Deal allows MSPs to view Scottish Government legal advice on Alex Salmond case

Neil Pooran, PA Scotland Political Reporter
·2-min read

A committee of MSPs will be able to see a previously undisclosed document relating to the Scottish Government’s legal battle with Alex Salmond after a deal was reached to view it.

Members of the committee examining the handling of harassment complaints against the former first minister will be able to see the unredacted legal advice in a special “reading room” set up at Holyrood next Tuesday.

The MSPs will be able to read the report, dated December 29 2018, on a confidential basis.

A redacted version of the legal advice along with an explanatory note will be published afterwards.

The agreement between the Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints and ministers comes after repeated demands from convener Linda Fabiani for the release of more evidence.

The Scottish Government has previously said legal privilege prevents it from disclosing the legal advice it received in the case.

Mr Salmond successfully challenged the Scottish Government’s handling of harassment complaints made against him in the courts, which led to him receiving a payout of more than £500,000.

Inquiry into Scottish Governments handling of Harassment
Convener Linda Fabiani said her committee has a ‘vital task’ to examine the handling of complaints (Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament/PA)

Ms Fabiani said on Friday that she has accepted the offer to view the document in the reading room, but she added the report in question only covers some of the legal advice the committee is looking for.

Those permitted to enter the room will not be allowed to remove or copy the document, though the convener has requested that they are allowed to take notes.

Ms Fabiani said: “The committee has been consistently clear on its position on legal advice. The committee believes that to fulfil the vital task that Parliament has set it, it needs to see legal advice including from counsel.

“It continues to push to see this advice in full and believes that it has to be published.

“In the meantime, the committee has agreed to accept the terms of an offer negotiated with the Scottish Government to read a report which includes some of the legal advice.

“A redacted copy of this report will be published after the committee sees the full report on December 22.”