Alex Salmond says he cannot appear before inquiry next week

Alex Salmond has said he is unable to meet the deadline to appear before MSPs probing the Scottish Government’s botched handling of harassment complaints against him.

The Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints Committee asked Mr Salmond to appear before it to give evidence next week.

However, in a letter from his lawyers, the former first minister said that he was unable to appear before the committee before the week beginning February 8, the same week when Nicola Sturgeon is expected to give evidence.

His representative David McKie wrote in a letter to the committee: “Our client is available to give evidence to the committee on any day, at any time in the week beginning 8th February, including on the 8th itself if you wish to hear his evidence before that of the First Minister.

Coronavirus – Wed Jan 13, 2021
Coronavirus – Wed Jan 13, 2021

“If necessary he is prepared to consider giving evidence in an alternative format although he (and the committee) would prefer an in-person session.”

Mr McKie added: “Please note that our client is a private citizen. He is working full time while assisting the Inquiry.

“Despite reasonable requests, he has been refused any assistance with legal costs but has been expected to provide extensive assistance to your inquiry, which could not and cannot be done without legal advice.

“That advice has proven necessary particularly in light of the risks of prosecution he continues to face if he provides you with all the relevant information you have requested, a situation which he considers unacceptable in the context of a public inquiry which is specifically designed to establish the truth.”

The committee has responded to say it will consider the letter in private on Wednesday to reach a decision.

It had previously stated that if Mr Salmond could not appear before the committee in the first week of February, it might have to take further written evidence from him, instead of hearing from him in person.