Alex Salmond inquiry: ‘rattled’ SNP attack publication of claims against Nicola Sturgeon

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THE SNP have been accused of being “rattled” after attacking the publication of explosive evidence from Alex Salmond about Nicola Sturgeon.

The party claimed the Scottish Parliament’s decision, taken with the benefit of legal advice, “could jeopardise the court-ordered anonymity of complainants in a sexual offences case”. 

The SNP also questioned whether the MSPs involved would have done the same if “their wife, their mother, their daughter or their sister” had been caught up in the matter. 

The Scottish Tories said the “over-reaction” would only fuel suspicions that the Scottish Government had something to hide.

The row flared up after Holyrood’s cross-party management group agreed to publish a submission to the parliament’s inquiry into the Salmond affair.

Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Tories all welcomed the decision. 

The only party to complain was the SNP.

 Holyrood agrees to publish explosive Alex Salmond evidence

A previous version of the submission had been censored by SNP MSPs on the inquiry in case it breached court orders, privacy or data laws. That prompted Mr Salmond’s lawyers to submit a revised version to put the matter “beyond doubt”.

After two meetings today, the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body (SPCB) agreed to publish this revised submission with redactions.

The body comprises six MSPs – one from each party at Holyrood, plus Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh as the chair.

The move should clear the way for Mr Salmond to give evidence in person and under oath next Wednesday, as he had made publication a precondition of his testimony.

Without publication, his claims would not have been included in the inquiry’s final report.

Mr Salmond alleges Ms Sturgeon repeatedly misled Holyrood about meetings he had with her in 2018 while he was being investigated by her officials over alleged sexual misconduct.

He claims his successor therefore breached the Scottish ministerial code – a resignation offence which she denies.

Responding to the SPCB’s decision, the SNP issued a statement in the name of MSP George Adam, which said: “People across Scotland will be utterly bewildered that the corporate body of the national parliament has ignored clear legal advice and decided to publish information which it knows could jeopardise the court-ordered anonymity of complainants in a sexual offences case. 

“The message it is in danger of sending is that women should not dare seek to hold powerful men to account if they believe they have been mistreated. 

“We have to ask the question of the corporate body members – if it had been their wife, their mother, their daughter or their sister at the centre of this, would they have made the same decision?”

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Holyrood Tory leader Ruth Davidson said: “This is a bizarre response from the SNP, who are clearly rattled that their attempts to shut down scrutiny are no longer working. Their clear overreaction only confirms in people’s minds that they must have something to hide.

“Nobody is suggesting for a second that information would ever be published jeopardising a complainant’s anonymity. 

“That would be totally unacceptable and that’s why it’s so concerning that a complainant’s name was leaked to Alex Salmond’s team, yet nobody in government has been sacked for doing so.

“As the ruling party, it is the SNP’s own government who so badly let down women who came forward. It is therefore galling to hear them falsely accuse others of doing the same.

“It was an SNP First Minister accused of sexual misconduct and an SNP Government who botched the investigation. They clearly feel if they throw enough mud at others, people may forget those material facts. They won’t. 

 “We must uncover what happened here for the complainants who were so badly let down.”

Ms Sturgeon refused three times last week at FMQs to say whether she would quit if she was found to have breached the code, despite it being regarded as automatic.

The inquiry is investigating how the Government botched its misconduct probe, leading to Mr Salmond overturning it in court, leaving taxpayers with a £512,000 bill for his costs.

He was later charged with sexual assault but acquitted on all counts at a trial last March.

 

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