Handing over Salmond legal advice under ‘active consideration’ – Swinney

The Scottish Government has not “closed the door” on handing over legal advice about its unlawful investigation of Alex Salmond, the Deputy First Minister has said.

John Swinney said the issue was still under “active consideration” and the Scottish Government is working as swiftly as it can to address the issue.

The committee set up to investigate how complaints against Mr Salmond were handled has been pushing the Scottish Government to release legal advice it received during a judicial review brought by the former first minister.

Ministers conceded the case and Mr Salmond was awarded more than £500,000.

This month Holyrood has twice voted to demand the Government immediately release the legal advice it received during the judicial review about the botched investigation of claims of sexual harassment by the former first minister.

Mr Swinney told Sophy Ridge On Sunday on Sky News that it is against the ministerial code for him to release the legal advice other than in exceptional circumstances and law officers must give their consent.

However he said that no decision has yet been taken on the issue.

He told the programme: “The Government’s original position was that we do not release legal advice and no Government releases legal advice except in very exceptional circumstances.

“What I’ve said is that we will consider the fact that the Parliament has voted in that way. That consideration is ongoing at the present moment and that work is being undertaken to determine what approach we should take to responding to what Parliament has undertaken.

“So the issue is not closed, it’s very much under active consideration within the Scottish Government and I will be updating Parliament as soon as I’ve got a conclusion on the handling of that issue.”

Asked whether the advice might be published he replied: “There is a possibility that we might do that because Parliament has asked us to do that and I’m now reflecting on that particular issue.

“At no stage have I closed the door on that issue, I’ve simply set out the fact that ordinarily governments don’t publish their legal advice.”