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Tories to press Swinney no-confidence vote until all advice released

Opposition parties have signalled they would support a no-confidence motion in the Deputy First Minister.

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Mr Swinney said ‘key legal advice’ will be sent to the committee on Tuesday (Andy Buchanan/PA)

Mr Swinney said ‘key legal advice’ will be sent to the committee on Tuesday (Andy Buchanan/PA)

Mr Swinney said ‘key legal advice’ will be sent to the committee on Tuesday (Andy Buchanan/PA)

The Scottish Tories will press ahead with the vote of no confidence in the Deputy First Minister until all advice from the Alex Salmond legal action is released.

MSPs have voted twice to release the advice, given months before the Scottish Government conceded a case brought by the former first minister into the handling of complaints against him, but the Scottish Government has so far resisted.

However, following the tabling of a no-confidence motion against Mr Swinney which opposition parties indicated they would support, he announced on Monday “key legal advice” would be released, confirming in a letter to the inquiry set up to look into the affair it would be sent to them on Tuesday afternoon.

We will press ahead with the vote of no confidence until all the legal advice is publishedDouglas Ross

Tory leader Douglas Ross has said the party will press ahead with the vote until the advice is published in full.

“Recklessly continuing with the judicial review when it was doomed would clearly be a breach of the ministerial code,” Mr Ross said.

“The public deserve to know exactly what mistakes were made.

“John Swinney is not getting away with releasing only the evidence he wants us to see. We will press ahead with the vote of no confidence until all the legal advice is published.

“I’d like to thank other opposition parties for supporting Scottish Conservative moves to have the legal advice released for a third time.

“The government must be held to account and by uniting behind our motion, we will ensure the will of the Scottish Parliament is respected.”

Mr Ross’ comments come as two members of the inquiry also called for the motion of no confidence to remain on the table.

Independent MSP Andy Wightman and Tory Murdo Fraser took to Twitter on Monday, taking exception with the announcement of “key legal advice” being released.

Mr Wightman said it was not for the Scottish Government to decide what is considered to be “key”, adding: “Keep that vote of no confidence on the table.”

Mr Fraser said: “Hearing tonight that the key legal advice being offered by @scotgov may, in fact, be a carefully selected set of documents designed to paint them in a good light and not give the full picture.

“If true, then that is appalling bad faith, and we will pursue the [vote of no confidence] in @JohnSwinney.”

In his letter to the Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints, Mr Swinney admitted there were “reservations” expressed about the case after it emerged the investigating officer had prior contact with the complainers.

But he added there were “good public policy arguments and reasonable grounds for the Government to continue to defend the judicial review”.

The parliamentary bureau, the body which handles Holyrood’s scheduling, is due to discuss the motion on Tuesday morning.

In response, the convener of the Salmond committee has also warned Mr Swinney to keep redactions of the advice “to an absolute minimum”.

In a letter to the Deputy First Minister, Linda Fabiani said: “The committee requires as much evidence as possible to be put into the public domain and so redactions must be kept to an absolute minimum.”

She has also said that the advice should be published on the Scottish Government website after it is sent to the committee, adding: “Given the incredibly tight timescales the committee is subject to as a result of the late receipt of this advice and in the interests of transparency, the committee requires the processing and publication of these documents to be completed by the Scottish Government as quickly as possible.”

PA


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