Alex Salmond document revised over Crown Office concern

Alex Salmond document revised over Crown Office concern

The Scottish Parliament has published a revised version of submissions from Alex Salmond after the Crown Office raised “grave concerns” about it.

Mr Salmond’s papers named people he alleges were part of a “malicious” attempt to remove him from public life.

The parliament later removed one of the documents and republished it in another form.

It came after MSPs on the parliament’s corporate body met to discuss a letter that was sent by the Crown Office.

Mr Salmond’s submission included claims from the former first minister that there had been a “complete breakdown of the necessary barriers which should exist between government, political party and the prosecution authorities”.

The documents had been published ahead of Mr Salmond’s scheduled appearance before the inquiry that is investigating the Scottish government’s botched handling of harassment complaints against him.

The former first minister’s lawyers said the parliament’s decision to withdraw and then republish a revised version of his submission was a “significant surprise and concern” and could have “a material bearing on whether he is able to attend” the evidence session on Wednesday.

They added: “As matters stand, we have advised him that the apparent intervention from the Crown suggests that there has to be a material risk to him in speaking to his submission. He cannot be placed in legal jeopardy.”

The inquiry has been examining what went wrong with the government’s internal investigation into harassment complaints against Mr Salmond that were made by two female civil servants.

The government had to pay legal expenses of more than £500,000 to Mr Salmond after it admitted it had acted unlawfully during the investigation.

Mr Salmond was later cleared of 13 charges of sexual assault against a total of nine women after a High Court trial last year.

In his written submission to the inquiry, Mr Salmond claimed that there was “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.”

The people named by Mr Salmond include Nicola Sturgeon’s husband Peter Murrell, who is the chief executive of the SNP, and Ms Sturgeon’s chief of staff, Liz Lloyd.

Mr Salmond has also accused Ms Sturgeon, who succeeded him as first minister and party leader, of misleading parliament and breaching the ministerial code.

The code states that ministers who knowingly mislead parliament would be expected to resign.

Ms Sturgeon, who is expected to give evidence to the inquiry next week, has denied the allegations and told BBC Scotland that there was “not a shred of evidence” to back up claims of a conspiracy against Mr Salmond.

Alex Salmond’s submissions to the Holyrood inquiry lay out his version of events.

They were paving the way for him to appear in front of the committee and give evidence in person – something Mr Salmond had said he would not do that unless his evidence was published.

He wants his side of the story put on the record and is concerned because unless the statements are published the committee cannot refer to them in their findings.

The committee is publishing a revised version. But will enough of what Mr Salmond wants to say be in that version to allow him to give evidence tomorrow?

Mr Salmond also claims in his written submission that the Crown Office – Scotland’s prosecution service – is “not fit for purpose” under its current leadership.

And he said there had been a “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.”

He added: “The real cost to the Scottish people runs into many millions of pounds and yet no-one in this entire process has uttered the simple words which are necessary on occasions to renew and refresh democratic institutions – ‘I Resign’.

“The committee now has the opportunity to address that position.”

MSPs on the inquiry committee previously voted against publishing Mr Salmond’s submission, before the parliament’s corporate body later concluded that “on balance” it would be possible for the document to be published.

Responding to the publication of the documents on Monday night, a Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) spokesman said it took seriously its responsibility to uphold the law and to protect the dignity and rights of “all those who come into contact with COPFS”.

He added that Scotland’s prosecutors had acted “independently and in the public interest at all times” in relation to the case.

An additional written submission to the inquiry by Ms Lloyd said she rejected the conspiracy allegation in “its entirety” and was not “substantiated by any evidence and is founded on a number of claims, that are false”.

An SNP spokesman said: “This is just more assertion without a shred of credible evidence.

“Several of the women have already made clear how utterly absurd it is to suggest they were part of a conspiracy to bring him down. And yet Alex Salmond is still making these ridiculous and baseless claims and lashing out at all and sundry.”

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