Alex Salmond will not appear in front of Harassment Complaints Committee tomorrow

The former first minister Alex Salmond will not appear in front of the Scottish Parliament’s harassment complaints committee in the latest twist in the inquiry saga.

Alex Salmond will not appear in front of the Scottish Parliament's Harassment Complaints Committee

Concerns over the non-publication of Mr Salmond’s evidence on the potential breach of the ministerial code by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is understood to be the main reason behind the non-attendance.

Reacting, a Scottish Parliament spokesperson said: “Mr Salmond has not confirmed that he will attend the committee meeting on Tuesday and he has raised a number of issues for clarification. Tuesday’s evidence session will therefore not go ahead.

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“Mr Salmond had been contacted to make it clear that he can speak freely in committee about all of his contact with Nicola Sturgeon and his views on her actions.

“He was given the opportunity to make a lengthy opening statement on Tuesday and would have had four hours to answer questions in public. He was also invited to send more written evidence for publication after the meeting.

“The committee has already published two lengthy submissions from Mr Salmond and many, many pages of records and documents from him that he has been invited to speak freely about in Parliament on Tuesday. All of this written and oral evidence could then be reflected in the committee’s report.

“The committee continues to communicate with Mr Salmond’s representatives.”

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A letter from Mr Salmond’s lawyer, David McKie, to the committee states the decision not to publish his written submission in full would “plainly undermine the capacity of the committee to fulfil the remit set by Parliament”.

"Our client cannot accept a position where his evidence submitted in good faith to your committee (and in greater part still publicly available) is not to be published and therefore form part of the evidence leading to conclusions in your report,” the letter states.

"Asking a witness to accept the constraints of speaking only to evidence selected by you on the undisclosed advice and direction of unidentified others is not acceptable in any forum and is, in our client’s view, particularly offensive when the remit he seeks to address has been set for you by Parliament and addresses the unlawful actions of an elected government.”

Mr Salmond demands clarity about “all restrictions” which will be placed on him during his evidence session and what the legal basis is for this.

"No body taking evidence can seriously expect a witness in the position of our client to do so blind to the full range of prohibitions, restrictions and penalties of even an inadvertent breach,” Mr McKie’s letter adds.

There will be “limited or possibly no evidence” allowed in relation to two specific meetings in late March and April 2018, Mr McKie claims, which form the basis of Mr Salmond’s claim that Ms Sturgeon misled Parliament about when she first heard of the allegations against him. Ms Sturgeon denies the accusation.

The letter adds: “Our client remains willing to give evidence to the committee at any point up to the final date for evidence (currently fixed for 16th February). However, he cannot take his oath to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth unless and until you properly address in writing the legitimate concerns set out in this and our numerous previous letters.”

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