Tories plan John Swinney confidence vote over Salmond saga

Tories plan John Swinney confidence vote over Salmond saga

The Conservatives say they will push for a vote of no confidence in the deputy first minister this week over his handling of the Alex Salmond saga.

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross said he would also push for a similar vote against Nicola Sturgeon unless more details about the case were released.

The Scottish government published legal advice related to its court battle with Mr Salmond this week.

John Swinney had previously argued such advice should remain confidential.

But the deputy first minister said it had taken the “exceptional step” to rebut “false allegations” made about the legal advice to the Scottish government over the judicial review brought by Mr Salmond.

The move came after all opposition parties indicated they would back a motion of no confidence in Mr Swinney last week if he did not comply, with the SNP government facing defeat.

But Mr Ross said that threat had only resulted in a “partial” release of “vital evidence”.

The Conservatives said they planned to hold a vote of no confidence in Mr Swinney on Tuesday or Wednesday, with a similar vote in Ms Sturgeon “shortly afterwards”.

Speaking on BBC Scotland’s Sunday Show, Mr Ross said the Holyrood inquiry still needed to fill in the gaps in what happened at key meetings about the case involving the Scottish government.

“The [no confidence] vote is not off the table because after an eight-hour evidence session – where the first minister said she’d answered all the questions which clearly she hadn’t – the Scottish government issued more evidence that we’d been calling for.

“Why was that evidence not made available before the first minister came in front of the committee?”

Mr Ross said there was still a “blank” to fill regarding a meeting between the first minister and her permanent secretary on the case.

“There was no minutes taken? I don’t think anyone believes that’s the case, so we are still pushing the deputy first minister… this week on that vote of no confidence, to release all the evidence that the committee needs to get to the truth of this matter.”

The legal advice published this week shows that Scottish government lawyers had “reservations” about its court battle with the former first minister more than two months before it conceded the case.

The judicial review was examining whether the government’s handling of harassment complaints against Mr Salmond was legal.

The review found against the Scottish government, resulting in them having to pay Mr Salmond’s legal fees of more than £500,000.

Mr Swinney said the publication of the advice should “enhance” public confidence that such advice was not “ignored” by the Scottish government.

“I have instructed officials to consider whether further documents should be released, subject to essential statutory checks and notifications, and to do so as a matter of urgency,” he said.

Leave a Reply