Alex Salmond inquiry committee that was ‘set up to fail’ must have all the evidence – Brian Wilson

In the case of Alex Salmond vs the Scottish government and ongoing inquiries, I recommend the article by Alistair Bonnington for the Scottish Legal Review.

An MSPs' committee is looking into the Scottish government's handling of complaints about Alex Salmond (Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire)

Because the Holyrood committee has no legal support in investigating this murky affair, he suggests, it was set up to fail. This is a job for lawyers, no matter how hard MSPs try.

Mr Bonnington is an extremely experienced media lawyer including for BBC Scotland. Nobody in Scotland is better qualified to know where lines are crossed into perjury, contempt or libel. On all these, he is scathing.

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Regarding senior civil servants’ evidence under oath, only for the committee to “subsequently discover that it is nonsensical and so recall the witness”, he observes: “In Glasgow Sheriff Court, these witnesses would have been locked up for prevarication at least.”

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On the Scottish government’s justification for continuing to withhold advice from counsel, Mr Bonnington describes it as “utter nonsense” and suggests they must think the Scottish public “exceptionally dense” if they believe it.

As for continuing attempts to block evidence which Mr Salmond was unable to introduce at his trial, Mr Bonnington observes: “The criminal trial is completed and cannot be re-opened. What possible crime can be committed by a legitimately constituted parliamentary committee seeing these documents which, on any view… must be pertinent to its work?”

Evidence pointing to a deeply sinister set of events within St Andrew’s House continues to drift into the public domain. Natural justice demands all of it is heard and subjected to scrutiny by the Holyrood committee, without limit of time.

Otherwise a process “set up to fail” will indeed have failed miserably, contemptuously and disgracefully.

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