Alex Salmond inquiry: Jackie Baillie slams committee
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A Savanta ComRes poll for The Scotsman asked 1,009 Scottish adults between March 5 and 10. It revealed trust in the Scottish Government had been worst hit, with 40 percent of Scots stating they trust the SNP led administration.
This is compared with 18 percent trusting it more and 32 percent saying the Salmond affair had made no difference to their view.
The Scottish Government’s investigation of the unproven allegations against Mr Salmond was found to be “tainted by apparent bias” by Scotland’s Court of Session.
Mr Salmond was awarded £512,250 for legal costs after he successfully challenged the lawfulness of the government investigation.
The former SNP leader was also separately acquitted of all 13 charges of sexual assault against him in a criminal trial.
A Holyrood committee is now looking into the Scottish Government’s mishandling of the case.
This afternoon, the Holyrood Committee into the Scottish Government’s Handling of Harassment Complaints requested evidence held by the Crown Office.
Committee Chair Linda Fabiani said they had issued a Section 24 notice demanding correspondence regarding the implementation of the Scottish Government’s “Handling of harassment complaints involving current or former ministers” procedure.”
This includes correspondence between the Scottish Government’s communications director, Barbara Allison, and Permanent Secretary, Leslie Evans, Director of People, Nicola Richards, or Judith Mackinnon – the investigating officer whose prior contact with complainers fundamentally jeopardised the lawfulness of the investigation into Mr Salmond.
Ms Fabiani said the Committee still hadn’t got all the information it needed, adding the inquiry had only two weeks to report back to Parliament, adding:”The timeframe for the Committee to fulfil its remit and report to Parliament is limited.”
She stressed: “It is in the public interest to establish the veracity of these claims in order to allow the Committee to understand fully the actions of the Scottish Government in handling the complaints and in order to inform the conclusions of our Committee in line with its remit.”
It comes as legal advice released by the Scottish Government earlier this month revealed the Scottish Government’s own Counsel warned Mr Salmond’s case was “more likely to fail than succeed” on October 31, 2018 and “the least worst option” would be to concede on December 6, 2018.
But the Scottish Government insisted on fighting the case and did not concede to Mr Salmond until January 8, 2019.
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Murdo Fraser MSP, Scottish Conservative spokesman on the Salmond inquiry, told the Express: “We are determined to use every means at our disposal to establish why Nicola Sturgeon’s government recklessly pursued an unlawful course of action in defiance of clear legal advice.
“She and the SNP have done everything possible to block transparency and prevent the public finding out why female complainers were so badly failed, costing taxpayers at least £600,000.”
Nicola Sturgeon is coming under increasing pressure to be transparent over her predecessor with the opposition claiming the SNP was being torn apart over the affair.
Douglas Ross, Scottish Conservative leader, told the Scottish Conservative Conference the Nationalists were “battered and bruised.”
Alex Salmond says leak ‘does require further police investigation’
The Moray MP said: “Undermined not just by the Sturgeon-Salmond scandal but by nearly a decade and a half of failure and incompetency.
“All the latent ugliness in the SNP has broken out. It’s on show for all of Scotland to see.
“The scandals, the sleaze, the secrecy. Abuses of power, cover-ups, dishonesty, deceit, outright lies to the Scottish Parliament.”
Mr Ross also claimed the First Minister lied to parliament over when she knew about allegations of harassment against Mr Salmond, which if proven would be a breach of the ministerial code, and he would look to oust her in the final weeks of the parliamentary session.
The First Minister referred herself for investigation to the independent adviser on the ministerial code, James Hamilton, who is currently looking into the allegations.
The party has also called for the Scottish Government to set dates to publish Mr Hamilton’s findings and a review of the government’s harassment complaint procedure by Laura Dunlop QC.
Chief Whip Miles Briggs MSP claimed the SNP “tried to shut down scrutiny and sweep scandals under the carpet too often throughout the Alex Salmond affair.”
He added: “It is of prime importance that the public receives full transparency on the conduct of the First Minister before they go to the ballot in May.”
In response, Ms Sturgeon said: “It is undeniably the case the Government made mistakes here, which I, we, are determined to learn from.
“I want everything about this to be open and transparent because I do want to learn lessons.”
A spokesperson for the First Minister said she denied all allegations of breaching the Ministerial Code.
Keith Brown MSP, Depute Leader of the SNP, added: “Douglas Ross’s speech is typical hypocrisy from the Tories.
“A party which has form for dodging transparency, and was recently found to have acted unlawfully by handing out billions in contracts to friends and Tory donors, is in no position to talk about sleaze.”
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