Deputy first minister John Swinney has been threatened with a vote of no confidence over his refusal to publish the Scottish Government’s legal advice in relation to Alex Salmond’s judicial review.
On two occasions, MSPs have voted to compel the Scottish Government to produce legal advice taken as part of the legal challenge brought by Mr Salmond over its harassment complaints procedure, but ministers have so far not handed the advice over.
In a letter to Linda Fabiani, the convener of the committee looking into the handling of complaints against Mr Salmond, in December, Mr Swinney said he was keen to find a “practical way” that the advice could be handed over to the committee, but no such arrangement has been put in place.
The Scottish Tories, with the backing of other opposition parties, have threatened to lodge a motion of no confidence unless the advice is published.
Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross said the move was to give the Scottish Government “one last chance”.
He said: “Twice, opposition parties united to call for the legal advice to be released. The cross-party Holyrood committee have pleaded with the Government to produce it.
“The Government said they would listen but they clearly have not. The legal advice remains hidden.
“This evidence is crucial to uncovering the specific mistakes that lost more than £500,000 of taxpayers’ money and let the women at the heart of this investigation down.
“We urge other opposition parties to support this move. It is not about politics, it’s about getting to the truth of what happened. Without the evidence, that will not happen.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie added: “There is a simple way for John Swinney to avoid another no confidence vote and that is to release the legal advice as parliament has twice made very clear it expects him to do.
“The Scottish Government have gone out of their way to obstruct the investigation into their handling of some very serious allegations.
“This displays contempt for our parliament and a casual disregard for all those who have raised concerns or are considering whether to do so in the future.”
If the motion goes to a vote, it would be the second time in less than a year that Mr Swinney would face such a debate on his position.
In August the deputy first minister, who also holds the education portfolio, came under heavy criticism from opposition parties over a scandal that developed around the qualifications process put in place as a result of Covid-19.