Cost to Scottish Government of Alex Salmond legal challenge revealed

The Scottish Government spent more than £118,500 on legal fees defending itself against Alex Salmond at the Court of Session, it has emerged.

In January, the government admitted acting unlawfully while investigating sexual harassment allegations against the former first minister, which he denies.

The details published today do not include Mr Salmond’s legal fees which the government was ordered to pay and have yet to be received.

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The government said the costs would be met from budgets managed by the Director General for Organisational Development and Operations.

Alex Salmond succesfully challenged the Scottish Government in Court. Picture: Getty Images
Alex Salmond succesfully challenged the Scottish Government in Court. Picture: Getty Images

The government lost the case at the Court of Session when it admitted breaching its own guidelines by appointing an investigating officer who had “prior involvement” in the case.

A spokesman for Alex Salmond said:

“Mr Salmond was awarded the expenses of the Judicial Review in the Court of Session by Lord Pentland after the Scottish Government conceded that their actions and process was ‘unlawful’, ‘procedurally unfair and tainted by apparent bias’. This followed many attempts by Mr Salmond to resolve the case by offering to deal with the case in a conciliatory manner through mediation and legal arbitration.

“The Permanent Secretary chose to ignore these attempts to settle matters amicably only to end in conceding the case immediately before the start of the full hearing at the Court of Session in January.

“The costs published today by the Scottish Government are partial in that they have dealt only with external legal advice and don’t appear to have included the thousands of hours of time committed by legal and other officials in the Scottish Government. Nor have they included the costs of the Court of Session hearings, which involved a lengthy and complex Commission and Diligence process which they are now required to meet. In other words the FOI only deals with one part of one side of the full costs which will run to many times this estimate.

“In turn Mr Salmond’s legal costs are currently being assessed and negotiated by his lawyers and if agreement cannot be reached with the government, they will ultimately be determined by the independent Court Auditor. In due course, the full monetary costs of the Scottish Government’s decision making will be clear for all to see and no doubt it will be of great interest to the Parliamentary inquires why the Scottish public should end up with the bill for the unlawful behaviour of the Government.

“These various inquiries may wish to ask why the Scottish Government refused to resolve this case before Court action became necessary and why they continued to defend the action until the case reached the very steps of the Court of Session itself.”