Scottish Government independence announcement 'unacceptable', says Scottish Parliament presiding officer

Scotland’s Presiding Officer has said it was “unacceptable” for a Scottish Government independence announcement to be made to the media before Parliament.

Alison Johnstone said the “significant news” should have been announced in the Scottish Parliament Chamber “as a matter of courtesy and respect”.

The Presiding Officer cancelled a statement by constitution secretary Angus Robertson on the ‘benefits of independence’ and moved straight to questions as a result.

Presiding Officer Alison Johnstone has said the independence announcement published in the media before being addressed in Scottish Parliament was 'unacceptable' (Picture: Jane Barlow/PA).

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Long-established Good Practice Guidance on Announcements by the Scottish Government states announcements by Government on matters of importance should not enter the public domain before or without being communicated to the Parliament.

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Ms Johnsone said: “The Government is in no doubt that I do not regard this as acceptable and in these circumstances the Parliament’s time is used best by moving straight to questions.

"Where the subject matter relates to matters on which members of the public would have a clear interest, there’s a strong expectation that the ministerial statement would be scheduled with appropriate notice and where that ministerial statement has been programmed, the details of that statement should not be released to the media before the statement is made.

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“Now, it is not possible to square the Government’s actions on this matter, with respect for this guidance which is designed to ensure that this Parliament is given its proper place.

“It is my role to represent this Parliament’s interests and, in doing so, I take account of all members’ interests equally.”

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