Sturgeon has received no legal advice over Salmond inquiry, government claims

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has not received any legal advice from within the Scottish Government or from external advisers in relation to her appearance in front of the Alex Salmond inquiry next week.

The Scottish Government has claimed Nicola Sturgeon has not received any legal advice in relation to the ongoing Salmond Inquiry.
The Scottish Government has claimed Nicola Sturgeon has not received any legal advice in relation to the ongoing Salmond Inquiry.

The claim, from Scottish Government officials, comes following a Freedom of Information request on the cost of any legal advice linked to the committee and provided to Nicola Sturgeon.

Final details of Ms Sturgeon’s evidence session are still to be finalised, but it is expected to take place next week.

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The committee is at a crunch point in its investigation into the affair, with several members expressing their disappointment that Mr Salmond’s submission on the ministerial code aspect of the inquiry would not be published following a vote on Tuesday.

The committee is examining the botched handling of harassment complaints against the former first minister by the Scottish Government, which led to a £500,000 legal bill after the government conceded a judicial review challenge on the grounds of the process being “tainted by apparent bias”.

Mr Salmond was also acquitted of sexual offence charges in a trial last year.

In the response to the Freedom of Information request, Scottish Government officials claim that no information is held on the cost of legal advice to the First Minister because none has been provided.

It was revealed in January that more than £50,000 had been spent by the Scottish Government on helping civil servants prepare for their appearances before the Holyrood probe.

Officials state: “The reason for this is that the Scottish Government has not provided external legal advice or legal advisory services to Scottish ministers who have or are set to attend in the near future, an evidence session at the Scottish Parliament's Committee on the Scottish Government's Handling of Harassment Complaints.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said in a fresh statement: “The First Minister has nether sought nor received legal advice, either internal nor external, in relation to her appearance before the committee and does not anticipate doing so.”

Mr Salmond is understood to be considering holding a press conference if he is unable to give evidence to the inquiry in person.

On Tuesday, committee convener Linda Fabiani wrote to the former first minister making it clear the committee could not meet the conditions he had set for his appearance.

Any press conference is likely to be held next week.

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