Scottish Parliament to remove and redact Alex Salmond’s evidence

Tom Eden, PA Scotland

The Scottish Parliament has agreed to take down Alex Salmond’s written evidence and redact parts of it after the Crown Office raised concerns about possible contempt of court.

The former first minister’s written evidence to the Holyrood inquiry into the botched investigation of sexual harassment claims was published on Monday evening.

In the submission, Mr Salmond accused Nicola Sturgeon of misleading parliament and breaching the ministerial code while describing the Crown Office as “not fit for purpose” under its current leadership.

The Crown Office subsequently wrote to parliament to express concerns about the evidence published – purportedly over the possibility it could amount to contempt of court.

Despite being in the public domain for approximately 16 hours, Holyrood’s corporate body has now decided to take the written evidence down from its website and censor sections of the submission and republish an edited version.

A Scottish Parliament spokesman said: “Following representations from the Crown Office on Monday evening, the Scottish Parliament Corporate Body (SPCB) agreed collectively this morning that it will remove the Alex Salmond submission on the ministerial code from its website with immediate effect and republish it later today in a redacted form.

“The SPCB will respond formally to the Crown Office shortly.”

A spokesman for the Crown Office said: “In all cases where the Crown becomes aware of issues of potential contempt, these will be considered carefully and action will be taken if considered appropriate.”

In response to Mr Salmond’s evidence on Monday evening, he said: “We take seriously our responsibility to uphold the law and to protect the dignity and rights of all those who come into contact with COPFS.

“Scotland’s prosecutors have acted independently and in the public interest at all times when considering matters related to this case.”

Mr Salmond is due to appear before the Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints on Wednesday, which was set up to look into the unlawful investigation of allegations against the former leader of the SNP.

He had previously declined to attend after the committee voted to not publish evidence Mr Salmond had submitted.

However, the SPCB ultimately concluded “on balance” it would be “possible” for the document to be published, clearing the way for Mr Salmond’s anticipated appearance.

His written evidence names people he claims were involved in a “malicious and concerted” attempt to see him removed from public life, including Ms Sturgeon’s chief of staff Liz Lloyd, her husband and SNP chief executive Peter Murrell, the SNP’s compliance officer Ian McCann and its chief operating officer Sue Ruddick.

Alex Salmond court case
Alex Salmond leaves the High Court in Edinburgh after he was cleared of attempted rape and a series of sexual assaults (Jane Barlow/PA)

He said: “The inescapable conclusion is of a malicious and concerted attempt to damage my reputation and remove me from public life in Scotland.

“It is an attempt which would, in fact, have succeeded but for the protection of the court and jury system, and in particular the Court of Session and the High Court of Justiciary.

“However, underlying all of this and perhaps the most serious issue of all is the complete breakdown of the necessary barriers which should exist between Government, political party and indeed the prosecution authorities in any country which abides by the rule of law.

“I leave to others the question of what is, or is not, a conspiracy but am very clear in my position that the evidence supports a deliberate, prolonged, malicious and concerted effort amongst a range of individuals within the Scottish Government and the SNP to damage my reputation, even to the extent of having me imprisoned.”

First Minister’s Questions
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said there was no evidence to support Alex Salmond’s claims (Fraser Bremner/Daily Mail/PA)

Ms Sturgeon insisted Mr Salmond would not be able to prove there was a conspiracy against him.

She said: “What we have not seen is a shred of evidence to back these wild claims up.

“Now, in front of the Parliament, the burden of proof is on Alex Salmond.

“It is time for insinuation and assertion to be replaced with actual evidence.

“If, as I fully expect, there is no evidence, because there was no conspiracy, then people will draw their own conclusions.”

An additional written submission to the committee by Ms Lloyd said claims of a conspiracy against Mr Salmond were “demonstrably false” and added: “I reject the allegation in its entirety and note that it is not substantiated by any evidence and is founded on a number of claims that are false.”

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