Swinney to release legal advice in face of no confidence vote

The 'key' legal advice that underpinned the Scottish Government’s defence of the judicial review taken by Alex Salmond will be released on Tuesday.

Swinney to release legal advice in face of no confidence vote Getty Images
On Monday, the Scottish Conservatives submitted the motion proposing a vote of no confidence in John Swinney.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney has agreed to release judicial review advice after opposition parties threatened a motion of no confidence.

The “key” legal advice that underpinned the Scottish Government’s defence of the judicial review taken by Alex Salmond will be released on Tuesday.

On Monday, the Scottish Conservatives submitted the motion proposing a vote of no confidence with Labour and the Greens joining calls for the legal advice to be published.

With the backing of all three the opposition parties, the advice had to be published or the vote would likely have been successful putting the Deputy First Minister’s job on the line.

The advice relates to Salmond’s successful legal challenge of the government’s harassment complaints procedure, which led to the former first minister being awarded more than £500,000.

A spokesperson for the government said the decision by Swinney has received the prior agreement of the law officers in line with paragraph 2.40 of the Scottish Ministerial Code.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: “In normal circumstances, government legal advice is not released. Indeed, such is the importance of being able to get frank, private advice, it is almost unheard of for the legal advice to be released.

“But, we have to acknowledge that the issues at stake now are not normal. The very integrity of the legal system is being questioned.

“Serious allegations have been made. This material allows people to confirm that these allegations are false.

“We have already shared in private with the Scottish Parliament’s committee on these issues the substance of the advice.

“Now, we recognise that in order to counter to the false claims being made by some, we must go further. Subject to the mandatory legal checks and processes, we will release the key legal advice.”

A government statement said: “Ahead of release, under the General Data Protection Regulation, legal notifications to individuals impacted are required. These are expected to be complete and, subject to them, the parliament will receive the material immediately thereafter.”