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Salmond offered new date for evidence as committee recalls Lord Advocate

The former first minister could now face MSPs on Friday after he pulled out of his evidence session on Wednesday.

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Alex Salmond has been invited to appear before the committee on Friday (Jane Barlow/PA)

Alex Salmond has been invited to appear before the committee on Friday (Jane Barlow/PA)

Alex Salmond has been invited to appear before the committee on Friday (Jane Barlow/PA)

Alex Salmond has been invited to give evidence on Friday to the Holyrood inquiry into the Scottish Government’s botched investigation of him.

The former first minister pulled out of Wednesday’s scheduled appearance before the Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints after Parliament belatedly redacted his written evidence the day before.

Mr Salmond’s legal team said it was “clearly impossible” for him to give evidence under oath in the circumstances and offered to postpone his appearance until Friday.

A meeting of the cross-party committee agreed it still wants to hear evidence from Mr Salmond, who was awarded a £512,250 payout after the Scottish Government’s investigation of him was ruled to be “tainted by apparent bias”.

The MSPs have now invited him to appear in person on Friday.

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Lord Advocate James Wolffe during his first appearance before the committee (Russell Cheyne/PA)

Lord Advocate James Wolffe during his first appearance before the committee (Russell Cheyne/PA)

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Lord Advocate James Wolffe during his first appearance before the committee (Russell Cheyne/PA)

The committee then voted to recall Lord Advocate James Wolffe to face more questions as well as agreeing to order the Crown Office to release further documents to the committee.

Current First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will then make her appearance on Wednesday.

It also agreed to approach the High Court “as a matter of urgency” for specific guidance on how Lady Dorrian’s anonymity order from Alex Salmond’s criminal trial applies to the publication of his written evidence to the inquiry.

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Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon, pictured in 2015, are both expected to give evidence to the committee in the coming days (PA)

Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon, pictured in 2015, are both expected to give evidence to the committee in the coming days (PA)

PA

Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon, pictured in 2015, are both expected to give evidence to the committee in the coming days (PA)

A Scottish Parliament spokeswoman said: “There was unanimous agreement in the committee that it wants to hear from Alex Salmond.

“His evidence has always been an important part of the committee’s work and as such the committee agreed that it would invite Mr Salmond to give evidence in person on Friday.

“The First Minister will then give evidence as the final witness to the inquiry on Wednesday.

“The committee remains determined to complete its task set by the Parliament and today agreed further actions in order to help them complete this work.”

On the vote to approach the High Court, six MSPs – Labour’s Jackie Baillie, the Conservatives’ Donald Cameron and Margaret Mitchell, Liberal Democrat Alex Cole-Hamilton, the SNP convener of the committee Linda Fabiani and independent member Andy Wightman – voted in favour.

The SNP’s other three committee members – Alasdair Allan, Stuart McMillan, Maureen Watt – voted against.

Ms Fabiani joined the other SNP MSPs to vote against inviting the Lord Advocate and Crown Agent and issue a Section 24 order, under the terms of Section 23 of the Scotland Act, to the Crown Office.

Both were passed by five votes to four.

PA


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