FM accused of having ‘something to hide’ over Salmond advice

Ruth Davidson claims the Scottish Government is showing contempt for the parliament.

FM accused of having ‘something to hide’ over Salmond advice Getty Images

Ruth Davidson has accused Nicola Sturgeon of “having something to hide” over the Salmond inquiry.

At First Minister’s Questions, the Tories’ Holyrood leader claimed the Scottish Government’s failure to divulge legal advice given during the judicial review against Alex Salmond shows contempt for the Scottish Parliament.

The former first minister was awarded more than £500,000 in legal expenses after the handling of complaints against him was deemed unlawful.

MSPs voted in favour of a motion on Wednesday to release the advice, the second time in the last month such a vote has passed in the Scottish Parliament.

In January, Sturgeon assured MSPs the committee set up to investigate the handling of allegations made against Mr Salmond would receive all the information it required.

Davidson said: “The blunt fact is this – the only reason that she is breaking her promise is because she has something to hide.”

In an attempt to uncover what the legal advice contained, the Tory MSP told the chamber what she believed lawyers advised, asking the First Minister to correct her if she was wrong.

“The advice received by the Scottish Government’s senior counsel warned that the Scottish Government’s handling of the sexual harassment allegations was deeply flawed and that the judicial review would find in favour of Alex Salmond, as it duly went on to do.

“And this advice was proffered to the Scottish Government long before they finally collapsed their own case, running up hundreds of thousands of pounds of bills in the process and utterly failing the women who came forward.”

The First Minister refused to address Davidson’s assertions about the legal advice, saying it would breach the ministerial code.

She said a process is under way, led by Deputy First Minister John Swinney, to consider if the advice should be revealed, which needs to be approved by law officers.

Sturgeon said: “The ministerial code sets out a process that ministers have to go through should legal advice be divulged and, just to remind the chamber and others watching, the starting point in the ministerial code is that ministers must not divulge the contests of legal advice unless certain tests are fulfilled and we are going through a process right now of consideration of those tests.

“That is the right and proper way to do this.

“Once that process has concluded the Deputy First Minister will update Parliament about the outcome of it.”

The First Minister claimed MSPs would attack her and her ministers for breaching the ministerial code should they release the advice without the proper process being undertaken.

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