Alex Salmond says public have right to read Scottish Government legal advice
Alex Salmond calls on government to publish legal advice on judicial review.
ALEX Salmond has called on the Scottish Government to publish the legal advice behind their decision to fight his judicial review.
His call came after the Holyrood committee investigating the botched probe into allegations of sexual harassment, published the open record of the court case, detailing the pleadings of each side.
The former First Minister’s lawyers said the document made clear “the numerous illegalities and obvious unfairness in the Government’s policy.”
Salmond had the results of the harrasment investigation set aside in January last year, with a judge saying it was unlawful and had been “tainted by apparent bias” because Judith Mackinnon, the lead investigating officer had been in prior contact with the two complainers.
The cost to the taxpayer was substantial, with Salmond awarded costs of £512000, and the Scottish Government spending another £180000 on lawyers.
In a statement, the ex-SNP leader’s lawyer, David McKie from Levy & McRae, said he’d been instructed by his client to supply “extensive documentation from the court proceedings including correspondence between this firm and the Scottish Government.
McKie added: “He has agreed to that private legal advice being published, despite being under no legal obligation to do so.
“In return, Mr Salmond calls on the Scottish Government to publish the legal advice given to the Scottish Government on the prospects of successfully defending the judicial review.
“As the Committee has already made clear, the Scottish Government can choose to do so. There is nothing preventing that publication.
“Moreover, there is a clear and overwhelming public interest in the public having the opportunity to read and understand the advice which is said to have justified the Scottish Government spending sums significantly in excess of £500,000 of taxpayers’ money in defending this action.”
The lawyer said Salmond was also calling on the Scottish Government to produce “all the relevant material from the judicial review which has thus far been held back from the committee.”
Mckie added: “‘The correspondence produced by Mr Salmond shows that, from April 2018, we repeatedly told the Scottish Government that they were treating our client unfairly and were acting unlawfully. Our client offered first mediation and then arbitration in an attempt to prevent the Government acting unlawfully.
“His arguments were repeatedly dismissed and his offers were refused. The result of that intransigence was that our client was left with no option but to raise a court action.”
Earlier this week, the Committee wrote to Salmond with a “firm request” to be provided with a written submission from the ex-SNP leader at the “earliest opportunity”.
Linda Fabiani, who chairs the Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints, asked for as much detail as possible.
McKie said that for Salmond to make “substantive and meaningful submissions to the Committee, he requires to be able to make reference to a number of documents revealed to him and to which he alluded to after being acquitted of all charges in the High Court.”
However, the Crown Office has warned that doing so could risk breaking the law.
Salmond has now directly appealed to the Lord Advocate, ”to allow him to place the relevant evidence before the Committee.”
The open record appears to show that the Scottish Government knew some two months before conceding the case that appointing Judith Mackinnon as Investigating Officer had risked the case.