ALEX Salmond accused the Scottish Government of an “obstruction of justice” for failing to hand over key information to prosecutors.
The former First Minister said a document detailing prior contact civil service boss Leslie Evans had with the two complainants during the government’s internal probe was not given to prosecutors despite a search warrant being issued.
He said: “It’s not a duty of candour, that’s refusing to produce information in the face of a search warrant – it’s obstruction of justice and there are consequences for such things.”
Labour committee member Jackie Baillie asked Mr Salmond if he believed Ms Evans – the Scottish Government’s Permanent Secretary – had “discharged her responsibilities in line with the civil service code”.
He replied: “No.”
Ms Baillie said that the investigating officer in the government’s probe into Mr Salmond was interviewed by junior counsel on October 17, 2018, during which she was “open about her contact with the complainants”.
Legal counsel then gave a written opinion on October 31, before a meeting was held between counsel, Nicola Sturgeon, Ms Evans and the First Minister’s chief of staff on November 13.
The government didn’t concede defeat in the judicial review until January the following year.
Mr Baillie said: “As a former First Minister, would carrying on legal action in the Court of Session knowing that you had acted unlawfully be a breach of the ministerial code?”
Mr Salmond said: “Yes.”
Ms Baillie then asked: “Do you believe this was the case in this instance?
The ex-Nats chief said: “Well we cannot be sure because I – like you – haven’t seen the external legal advice of October 2018.
“Clearly it was, as I think was said to you in evidence, a highly significant moment when it was realised by counsel that there had been prior contact [between the investigating officer and the complainants].
“Everything about it suggests, even how it’s been described in terms, is on the balance of probability, that the advice showed or indicated that the government were about to lose.
“If that is the case and if that legal advice says that and the case was continued in the knowledge of the First Minister against that legal advice then that would be a breach of the ministerial code.
“If we could just see the document then we’d all be better informed.”
Ms Baillie said: “Well indeed this parliament has asked twice, we’ve still not seen it, so good luck with that one.”