Salmond inquiry seeks ‘relevant’ material from Lord Advocate

Lord Advocate James Wolffe QC
Lord Advocate James Wolffe QC
12:26pm, Thu 05 Nov 2020
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Scotland’s top prosecutor has been asked to release any “relevant” material the Crown Office has to MSPs investigating the Scottish Government’s handling of harassment complaints against Alex Salmond

Linda Fabiani, the convener of the committee conducting the inquiry at Holyrood, has written to Lord Advocate James Wolffe QC.

The Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints was set up after the former first minister won a legal challenge and £512,250 payout at the Court of Session over the way claims against him were dealt with.

Alex Salmond Legal Action

In her letter to Mr Wolffe, the convener stressed MSPs are not seeking information on the Crown’s decision to prosecute Mr Salmond for a series of sexual offences, of which he was cleared by a jury following a trial earlier this year.

Ms Fabiani also made clear the committee is not considering “the ‘merits’ of the allegations or the conduct of the trial”.

Instead, she told the prosecutor: “The committee is seeking material that the Crown may hold which falls within the committee’s remit – specifically any information, for example, communications between officials, related to the conduct of the judicial review and the Scottish Government’s decision to concede – as well as information concerning the handling of the harassment complaints considered under the Scottish Government procedure as opposed to the merits of any such complaints.”

Harassment allegation committee hearing

The approach comes after Scottish Government director for communications for ministerial support and facilities Barbara Allison told MSPs she had obtained a copy of text messages sent between herself and Permanent Secretary Leslie Evans from the Crown Office as she no longer had them.

She said the exchange had “been retrieved from her mobile phone in the context of the proceedings in HMA v Alexander Salmond”.

After Mr Salmond’s successful legal challenge, Ms Evans sent a text message to Ms Allison saying the “battle maybe lost but not the war”.

Ms Fabiani has now told the Lord Advocate the committee wants to obtain “relevant information and evidence” that the Crown may have that could help with its investigation.

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