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12 November 2020
Salmond and Swinney accused of being 'deeply disrespectful' to committee inquiry


Salmond and Swinney accused of being 'deeply disrespectful' to committee inquiry

The convener of the committee investigating the Scottish Government’s handling of harassment complaints has said she is “beyond frustration” with the willingness of Alex Salmond and the Scottish Government to cooperate with the inquiry.

Linda Fabiani accused both parties of behaving in a “deeply problematic and deeply disrespectful” way by providing evidence that “lacks detail and indeed usefulness” or by refusing to provide evidence at all.

She also asked Deputy First Minister John Swinney why he had failed to previously mention that an aide to Nicola Sturgeon had twice met with someone who would later accuse Salmond of misconduct.

Fabiani wrote to both Salmond and Swinney calling for an end to the “prevarication and obfuscation”.

The committee is investigating what went wrong with a Scottish Government probe into harassment complaints made against Salmond, which led to a judicial review ruling the government had acted unlawfully.

The Scottish Government had to pay over £500,000 to Salmond in legal costs as a result.

Fabiani has previously accused both Salmond and the Scottish Government of obstructing the committee investigation.

Salmond is yet to provide written evidence, despite being asked to do so repeatedly ahead of his scheduled appearance before the committee next month.

Various figures in the Scottish Government have provided both oral and written evidence to the committee, but documents requested by the committee remain outstanding.

Three Scottish Government officials who did appear before the committee also had to subsequently write to the committee to correct the information they gave to MSPs.

Fabiani wrote to both Swinney and Salmond to urge them to provide the evidence previously requested by the committee.

She urged Salmond to submit his written statement, which she stressed does not require the release of documents relating to Salmond’s separate criminal trial nor items held by the courts.

Salmond’s lawyers had previously said he was reluctant to submit evidence without being able to reference particular documents which are currently under legal restrictions.

In her letter to Swinney, Fabiani also said that delaying the evidence the committee had asked for while waiting for a legal decision on other documents was not necessary.

In particular, she asked why Swinney had not previously told the committee about a meeting  where a women made a “disclosure” to John Somers, who is Sturgeon’s private secretary, before going on to file a complaint against Salmond.

The meeting had not been included in any Scottish Government timeline of events given to the committee before 6 November.

Fabiani said: “Week after week the committee is in a position where it is clear to us that the evidence being shared with the committee lacks detail and indeed usefulness. This is both deeply problematic and deeply disrespectful.

“I have, on multiple occasions, made it clear exactly what evidence the committee wants to see. There is no doubt that we have received a large amount of information. But we are receiving very few clear answers.

“I am in a position today where I am, yet again, writing letters to express my frustration at the delay, the prevarication and obfuscation. But this goes beyond frustration. This must end and we will complete our work and do the job given to us by the nation’s parliament.”

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