Crown Office hands over documents to Salmond inquiry

The Crown Office has handed over evidence to the Holyrood inquiry into the Alex Salmond affair, after unprecedented demands from parliamentarians.

Prosecutors have confirmed they have given “material” from the former first minister’s criminal trial to MSPs.

Committee members were also asked to consider whether it is in the public interest to release it.

A Crown Office spokesman said: “Material has been provided to the Committee and the convener has been respectfully asked to give careful consideration as to whether or not it is appropriate and in the public interest to publish material Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) has provided.

“The Lord Advocate and Solicitor General for Scotland have not had any decision-making role in the investigation and prosecution of Alex Salmond and any subsequent related matters.”

The Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints Committee was set up after the Court of Session in Edinburgh ruled the Scottish Government’s handling of complaints against the former first minister to be “unlawful”, resulting in a £512,250 payout to Mr Salmond.

Mr Salmond was also cleared in March of several sexual offence allegations made against him.

MSPs on the Committee took the unprecedented step of issuing a notice to the Crown Office under part of the Scotland Act, demanding a number of documents.

The notice, formally issued by Holyrood chief executive David McGill, says the COPFS “may hold documents relevant and necessary for the committee to fulfil its remit”.

The committee was seeking the release of documents detailing text or WhatsApp communications between SNP chief operating officer Susan Ruddick and Scottish Government ministers, civil servants or special advisers from between August 2018 and January 2019, that may be relevant to the inquiry.

It also asked for any documents linked to the leaking of complaints to the Daily Record newspaper in August 2018.

A Scottish Parliament spokeswoman said: “The Committee received a response from the Crown Office this evening.

“This response will be considered by the Committee when it next meets.”