Alex Salmond inquiry: Crown has questions to answer about SNP chief executive Peter Murrell's 'misspoken' messages – Kenny MacAskill

Readers may recall I received a document through the post weeks back, said to be a message from Peter Murrell, SNP chief executive, which seemed of relevance to the ongoing Alex Salmond inquiry at Holyrood.

Wednesday, 14th October 2020, 11:13 am
Updated Thursday, 15th October 2020, 7:08 am
A committee of MSPs is looking into the Scottish Government's handling of complaints against Alex Salmond  (Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire)
A committee of MSPs is looking into the Scottish Government's handling of complaints against Alex Salmond (Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire)

I sent a copy of it to the Crown Office on 7 September, as well as forwarding it to the Holyrood committee and making it publicly available a few days later after receiving no response from law officers. Instead, their position was simply to initiate a police inquiry into a leak.

I met with officers from Police Scotland last week with them at pains to point out they were acting on the instructions of the Crown.

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Hardly surprising given the pressure they’re under and this can hardly be at the top of their list of priorities. Even more astonishing was the fact that the Crown hadn’t even given the officers a copy of the document, but I was happy to oblige.

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However, what was even more remarkable was the written response I finally received from the Crown on 7 October, a full month after sending them the document. That was also the same date that Mr Murrell publicly admitted to sending it though suggested that he had “misspoke” in what he said.

Astonishingly, despite that acceptance of authorship, the Crown’s response to me referred to what “purported” to be a message from the chief executive and indicated they “couldn’t confirm the accuracy” of the document. You wonder just why they were then instructing a police investigation?

It’s not as if they didn’t know about either this particular document or something similar as I’d been corresponding with them over several months about such a message.

It had been the talk of the SNP steamie and my initial enquires had seen the Crown deny there being such a document.

More worryingly than that lack of candour with an elected representative were the Crown’s actions in objecting to similar messages being produced in the criminal trial.

Whilst not exculpatory, they were certainly relevant to a defence alleging a conspiracy. There are questions for the Crown besides others in all this.

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