Alex Salmond’s committee hearing appearance in doubt -Ex-leader may pull out as row erupts | Politics | News


Lawyers representing the former Scottish First Minister have demanded answers after the Scottish Parliament redacted large swathes of his written submission after it was published in full last night. 

They warned the decision jeopardised his planned appearance before a Holyrood committee on Wednesday.

The Scottish Parliament took down the submission from its website in which Mr Salmond alleged First Minister Nicola Sturgeon broke the ministerial code, purportedly after contempt of court concerns were raised by the Crown Office this morning. 

A newly redacted version with five sections censored has now been put on the Holyrood inquiry page. 

 

The Scottish Parliament Corporate Body (SPCB) “collectively” decided to remove and redact the submission this morning.

A Scottish Parliament spokesman, added: “The SPCB agreed to republish the submission in redacted form in line with representations from the Crown Office.

“We cannot comment any further on the redactions as the Crown Office has advised that its correspondence on this matter must be kept confidential.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Crown Office said: “In all cases where the Crown becomes aware of issues of potential contempt, these will be considered carefully and action will be taken if considered appropriate.”

In a letter to the Scottish Parliament, David McKie of Levy and McRae solicitors, Mr Salmond lawyers, asked to see the legal advice it received about redacting the submission.

David McKie of Levy and McRae solicitors, said: “Our client’s submission was carefully reviewed by us and by counsel before submission.

“There is no legal basis for the redactions that we are aware of which you now propose having gone through that extremely careful exercise.”

Mr McKie warned if “any aspect” of Mr Salmond’s submission was removed, then it “compromises his oral evidence.”

READ MORE: SNP blow: Police chief hits out at Sturgeon’s strict border plot

 

The former SNP leader made two submissions, one about the Scottish Government’s Handling of Harassment Complaints made against him and a second submission focusing on the Government’s ministerial code.

In one submission, he claimed there was a “malicious and concerted” attempt by several people see him removed from public life and names Nicola Sturgeon’s chief of staff Liz Lloyd and the First Minister’s husband and SNP chief executive Peter Murrell, as some of the people responsible for that.

In a second submission, Mr Salmond accused Ms Sturgeon of several breaches of the Scottish Government ministerial code and lying to parliament over meetings between the pair in 2018 regarding unproven harassment claims made against the former first minister.

He made clear in his submission: “I leave to others the question of what is, or is not, a conspiracy but am very clear in my position that the evidence supports a deliberate, prolonged, malicious and concerted effort amongst a range of individuals within the Scottish Government and the SNP to damage my reputation, even to the extent of having me imprisoned.”

Nicola Sturgeon however insisted Alex Salmond would not be able to prove there was a conspiracy against him.

She said last night: “What we have not seen is a shred of evidence to back these wild claims up.”

In an additional written submission, Ms Lloyd denied Mr Salmond’s allegations, adding: “I reject the allegation in its entirety and note that it is not substantiated by any evidence and is founded on a number of claims, that are false.”

An SNP spokesman said: “This is just more assertion without a shred of credible evidence.”

The Scottish Government’s Handling of Harassment Complaints Committee was set up after the Court of Session in Edinburgh ruled the Scottish Government’s handling of complaints against the former first minister to be “unlawful” in a judicial review.

This resulted in £512,250 in legal costs being paid out to Mr Salmond’s lawyers.

Mr Salmond was separately acquitted of all 13 charges including sexual assault, attempted rape and indecent assault following a trial at the High Court in Edinburgh last year.