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By Jason Michael
We will leave off the comment here and publish a full blog post article on the evidence given by Mr Salmond for Monday. This has been a very long day.
16:29 Inquiry suspended for a brief recess. Mr Salmond has retired to his committee room due to the visible effects of a chest infection. He has just been asked about the Peter Murrell WhatsApp messages re pressuring the police and keeping Salmond fighting fires on many fronts. The former First Minister said – with considerable emphasis – that he is eager to answer ‘that question.’
15:59 What is emerging in this deposition is that there are reasonable grounds to believe there was a criminal conspiracy working at the highest levels of the Scottish government against Mr Salmond. In every relevant question and response we have seen the government’s obfuscation and unwillingness to disclose vital facts and documents – even to its own legal council – ahead of a trial that may have resulted in the imprisonment of a former First Minister. From start to end it is evident that this was motivated by ‘political reasons.’
15:48 The Scottish government was so concerned with concealing the evidence that it kept disclosure even from its own council. The government’s council then determined, on discovering this concealment, that the case was ‘unstateable.’
15:00 Just before the break Murdo Fraser asked the question: If the Crown Prosecution Service in England had asked a committee of the Westminster parliament to redact certain of its report, what would be the response? Mr Salmond, having experience in the Commons, answered that that would not happen in the London parliament. There is a clear separation of the powers between the legislature and the judiciary, but uniquely in Scotland that has not applied in the Scottish government’s treatment of this inquiry.
14:16 Jackie Bailie has put a laser sharp focus on the remit itself. Now we are talking about the criminal nature of the leak of the government report to the unionist Daily Record newspaper. Mr Salmond points out that this was a politically motivated leak and that the police noted that the First Minister was one of the interested parties who had access to the report.
13:51 Any mention of the remit of the inquiry – the breaches of the Ministerial Code – is conspicuous now only by its absence. It is clear from almost every question from the members that this session is about putting Alex Salmond back on trial. The convener has repeatedly reminded MSPs to stick to the purpose of the inquiry, but this has been roundly ignored.
13:18 Rt. Hon. Alex Salmond maintains that the government process did not follow best practice. There was no consultation with the trade unions, those tasked with addressing the issues were ‘hardly experts,’ and it was not dealt with at first informally, according to the Fairness at Work policy.
13:06 At the informal stage, says Mr Salmond, there had been no complaints and nothing as far as he knew had been reported to Nicola Sturgeon the First Minister. The formal mediation process was not conducted according the the established norms agreed upon by the trade unions.
12:46 The former First Minister has concluded his opening statement. He has stated in the strongest terms that evidence has been deliberately suppressed by the Scottish government with the complicity of the Crown Office. He has said that a great deal of time and money has been squandered in the efforts of the leadership of the government to hide this evidence. Scotland, has not failed, he says – it’s leadership has.
12:35 Alex Salmond has opened by stating that this inquiry is not about him, but about the action of others. He has pointed again at the illegality of the Scottish government’s actions and the complicity of the Crown Office. He says that he does not have a case to prove – that case have been proved in two court cases.
12:20 AT LONG LAST, after having his innocence upheld in the Scottish courts, Alex Salmond, the former leader of the Scottish National Party and First Minister of Scotland, gets his day in parliament. Here at the Random Public Journal we will be following the events in Holyrood live and reporting things as they happen. This promises to be an exciting day in Scottish politics, and – as some commenters have suggested – what is revealed today might just be the game changer we have been looking for. So, let’s buckle up!