Committee ‘dissatisfied’ with lack of Alex Salmond cost disclosures

A Holyrood committee has written to the Scottish Government’s top official to question why it has not been told how much a botched probe into former first minister Alex Salmond has cost the taxpayer.

Mr Salmond was charged in January this year with a total of 14 offences. Picture: SWNS

Linda Fabiani, who chairs a panel of MSPs overseeing how complaints of harassment have been handled at Holyrood, asked Permanent Secretary Leslie Evans why the committee had to rely on media reports about the legal costs “in the absence ... of any information from the Scottish Government”.

Details of the £512,000 legal costs awarded to Mr Salmond were revealed last month following his successful judicial review.

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The former SNP leader emerged victorious in the civil case in January after the Scottish Government admitted it had botched its investigation last year of two complaints of harassment against him.

In the aftermath of the judicial review, a special Holyrood committee was set up – separate to ongoing criminal proceedings involving Mr Salmond – to find out what mistakes were made.

It is due to meet again on Thursday, but MSPs have made their dissatisfaction known regarding the sharing of information by civil servants.

In a letter published yesterday, Ms Fabiani wrote: “I note the recent media reports regarding the Scottish Government payment of the expenses of the civil litigation on the judicial review taken forward earlier this year ... this is clearly an issue the committee will be discussing.

“In the absence of the committee having received any information from the Scottish Government, this will need to be based on what has been reported in the media.

“Therefore, if there is anything in the media reporting about which you have concerns, please let me know in advance of the meeting.

“It may be that the committee will wish to seek some information as a follow up and so I may be in contact with you following the meeting.”

Holyrood sources confirmed that the letter reflected the committee’s annoyance at not being kept up to date and the government’s “grudging, minimalist” approach to disclosure.

Unrelated to the Holyrood probe, Mr Salmond was charged in January this year with a total of 14 offences – two of attempted rape, nine of sexual assault, two of indecent assault and one of a breach of the peace.

He strongly denies the charges and is expected to stand trial next year.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We have received Ms Fabiani’s letter and the Permanent Secretary will be replying. The court in this case awarded expenses to Mr Salmond.

“Settlement was reached in line with established procedures.”