Alex Salmond inquiry: Tories in fresh Holyrood attempt to force release of legal advice

A second vote aimed at forcing the Scottish Government to publish the legal advice it received when defending its handling of harassment complaints against Alex Salmond, will be held in Holyrood this week.

Alex Salmond speaks outside the High Court in Edinburgh after he was cleared of all charges
Alex Salmond speaks outside the High Court in Edinburgh after he was cleared of all charges

The Scottish Conservatives are again hoping that further pressure from the Scottish Parliament will compel the government to release the advice it received for the judicial review which was won by Mr Salmond at a cost of more than £500,000.

A Tory vote calling on the government to release the legal advice already agreed in Holyrood earlier this month, but the deadline for the government to act has passed without it being produced. The party now says it will bring a second vote to Parliament on Wednesday to demand it is published immediately.

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Refusal to permit Alex Salmond inquiry witnesses unacceptable, warns committee

The government has refused to release the legal advice as it says it is not in the public interest, and raised fears that future advice may not be as “full and frank” as required.

Scottish Conservative spokesman on the Salmond inquiry, Murdo Fraser MSP, said: “It’s a dark day for the Scottish Parliament when the government arrogantly dismisses its will without even lifting a finger.

“The Scottish Conservatives are confident that MSPs of all parties will send a clear message that the government have no choice. They must release the legal advice, which would help to explain how more than £500,000 of taxpayers’ money was lost to Alex Salmond.

“The SNP think they can ignore scrutiny and get away with it. We’re calling for opposition parties to unite against this disgraceful display of arrogance.”

The botched handling of the complaints made against Mr Salmond led to a judicial review, won by the former first minister with the government accused of carrying out a procedure which was unlawful. Yet ministers continue to insist they should not have to release private advice from lawyers.

A spokesperson for the Scottish Government said: “The Deputy First Minister has clearly set out in his letter to the Committee on Friday 13 November the detailed consideration that the Government is giving to this issue and also the extensive steps that are being taken to secure the release of further documentation.

"The Lord Advocate provided evidence to the Committee on Tuesday 17 November about the legal position taken by the Scottish Government during the judicial review.”

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