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26 November 2020
Scottish Government again asked to hand over Salmond legal advice


Scottish Government again asked to hand over Salmond legal advice

The Scottish Government has again been asked to hand over the legal advice it received on its investigation into Alex Salmond.

The committee inquiry into the handling of harassment complaints against Salmond wrote to John Swinney asking specifically for the advice the Scottish Government received from its lawyers on the prospects of success in defending the probe at judicial review.

It has also asked former SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson if he knew anything about allegations or complaints against Salmond and whether he took any action as a result.

The committee is investigating what went wrong with a Scottish Government probe into harassment complaints against Salmond which was later found to be unlawful by judicial review, resulting in the government paying over £500,000 to Salmond in legal fees.

Convener Linda Fabiani wrote to Swinney following what she described as “a number of lengthy delays” in getting the evidence the committee has asked for from the Scottish Government.

The Scottish Parliament has voted twice for the Scottish Government to publish the legal advice.

The question also dominated FMQs on Thursday, with Scottish Conservative Holyrood leader Ruth Davidson asking First Minister Nicola Sturgeon whether the advice warned that the Scottish Government’s probe into Salmond was “deeply flawed”.

Sturgeon refused to deny that but instead said that she would not get into the “detail” of the advice until a decision was reached on whether to publish it.

Fabiani told Swinney that in order to minimise “any further delays” that he should hand over the particular part of the legal advice that was provided ahead of Salmond’s 2018 judicial review.

She said the “priority for the committee is to receive copies of the written advice provided by counsel, in particular on the prospects of success”.

She added: “I must repeat that we are suggesting this to avoid further delays but the committee still expects the Scottish Government to release its [full] legal advice as previously requested”.

Separately, the committee has written to former SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson to ask what he might have known about the allegations or complaints made against Salmond.

Fabiani asked whether in his capacity as leader of the SNP group he had any interactions or communications with Sturgeon or other Scottish Government figures regarding the affair.

She also asked if he took any actions based on any knowledge he may have had.

SNP chief executive Peter Murrell, who is Sturgeon's husband, has also been asked to appear before the committee on 8 December. 

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