Alex Salmond inquiry: Civil servants accused of 'amnesia'

Senior civil servants giving evidence to Holyrood’s Salmond inquiry have been accused of “selective amnesia” as more evidence to MSPs has had to be corrected, despite it being given on oath.

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.

Labour MSP Jackie Baillie, who sits on the Scottish Parliament committee investigating the government’s botched handling of complaints against former First Minister Alex Salmond, said it was “shocking” that the evidence being given to the inquiry was not “candid”.

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Her comments came as the woman who conducted the investigation into the complaints, Judith Mackinnon, had to correct the evidence she gave to the committee earlier this week - revealing she did tell one of the complainers that she would be the investigating officer.Ms Mackinnon, who gave evidence via audio rather than appear in person, has now had to write to the committee after telling MSPs the opposite on Tuesday.

In a letter to chair, Linda Fabiani, the Head of People Advice within the Scottish Government says: “As you would expect, I took providing evidence to the Committee very seriously, and prepared for it thoroughly in order to give complete answers to any question asked.

“I have reviewed the Official Report and identified that I have inadvertently provided an incorrect response to a question asked by Ms Baillie about whether I had advised any of the complainants that I was going to be appointed as the Investigating Officer prior to that appointment being confirmed. I am writing to you now at the first opportunity to correct the record.

“Having reviewed the answer I provided against my records, I can confirm to the Committee that in an e-mail I sent to Ms B, I gave an indication that I would likely be the Investigating Officer.”

She adds: “In that email, I provided Ms B with advice about the process that would apply if a formal complaint was received. As part of that advice, I indicated that she would be interviewed and that the interview was “likely to be led by myself”. Although I did not explicitly say that I was to be appointed as the Investigating Officer, I gave a clear indication that it was likely that I would be.

“Please accept my apologies for inadvertently providing an incorrect answer and I would be grateful if the record could be updated to reflect the correct information provided in this letter.”

Her correction comes just a day after former HR director Barbara Allison told the committee she had received a controversial text message from Permanent Secretary Leslie Evans despite previously telling MSPs she had not. This week she admitted that after the government lost the judicial review to Mr Salmond, she did get the message which stated “battle maybe lost, but not the war”.

Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie said: “It is shocking that senior civil servants come before the committee and, despite being on oath, fail to give candid answers.

“Some suffer from selective amnesia and others have to subsequently correct their evidence to the committee because they got it wrong the first time.

“The Scottish Government needs to start treating this inquiry seriously.”

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