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MSPs take 'unprecedented' action to obtain Salmond documents from Crown Office

MSPs take 'unprecedented' action to obtain Salmond documents from Crown Office

The Holyrood committee examining the Scottish Government's handling of harassment complaints against Alex Salmond has issued a notice compelling prosecutors to hand over material relevant to its investigation.

The committee, which was set up to look into the government's botched handling of the complaints, said it had issued a notice to the Crown Office under the Scotland Act - the first time a committee has issued such a notice.

The MSPs have asked for the release of texts and WhatsApp messages as well as documents relevant to the circumstances in which details of the sexual harassment complaints were leaked to the Daily Record in August 2018.

The MSPs are investigating the Scottish Government's handling of complaints against the former first minister.

The taxpayer was forced to pick up Salmond's £500,000 legal bill after the Court of Session ruled the government's investigation had been "unlawful".

Committee convener Linda Fabiani MSP said: “Throughout this inquiry, the committee has been determined to get as much information as possible to inform its task.

“It was today agreed that the Committee will use its powers under Section 23 of the Scotland Act to require the Crown Office to produce a number of documents.

“This is a step that hasn’t been taken lightly, and is a first for this Parliament, but which the committee felt was needed as it continues its vital work.”

Scottish Labour interim leader and committee member Jackie Baillie said:  “This unprecedented action is necessary to cut through the web of secrecy that the Scottish Government has woven and to allow the committee to live up to its remit.

“At every turn, the SNP government has sought to hide vital material from the committee in a vain effort to leave it a toothless entity; a talking-shop without power.

“Enough is enough – the secrecy must end. The committee must receive the documents requested forthwith so that the truth of this sorry affair can be uncovered.”

The committee has given the Crown Office until next Friday to hand over the documents.

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