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by Jenni Davidson
02 March 2021
Scottish Government agrees to release legal advice

John Swinney - Image credit: Scottish Government Flickr

Scottish Government agrees to release legal advice

The Scottish Government has agreed to release the legal advice that it was given in the judicial review brought by Alex Salmond over its handling of harassment complaints against him.

This comes after the Scottish Conservatives lodged a motion of no confidence in Deputy First Minister John Swinney because the information had not been released.

The vote of no confidence, which could have taken place today, was expected to be supported by all four opposition parties, meaning the government would be defeated.

MSPs have twice voted for the government to release the legal advice, but the Scottish Government had continued to refuse, saying it should remain confidential.

The one-line Conservative motion stated that parliament has no confidence in John Swinney because he had ignored the two votes.

The row centres on when the Scottish Government was told it was likely to lose the civil case brought by Salmond in 2018, in which the government ended up have to pay over £500,000 in legal fees after admitting it had acted unlawfully.

Salmond has claimed that government officials were warned they were unlikely to win the case months before they conceded.

However, the Deputy First Minister said releasing the advice would confirm that allegations that has been made would “counter the false claims”.

Swinney said: “In normal circumstances, government legal advice is not released.

“Indeed, such is the importance of being able to get frank, private advice, it is almost unheard of for the legal advice to be released.

“But, we have to acknowledge that the issues at stake now are not normal.

“The very integrity of the legal system is being questioned.

“Serious allegations have been made. This material allows people to confirm that these allegations are false.

“We have already shared in private with the Scottish Parliament’s committee on these issues the substance of the advice.

“Now, we recognise that in order to counter the false claims being made by some, we must go further.

“Subject to the mandatory legal checks and processes, we will release the key legal advice.”

Read the most recent article written by Jenni Davidson - Lib Dems to challenge Scottish Government over secret correspondence with the Queen

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