Alex Salmond rejects inquiry invitation ‘due to pandemic’

The former first minister has refused to attend the committee 'on health and safety grounds' due to coronavirus.

Alex Salmond rejects inquiry invitation ‘due to pandemic’ Getty Images

Former First Minister Alex Salmond has rejected an invitation to give evidence to the inquiry into his legal fight with the Scottish Government.

Salmond refused to attend the committee on January 19 “on health and safety grounds” amid the coronavirus pandemic.

He said: “It would send a very bad message to the rest of the country.”

Salmond’s lawyers said he still wanted to present evidence to the Holyrood inquiry into the Scottish Government’s botched investigation of alleged sexual harassment

They suggested he could attend to give evidence next month, on Tuesday, February 16.

The inquiry is looking into how the Scottish Government botched its probe into sexual misconduct allegations made against Salmond in 2018.

Judge Lord Pentland concluded it was “tainted by apparent bias” because of prior contact between the government-appointed investigating officer and two of the women who came forward with complaints.

Salmond was awarded £512,250 after the Court of Session ruled it was unlawful.

His lawyer, David McKie, responded: “Our client cannot accept your invitation to attend your committee in person next week. He remains willing to attend and give evidence, however.”

Last week, Salmond accused Nicola Sturgeon of “breaching ministerial code” when she gave evidence to the inquiry into the sexual assault claims.

He said the First Minister’s evidence was “simply untrue”. Sturgeon denied misleading parliament.

A spokesman for Sturgeon said: “The First Minister entirely rejects Salmond’s claims about the ministerial code.

“We should always remember that the roots of this issue lie in complaints made by women about Alex Salmond’s behaviour whilst he was first minister, aspects of which he has conceded.

“It is not surprising therefore that he continues to try to divert focus from that by seeking to malign the reputation of the First Minister and by spinning false conspiracy theories.

“The First Minister is concentrating on fighting the pandemic, stands by what she has said, and will address these matters in full when she appears at committee in the coming weeks.”

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