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Salmond inquiry: Row erupts over decision to publish submission

Ruth Davidson.
Ruth Davidson.

A row has erupted over an SNP MSP’s claims that a decision to publish Alex Salmond’s evidence could jeopardise the anonymity of complainers.

Nationalist MSP George Adam issued a strongly-worded statement in response to a controversial decision by the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body (SPCB) to publish Mr Salmond’s written testimony on the ministerial code.

The Holyrood committee investigating the Scottish Government’s botched handling of harassment allegations against the former first minister previously voted twice against disclosing the documents, amid concerns about court orders protecting the anonymity of the complainers in Mr Salmond’s High Court trial.

Mr Adam said: “People across Scotland will be utterly bewildered that the corporate body of the national parliament has ignored clear legal advice and decided to publish information which it knows could jeopardise the court-ordered anonymity of complainants in a sexual offences case.

“The message it is in danger of sending is that women should not dare seek to hold powerful men to account if they believe they have been mistreated.

“We have to ask the question of the corporate body members – if it had been their wife, their mother, their daughter or their sister at the centre of this, would they have made the same decision?”

The SPCB‘s decision is expected to lead to the evidence being published early next week, ahead of a committee appearance by Mr Salmond on Wednesday.

Salmond evidence row
Alex Salmond leaves the High Court in Edinburgh after he was cleared of all charges.

‘Clear overreaction’

Scottish Conservative Holyrood leader Ruth Davidson said the response from the SNP was “bizarre”.

She added: “Their clear overreaction only confirms in people’s minds that they must have something to hide.

“Nobody is suggesting for a second that information would ever be published jeopardising a complainant’s anonymity.

“That would be totally unacceptable and that’s why it’s so concerning that a complainant’s name was leaked to Alex Salmond’s team, yet nobody in government has been sacked for doing so.

“As the ruling party, it is the SNP’s own government who so badly let down women who came forward. It is therefore galling to hear them falsely accuse others of doing the same.”

She added: “We must uncover what happened here for the complainants who were so badly let down.”

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