ALEX Salmond has said that the Scottish Government will not be publishing legal advice it receives on an independent Scotland’s membership of the European Union.
• First Minister revealed in TV interview that EU legal advice would not be released
• Salmond says not releasing document covered by ministerial code
Mounting a defence of his Government’s refusal to say whether it sought earlier legal advice even though it hadn’t, Mr Salmond rejected claims he misled the public.
Mr Salmond revealed that he would not be publishing the advice in an interview on STV’s Scotland Tonight programme.
The First Minister took to the television screen after he was branded “a bare-faced liar” when his deputy Nicola Sturgeon appeared to contradict his claim that ministers have consulted law officers on Scotland’s uncertain future in Europe.
Mr Salmond refused Labour’s request to come back to Parliament to clarify the matter further yesterday.
When asked if legal advice would be published when it was received, Mr Salmond said: “No. Well that (advice) will inform the White Paper on independence. That’s the purpose of having the opinion, so that we can make sure that what we say about the process of independence is correct.
“If you take the UK government, which makes all sorts of pronouncements, they’ve said quite recently that they have a legal opinion on this question. Although, how on earth they can have a legal opinion before the agreement which describes the process, goodness only knows. They haven’t published that.”
The First Minister said he was acting under the Ministerial Code by not discussing legal advice.
“I would have to clear it with the Lord Advocate if I wanted to say I had not sought legal advice. The Scottish Government decided to stick to the convention, which every previous Scottish government had decided to stick to, until that point that came with the Edinburgh Agreement which actually settled the process of how Scotland could become independent.
“You go to court so that you can uphold the ministerial code because there are very important principles that are therein.”