Alex Salmond inquiry: Former First Minister warned he could face prosecution if he discloses restricted documents

Meanwhile Scottish Government to go to court over release of the potentially explosive files

Tuesday, 22nd September 2020, 4:51 pm
Updated Tuesday, 22nd September 2020, 7:09 pm
The Scottish Government is set to go to court to ascertain whether it can release documents relating to the harassment complaints procedure involving Alex Salmond
The Scottish Government is set to go to court to ascertain whether it can release documents relating to the harassment complaints procedure involving Alex Salmond

Alex Salmond has been warned by the Crown Office that he faces prosecution if he discloses restricted evidence.

The warning came as the Scottish Government said it would start legal action to find out whether it could release potentially explosive documentation about the sexual misconduct probe surrounding the former first minister.

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A letter from deputy first minister John Swinney to the committee examining the harassment complaints procedure, which was mishandled by the Scottish Government and labelled as tainted by “apparent bias”, set out the position of the Scottish Government.

The committee is examining the establishment of the process that led to the judicial review action, undertaken by Mr Salmond and conceded by the Scottish Government, which cost the taxpayer £500,000 in costs.

Letters to the Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints about the former first minister reveal further legal wrangling over the release of evidence.

Mr Swinney confirmed the Government had agreed with Mr Salmond’s lawyers to release a 120-page court record of the two sides’ pleadings.The document, from Mr Salmond’s successful judicial challenge of the botched handling of complaints, will be accompanied by a chronology of the judicial review.

The Government is bound by an agreement to not publish any information including the report by the investigating officer during the probe or other similar material unless given express permission by the court. Mr Swinney said the Scottish Government would go back to court to find out whether documents involving the complaint can be disclosed to the committee as part of the inquiry.

The deputy first minister’s letter states: “The Scottish Government therefore intends to initiate legal proceedings to seek a ruling from the court on whether certain specific documentation which the Scottish Government holds is, or is not, covered by that undertaking.

“The Scottish Government’s position is in favour of the release of those documents. Once such a ruling is available, more material may become available to be shared with the committee at that point.”

These documents could include evidence of how the specific harassment complaints linked to Mr Salmond were handled by the Government. Mr Salmond’s legal team last week threatened the Scottish Government with further court action if it attempted to release the documents.

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