Alex Salmond inquiry: Key evidence from former chief of staff withdrawn

Key evidence submitted to the Salmond Inquiry will no longer be considered or see the light of day after it was withdrawn due to legal concerns.

Alex Salmond’s former chief of staff, Geoff Aberdein, had submitted evidence to the harassment complaints inquiry but due to “legal obligations” will never be made public.

His evidence is understood to have covered the details of critical meetings between himself and Nicola Sturgeon on March 29, 2018, and the meeting he brokered between the First Minister and Mr Salmond in the First Minister’s home on April 2, 2018.

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The evidence would have shed some light on allegations that Ms Sturgeon misled the Scottish Parliament around these meetings after she claimed she had ‘forgotten’ that the first meeting had taken place.

Nicola Sturgeon's involvement around harassment complaints against Alex Salmond is under scrutiny

The Holyrood inquiry is examining the botched handling of harassment complaints against Mr Salmond which led to a £500,000 legal bill after the Scottish Government conceded a judicial review action brought by the former first minister on the basis of “apparent bias”.

However, the committee updated its website on Wednesday to state that several submissions would not be published, including Mr Aberdein’s.

The website reads: “The Parliament can only publish submissions where publication is compliant with the legal obligations on the Scottish Parliament Corporate Body, which may be different than legal obligations on individual submitters.

"As a result of this process, the Parliament has decided that a number of these submissions should not be published, including the submission from Geoff Aberdein. A number of other submissions have been redacted.”

Alex Cole-Hamilton, the Liberal Democrat member of the committee, said the inquiry had been akin to “nailing jelly to the wall”.

He said: “Much of the work of this committee has been like nailing jelly to a wall. We have seen avenues closed to us at every turn and legal barriers to where the evidence takes us.

"This is bad for the government too because without a proper exorcism of those doubts that exist, significant questions will go unanswered.”

Mr Salmond has been given a ‘take it or leave it’ offer to give evidence to the committee on February 2, with Ms Sturgeon currently expected to give evidence on February 9.

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