiations that would follow a Yes vote, Mr Aitken wrote in The Scottish Review.

Scottish negotiators with little international experience other than fish talks and a few trade missions would face a "formidable" team ready to secure the best deal for the remainder of the UK, he said.

The UK may also get help from US intelligence agents keen to safeguard the UK nuclear deterrent, he said, while the best Scottish negotiators could hope for is a few "spilled beans" from Whitehall.

He said: "It's a fair bet that any paper produced on independence by St Andrew's House will be circulating in Whitehall's red boxes within 24 hours, along with reports on discussions in private office and ministerial exchanges. "Sigint (signal intelligence) can provide access to the computer system while Humint (human intelligence) will fill in the gaps.

the problem with sleepers is that they seem more loyal than all the others or that they seem like all the others which makes everybody too loyal suspicious and all the others suspicious so everybody is suspicious of each other

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