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Inquiry demands information about Salmond’s accusations of evidence suppression

The Scottish Government and Alex Salmond’s lawyers have been asked to release documents relating to claims of ‘non-disclosure’ of evidence.

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Alex Salmond had alleged that the Government was responsible for a pattern of ‘non-disclosure’ of evidence (Andy Buchanan/PA)

Alex Salmond had alleged that the Government was responsible for a pattern of ‘non-disclosure’ of evidence (Andy Buchanan/PA)

Alex Salmond had alleged that the Government was responsible for a pattern of ‘non-disclosure’ of evidence (Andy Buchanan/PA)

Alex Salmond’s lawyers and the Scottish Government have both been asked to release further information by the Holyrood inquiry into the unlawful investigation of the former first minister.

Towards the end of Mr Salmond’s evidence session on Friday, he suggested his lawyers would be “extremely willing” to provide the committee with documents that have previously been denied to it by the Scottish Government.

Speaking under oath, he said there had been an “undeniable” pattern of non-disclosure and “deliberate suppression of information that is inconvenient to the Government”.

Committee convener Linda Fabiani has now written to David McKie of Levy and McRae to ask him to provide the transcript of the Commission and Diligence – the process used for the recovery of evidence during Mr Salmond’s successful legal challenge of the Government’s investigation.

The committee has also asked for a copy of a witness statement, referenced during the evidence session, in which a government special adviser is alleged to have said they expected to lose the judicial review to Mr Salmond, but “get him” in the criminal case.

The former SNP leader suggested it was an indication that the Government hoped “the criminal case would ride to the rescue, like the cavalry over the hill, and that somehow the civil case would never be heard”.

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Alex Salmond claimed the Scottish Government ‘ignored the provisions of a search warrant’ and failed to hand over evidence (Andy Buchanan/PA)

Alex Salmond claimed the Scottish Government ‘ignored the provisions of a search warrant’ and failed to hand over evidence (Andy Buchanan/PA)

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Alex Salmond claimed the Scottish Government ‘ignored the provisions of a search warrant’ and failed to hand over evidence (Andy Buchanan/PA)

He also cited evidence released to the committee that the Permanent Secretary – Scotland’s most senior civil servant and the decision-maker in the investigation of Mr Salmond – had contacted two of the complainants during the process.

Mr Salmond explained: “Perhaps the most significant thing about it is that that was the first time that my legal team, I, the committee, or anybody, knew about that.

“It was not disclosed across the judicial review, despite the duty of candour, which was explained to the Government by its own counsel and by Lord Pentland.

“It was not even disclosed in the criminal process, and I will not stray into that, but a specific search warrant was applied on the Government, a year past – October or November – that specifically asked for contact between the permanent secretary and complainants, and that contact was not disclosed even to a search warrant by the Crown Office.”

He added: “The Government ignored the provisions of a search warrant in the criminal case and, despite the impact on the administration of justice, still withheld key documents that should have been put before the jury.

“This committee has been blocked and tackled at every turn, with calculated and deliberate suppression of key evidence.”

Describing the disclosure of Permanent Secretary Leslie Evans’ involvement as “almost beyond imagination”, Mr Salmond said: “That is not about the duty of candour; it is a refusal to produce information in the face of a search warrant, which is obstruction of justice.

“There are consequences for such things.”

It is not for the Government to assess the evidence and inform the committee of its conclusionsLinda Fabiani MSP

In a letter to Deputy First Minister John Swinney, the committee demanded that the Government hand over all records relating to a possible pause – known as sisting – to the judicial review if criminal charges were brought against Mr Salmond.

Ms Fabiani wrote: “The committee notes that in your letter sent yesterday evening you suggest you asked officials to assess all records relating to sisting the judicial review and have decided that it does not substantiate comments made in evidence by the former first minister.

“The committee requires to receive all records that refer to or relate to any
consideration or discussion of sisting the judicial review.

“It is not for the Government to assess the evidence and inform the committee of its conclusions.

“It is for the committee to receive evidence from different parties, assess it and reach findings.”

It also asks the Government to release a draft letter – if it exists – from the First Minister to former first ministers informing them of a new harassment claims policy that would include former ministers for the first time.

PA


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