Politics

Alex Salmond to accuse government of ‘pantomime of deception and secrecy’ in series of bombshell claims

Alex Salmond will accuse the Scottish Government of “pantomime of deception and secrecy” when he gives explosive evidence to MSPs on Wednesday.

The former first minister is expected to appear before a Holyrood inquiry probing an unlawful investigation into sexual harassment allegations made against him.

The Government’s conduct was judged “procedurally unfair” and “tainted by apparent bias” by the Court of Session in January 2019, and ministers were forced to pay more than half a million pounds to the former SNP leader in legal expenses.

The Sunday Mail has learned Salmond will now make a series of bombshell claims that the Government concealed key documents not only from his legal team but from its own external lawyers, Christine O’Neil QC and Roddy Dunlop QC, during his judicial review.



Roddy Dunlop QC

It has emerged the QCs threatened to walk off the case unless the Scottish Government conceded the judicial review – which it finally did the following month.

A source close to Salmond said: “Alex will be ­pulling no punches when he describes the full extent of the ­Government’s debacle in court.

“They were playing games at the public expense and ran up a bill of more than £600,000 in legal fees.

“They have now repeated the same pantomime of deception and secrecy in front of the Parliamentary Committee.

“Their lawyers were blameless, indeed the only people paid at public expense who emerge with any credit.

“It was only when they ­threatened in unprecedented fashion to walk off the case that the Permanent Secretary Leslie Evans and her crew came to their senses and conceded the judicial review to Alex.

“The Government’s behaviour is often described as ‘botched’. In fact, it was much worse – it was judged
‘unlawful’, ‘procedurally unfair’ and ‘tainted by apparent bias’ – and very costly for the public.”

Salmond has finally agreed to appear before the Holyrood inquiry next week to level a series of allegations that First Minister Nicola Sturgeon broke the Ministerial Code on multiple occasions.

His evidence session has been in jeopardy during weeks of legal wrangling over a written submission he made to the inquiry.

Sturgeon will face allegations she lied to Parliament about what she knew and when, failed to properly record meetings with Salmond and continued fighting a judicial review in the knowledge it would fail.

Salmond will detail how the Government’s own legal team were forced to apologise on multiple occasions as “hidden” documents emerged before a special commission in December 2018.

The inquiry was kick-started after Salmond was acquitted of sex charges at the High Court last year.

He believes there was a plot to end his career orchestrated by senior figures close to the First Minister.

Sturgeon is expected to give evidence to the committee in the unprecedented battle with her former political mentor.

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