Originally published in the Scotsman
I don’t know about Denmark, but something has been rotting in the State of Scotland, a concern not dispelled by the Crown Office seeming to capitulate to the parliamentary committee of inquiry’s demand for evidential material. That it should ask the committee not to make the evidence public, as though the public was not entitled to know, makes one wonder if it has learnt anything.
That “ask” reveals that those in charge of that Office have not abandoned their role as the Pretorian Guard of the Scottish Government/SNP officialdom, a role exercised against the public interest in seeking to frustrate a legitimate parliamentary inquiry in doing its duty to lay bare the truth of a disgraceful episode. There are two questions to be answered: do they now admit error in threatening Alex Salmond with prosecution if he dared reveal the evidence, and is all the material being delivered? The committee should not take its word for the latter.
I hope the Lord Advocate and his senior officials will now reflect upon their recent conduct, and will now desist in the vengeful prosecution of supporters of Alex Salmond, having failed to nail him on thirteen charges. Mark Hirst, a journalist, faced eight months of anxiety before coming to trial, only to see the Judge decide swiftly that he had “no case to answer.” Craig Murray is now involved in a trial. Is there now a habit of malicious prosecution embedded in our criminal justice system?
There is much for we citizens to be concerned about: a civil service politicised and compromised after ingesting doses of amnesia and obfuscation; a First Minister who declared the inquiry would be given whatever it asked for, but who quickly shunted that responsibility to the Lord Advocate, who seemed anxious to shield her when the opposite applied.
We have seen the chief executive of the governing party, spouse of the First Minister, as is now public knowledge, seeking to have Alex Salmond prosecuted in England, not in pursuit of justice, but as a tactic to weaken his position in the Scottish system by making him “fight on two fronts.” In sixty years in public life, I cannot recall any such egregious action by any party official anywhere in the UK.
In his winding up speech on behalf of Salmond, Gordon Jackson QC, hobbled by a pre-trial order prohibiting use of evidence now to be revealed (?) could only hint to the jury, when he said something “stinks.” The joint actions of the Scottish Government and the Crown Office have gone beyond “stinks.” The stench of political corruption now hangs over this nation. To make the air clean again, beyond the parliamentary one, whose forensic limitations were exposed by Alastair Bonnington and Brian Wilson, we need a judicial inquiry equipped with all the powers to command evidence from all sources.
This letter was published BEFORE it became known the the Inquiry had refused to admit any written evidence from Alex at all. I can just imagine the content of Jim’s next letter. Jim and Alex had an up and down relationship over the years but Jim is completely appalled at the actions of the SNP and Scottish Government in this matter, dragging the reputation of the SNP and the Scottish Government into the gutter and betraying the legacy of honesty, fairness and justice that was the life’s work of so many past heroes of the Independence Movement. It is a huge and unforgivable betrayal.
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