Alex Salmond committee tells us much about how Scotland is run - Brian Wilson

It may be largely ignored by our broadcasters, but the Holyrood Committee investigating how the Scottish Government handled complaints against Alex Salmond, and lost £500,000, tells a lot about how Scotland is run.

Civil servants have been accused of "amnesia" when giving evidence to the Alex Salmond inquiry.
Civil servants have been accused of "amnesia" when giving evidence to the Alex Salmond inquiry.

To date, four senior civil servants who gave evidence under oath have returned with corrections to their testimonies – each resulting from contradictory information emerging.

What would a Sheriff or Judge make of it if these were court proceedings? Would it be satisfactory that so many key witnesses misled proceedings through “inadvertent errors” in sworn testimony?

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That is before we get to the First Minister’s preliminary run round the course with extraordinary memory lapses on matter seminal to her own career and the fate of her mentor.

I read this week’s transcript and noticed one unreported internal contradiction which is actually quite significant as evidence of political involvement in a legal process.

The Investigating Officer, Judith MacKinnon, described regular “update” meetings with Government lawyers. It was Ms MacKinnon’s prior contacts with complainants which led to the collapse of the Scottish Government’s case in the Court of Session.

Asked if Special Advisers attended, she said they did not. The next witness, Barbara Allision, was asked the same question and confirmed that either Sturgeon’s chief of staff, Liz Lloyd, or chief PR man, Stuart Nicolson, had been present at all meetings.

The questioner, Jackie Baillie MSP, wondered aloud: “So who am I to believe?”. Who indeed?

This is not about Salmond, for or against. It is about the reliability of evidence from senior levels of the Scottish Government - which currently stands at zero.