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Court says more documents can be made available to harassment committee

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Court says more documents can be made available to harassment committee

The Scottish Government and Alex Salmond are both free to hand over more documents to the inquiry looking into the handling of harassment complaints against Salmond, the Court of Session has said.

Pam McFarlane, the principle clerk of the court, told Holyrood’s Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints that while some information cannot be given without a court order, both parties are free to take back evidence they submitted during Salmond’s 2019 judicial review and give it to the inquiry.

In a letter to the committee, McFarlane said that “a large number” of documents “might usefully be borrowed by the relevant parties and made available” to the committee “without further recourse to the court.”

McFarlane said she was unable to provide the committee with all the documents it asked for without a court order, but a large number of documents could be made available if Salmond and the government asked for them back and then handed them over to the committee.

The alternative would be to seek a court order, she said.

McFarlane wrote: “However, there still remain a large number of parts of process which I consider to essentially constitute productions, which might usefully be borrowed by the relevant parties and made available to you without further recourse to the court.

“I could request that the parties borrow their productions back, since the process is at an end, and it would then be a matter of requesting them to deliver them to you.

“As an alternative to parties borrowing their productions and making them available to you, the Committee, represented by the Scottish Parliament Corporate Body, may wish to consider making an application to the Court for an order authorising access to the documents that the Committee wishes to consider in the context of fulfilling its remit.

“I can make no comment on whether such an application would be granted.”

The committee is investigating what went wrong with the Scottish Government’s handling of harassment complaints made against Salmond.

That probe was found to be unlawful by the Court of Session and resulted in the government having to pay Salmond over £500,000 in legal expenses.

Committee convener Linda Fabiani has expressed her frustration in recent weeks with the willingness of parties to cooperate with the committee investigation, accusing the Scottish Government and Salmond of “obstruction”.

Last week Fabiani wrote to the court asking for access to all the main documents associated with Salmond’s judicial review.

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