Salmond inquiry evidence to be published by Holyrood
Showdown: Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon will appear as witnesses
Scotland’s biggest political showdown looks set to go ahead after a committee of MSPs agreed that Alex Salmond’s controversial submission to the inquiry into harassment claims against him can be published.
The submission accuses the former First Minister’s successor, Nicola Sturgeon, of misleading parliament, which she denies.
The inquiry committee had previously cited legal concerns for refusing to allow publication of Mr Salmond’s submission and he had said he would not appear at the inquiry unless it was published.
The Scottish Parliament’s corporate body ruled on Thursday afternoon that “on balance it is possible” that it will allow publication and Mr Salmond could give evidence to MSPs next Wednesday, with Ms Sturgeon appearing the following week,.
Ms Sturgeon has said previously that she is “relishing” the prospect of stating her case and rebutting “conspiracy theories” about her.
The Holyrood inquiry was set up to investigate what went wrong with the government’s internal investigation of harassment complaints against Mr Salmond, after he successfully took them to court.
The main point of contention is when and where Ms Sturgeon first learned that complaints against Mr Salmond had been made by two female civil servants.
She claims he told her at a meeting at her house on 2 April 2018. Mr Salmond says that, in doing so, she misled parliament because she knew about it before this date.
Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser said that allowing the submission was “the right decision”.
Labour’s Jackie Baillie added: “This decision is most welcome and should pave the way for Mr Salmond appearing before the committee next week.
“From the very outset of this process I have been clear that I believe the Committee has the right to consider any evidence that may be relevant to its work, and I am glad that the Scottish Parliament’s Corporate Body has agreed.
“This committee is dutybound to get to the bottom of this sorry affair that frittered away over £500,000 of public money.”
However, SNP MSP George Adam saying that people across Scotland would be “utterly bewildered” that the corporate body had “ignored clear legal advice”.
Ms Sturgeon’s spokesman said the publication of the submission “changes nothing” for the first minister, because “she has always expected to be questioned on its contents”.
He added: “The only frustration is that she has still not had the chance to rebut the claims and conspiracy stories that have been levelled at her – and has lost count of how many times she has agreed to appear before the committee, only for the date to be postponed.”