Salmond given final date for inquiry appearance

Alex Salmond has been given a final date to appear before MSPs probing the Scottish Government’s botched handling of harassment complaints against him.

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.

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

Now, the committee has offered Tuesday February 9 for him to give evidence – adding that no further dates would be available.

Linda Fabiani, the convener, said in a letter: “The committee remains very concerned about the tight timescale we are working to in order to complete our work before the end of the session.

“However, given that the committee is also awaiting the response to the section 24 notice served on COPFS (Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service), we have agreed to accept your offer to attend the following week.

“The only date that we can offer is Tuesday February 9 and should that not be possible, I am afraid that no further dates can be offered.”

The 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.

A letter from his lawyers previously cited “health and safety grounds” in the midst of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic as a reason for his reluctance to appear at Holyrood on February 2.

He had been given the option of giving evidence to the committee either in person in the Parliament, or by appearing remotely, on either February 2 or February 3.