Salmond facing prosecution if restricted documents released

The Scottish Government will go to court to see if it can release more documents to a Holyrood inquiry.

Salmond facing prosecution if restricted documents released Getty Images
Salmond: Warned over restricted documents.

Alex Salmond has been warned by the Crown Office that he faces prosecution if he discloses restricted evidence.

Meanwhile, the Scottish Government will go to court to see if it can release more documents to a Holyrood inquiry.

Letters to the Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints about the former first minister reveal further legal wrangling over the release of evidence.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney confirmed the Scottish Government has agreed with Salmond’s lawyers to release a 120-page court record of the two sides’ pleadings.

The document, from Salmond’s successful judicial challenge of the botched handling of complaints, will be accompanied by a chronology of the judicial review.

Swinney revealed the Scottish Government “intends to initiate legal proceedings to seek a ruling” about whether documents relating to the case can be released.

In January 2019, the Scottish Government promised the Court of Session it would not release certain documentation but the legal proceedings seek an adjudication on what ministers were bound by and the materials that were covered.

He wrote: “Once such a ruling is available more material may become available to be shared with the Committee at that point.”

Meanwhile, lawyers for Salmond said the Crown Office has written to the former first minister reminding him “in the strongest terms” that it would be a “criminal offence” to release certain restricted material.

Salmond’s lawyer David McKie said it could have “significant implications” for the committee inquiry.

He wrote: “Pertinent material exists which was secured in the process of the trial via warrant served on the Scottish Government by the Crown.

“Our client cannot realistically therefore provide a statement or documents which are partial and piecemeal.

“Any meaningful statement necessarily will involve reference to a large amount of the material which he is not permitted to release.”

Referencing Salmond’s offer to go to court to seek the release of certain documents – if the committee covers the legal costs – the letter adds: “Our client remains committed to assisting the committee where he lawfully can.

“His position remains of supporting maximum disclosure within the constraints of the existing court orders and undertakings.”

The committee is investigating the investigation into sexual harassment complaints against Mr Salmond, which the Court of Session ruled was

“unlawful” and tainted by apparent “bias” because the investigator had prior contact with two of the accusers.

The court ordered the Scottish Government to pay Mr Salmond approximately £512,000 of public money for his legal expenses.