Alex Salmond has suggested he could give his eagerly awaited evidence to the Holyrood harassment inquiry next Wednesday after months of delays.
The former First Minister’s lawyer claimed a court judgement meant there is no “legal impediment” to publishing his Inquiry submission, which has held up his appearance.
A special Holyrood committee is examining the SNP Government’s mishandling of sexual misconduct complaints against Nicola Sturgeon’s predecessor as FM.
Salmond pursued the government in court in 2018 and it was agreed the internal probe had been unlawful.
He was separately acquitted of sexual offences after a trial last year.
His allies believe he was the victim of plot by Government and SNP figures and the fiasco ended the friendship between Sturgeon and Salmond.
However, the Inquiry has been in chaos over Holyrood’s refusal to publish Salmond’s evidence.
In his submission, described by the Tories as “bombshell”, Salmond accused Sturgeon of misleading parliament and breaching the ministerial code of conduct in relation to meetings between the pair during the probe.
Holyrood lawyers advised against publishing the Salmond submission – even though it was widely reported in the media – over legal concerns.
The evidence of Geoff Aberdein, who was Salmond’s chief of staff, has also not been published.
Salmond has made clear he will not appear in front of MSPs until the decision on his submission is reversed.
However, the Spectator magazine went to court recently in a bid to have a court order from Salmond’s criminal trial adjusted.
The order protects the identities of the complainers in the criminal case.
Judge Lady Dorrian agreed to vary her order, but it is unclear whether Holyrood will change its mind and publish the submissions.
In a letter to the Committee, Salmond’s legal team sounded upbeat about his client giving oral evidence.
A lawyer wrote that, following a review of Lady Dorrian’s judgement, Salmond had submitted a revised version of the original submission, as well as a new document to the Inquiry.
Part of the original submission, the lawyer wrote, had been “recast”, adding: “Given the terms of the judgement and the matters debated at the court hearing last week, we now can see no impediment to publication.”
The letter continued: “Our client would like to discuss practical arrangements for his attendance at the committee next week on the assumption that his submission will now be published. He has cleared Wednesday from his diary and we can discuss timings with the clerks.”
The Inquiry, comprised of MSPs, meets this evening to discuss Lady Dorrian’s judgement.
Despite the optimism in the Salmond letter, time is running out for the committee, as parliament breaks up next month.
If Salmond gave evidence next week, Sturgeon is likely to face MSPs on March 2.