Alex Salmond under scrutiny over alleged breaches of ministerial code of conduct

The independent panel of advisers was set up four years ago to investigate alleged breaches of the rules governing the ministerial code of conduct by the First Minister. It has investigated Mr Salmond on five occasions, but each time the SNP leader was cleared.

The independent panel of advisers was set up four years ago to investigate alleged breaches of the rules governing the ministerial code of conduct by the First Minister. It has investigated Mr Salmond on five occasions, but each time the SNP leader was cleared.

The first panel consisted of former presiding officers Lord Steel and George Reid. They looked into complaints on three occasions over claims Mr Salmond misled MSPs. It followed Holyrood spats involving him and opposition MSPs on funding for the Scottish Interfaith Council, an absconder from the open prison estate and class sizes.

Sign up to our Politics newsletter

Sign up to our Politics newsletter

Lord Steel quit in controversial circumstances last year as a result of attacks by Mr Salmond and justice secretary Kenny MacAskill on the UK Supreme Court and its role in the Scottish Justice system.

“I was appalled by the language being used,” Lord Steel revealed weeks after quitting the body. “I told Alex that I hoped this was not the way they were going to continue now that they had an overall majority because, if so, I expected a growing number of complaints against ministers.”

The new panel, put in place last year, consists of Dame Elish Angiolini and Lord Peter Fraser. Both are former lord advocates, the most senior law officer in the Scottish justice system. It has investigated Mr Salmond twice, with Lord Fraser exonerating him of any involvement in nominating recipients for honours, while Dame Angiolini cleared him of wrongdoing when he hosted lottery winner Chris and Colin Weir – who later donated £1 million to the SNP – at Bute House.

It emerged that Mr Salmond escaped censure because the “tea and biscuits” were provided from his personal stash in his Bute House apartment, rather than official government resources.