Alex Salmond to accuse Sturgeon government of ‘pantomime of deception’ in SNP civil war

Peter Murrell gives opening statement at Alex Salmond inquiry

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Mr Salmond is to give evidence to MSPs on Wednesday in a Holyrood inquiry into an unlawful investigation over sexual harassment claims which were made against him. The former First Minister was acquitted of all charges at the High Court last year and has now claimed he was treated unfairly by the Scottish Government. Ms Sturgeon will also appear before the inquiry amid accusations she broke the ministerial code and misled Parliament over a meeting with her predecessor.

According to The Sunday Mail, Mr Salmond will now claim the Government concealed key documents from his legal team during the judicial review.

He will also state Holyrood even withheld documents from their own lawyers, Christine O’Neil QC and Roddy Dunlop QC.

A source close to the former First Minister 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’.

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“In fact, it was much worse – it was judged ‘unlawful’, ‘procedurally unfair’ and ‘tainted by apparent bias’ – and very costly for the public.”

The Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body announced last week key documents concerning the judicial review will be published.

It is in these documents which Mr Salmond claims his successor broke the ministerial code.

Ms Sturgeon will appear before the committee next week before it takes the remaining evidence and compiles its report.

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Overall, it will examine the complaints handling process, the judicial review brought by Mr Salmond and the allegations levelled at Ms Sturgeon.

The allegations concerning Ms Sturgeon are centred on a meeting the pair had at her house on April 2, 2018 and allegations of harassment made by two female civil servants against Mr Salmond. 

The First Minister claimed Mr Salmond had informed her of the complaints at the meeting in her house.

However, Mr Salmond insisted the current First Minister was informed of the complaints before then.

Ms Sturgeon has denied breaking the ministerial code.

If ministers are found to have breached the code, they are obliged to offer their resignation.

The inquiry comes as the SNP gears up for the Holyrood elections in May.

If the party performs strongly, Ms Sturgeon has claimed she will then press ahead with demanding a second independence referendum. 

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