After a “watershed” meeting in December 2018, the Scottish government’s legal battle with Alex Salmond failed, a newly published legal opinion reveals.
At a late stage of the legal challenge, records detailing previous interaction between those who complained of abuse and the investigation officer were found and challenged earlier government statements.
This led to Secretary of State Leslie Evans notifying ministers on Jan. 2, 2019 that, despite questions about previous contact between a complainant and the investigating officer first being raised in October 2018, the investigation should be granted – a decision lodged with the Court of Session two days later.
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The verdict meant that Mr. Salmond won a payment of more than £ 500,000, with the court finding on 8 January 2019 at a hearing that the inquiry was “tainted by obvious bias”
On Wednesday, a censored version of the Dec. 29, 2018, legal opinion was issued.
It follows a dispute over access to the paper between a Scottish Parliament committee investigating the treatment of abuse cases and the government.
“The key point to note is the ‘turning point’ of last Friday (Dec. 21, 2018), when the SG [redaction]case became untenable, given what came out that day about the nature of the contact between the IO (investigating officer) and the potential complainants before their formal complaints were made.” the document in question, sent to Ms. Evans, said.
It goes on to state that there was nothing to indicate that the officers behaved “in bad faith,” but it was evident that “systematic and comprehensive.” was not the document production procedure.
Counsel claimed that it was possibly the only ‘sensitive’ way forward to accept the case before Lord Pentland in the Court of Session, adding that their legal team would have to abandon the case if the matter was not resolved.
The Scottish government admitted in a letter accompanying the document released on Wednesday that there had been a “collective organizational failure” to collect all relevant information.
It said, “Lessons have been learned about identifying and coordinating documents during such processes.”
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Conservative committee member Murdo Fraser said, reflecting on the release of the legal opinion, “The contents of these documents reveal that senior SNP government officials were hell-bent on defending an indefensible case.”
Before common sense eventually prevailed, it seems it took pressure from outside attorneys to leave.
The careless and cavalier attitude of the government not only failed the two complainants, but cost taxpayers a lot in the cost of litigation.
“These revelations make it more important than ever that the government’s legal advice is published in full, as the Scottish Parliament has twice called for.”