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by Louise Wilson
14 June 2022
Presiding Officer stops ministerial statement on indyref2 after details given to media

REUTERS / Alamy Stock Photo

Presiding Officer stops ministerial statement on indyref2 after details given to media

Angus Robertson has been prevented from making a statement on independence to the Scottish Parliament after significant details were announced to the media beforehand.

Presiding Officer Alison Johnstone reprimanded the Scottish Government for trailing its plan and a paper on independence at a press event this morning before giving details to MSPs.

She said: “Yesterday afternoon, significant news that should have been announced in this chamber as a matter of courtesy and respect to the parliament was reported by national media, trailing a media event this morning.”

“The government is in no doubt that I do not regard this as acceptable and in these circumstances the parliament’s time is used best by moving straight to questions,” Johnstone added.

It is not the first time the government has been warned by the Presiding Officer about releasing information to the media in advance of a planned parliamentary statement.

Earlier this year, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon committed to undertaking an investigation into the leaking of a Covid update to the media.

At the time, Johnstone said it was “extremely disappointing and is disrespectful to this parliament” to see such information in the media prior to Sturgeon’s statement.

Good practice guidance on Scottish Government announcements says “matters of significant and either immediate or ongoing public importance” must be made first in parliament.

It says there is a “presumption against announcing matters of importance to the media before it has been announced to the parliament and the parliament has had the chance to question and comment on the matter.”

Asked why the paper on independence was not announced to MSPs first, Parliamentary Business Minister George Adam said it contained “no significant policy commitments”.

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