24 February 2021 | UK NEWS

The former First Minister of Scotland decided last night not to give evidence against the Scottish Government today.

Mr Salmond had complaints submitted against him following allegations of sexual harassment. He was accused of this by two female civil servants in 2018. An inquiry by the Scottish Parliament into Alex Salmond’s alleged actions subsequently followed.

This ended with the Scottish Parliament having to pay Mr Salmond’s legal fees, after the Scottish Government admitted it had acted unlawfully by appointing an investigating officer with prior involvement in the case.

There is currently an investigation into how the Scottish Parliament allowed this to occur.

The committee investigating the case will hold a meeting “to discuss the implications of Mr Salmond’s response and the next steps for its work”.

Mr Salmond had been due to submit evidence that would assist the investigation into the handling of this case. He withdrew this offer yesterday, the day before he had been expected to give evidence, due to alterations to his submission.

The submission had been due to include claims that a “complete breakdown of the necessary barriers which should exist between government, political party and the prosecution authorities” had occurred.

He also was to claim 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”.

This is widely assumed to include the current First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon and her husband Peter Murrell, the Chief Executive of the SNP, as well as Ms Sturgeon’s chief of staff, Liz Lloyd.

The Crown Office said it had “grave concerns” about the publication of Mr Salmond’s submission. It accordingly removed the submission from its website and republished a redacted version yesterday.

It has been rumoured in both Westminster and Holyrood that this was due to pressure from the First Minister, which – if proven – would place her in a very difficult position and could prompt a resignation.

Nicola Sturgeon has denied Mr Salmond’s claims, saying there was “not a shred of evidence” to back them up.

Mr Salmond refused to give evidence because, in his words, he could not “tell the whole truth” without the full submission. He has, however, offered to give testimony in front of MSPs on Friday.

Jonathan is a political reporter and commentator. His interests include philosophy and sociology.

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