Great Britain

Alex Salmond believes ‘conspiracy’ was aimed at stopping his political comeback, claims ally

Alex Salmond believes there was a “conspiracy” by Nicola Sturgeon’s circle to stop his political comeback, one of the former first minister’s allies has claimed.

SNP MSP Alex Neil said Mr Salmond suspects senior party figures feared he would try to win a seat through a by-election after losing his Westminster seat in 2017.

The Salmond loyalist also claimed that if the ex-SNP leader’s claims of conspiracy were proven, then “everybody involved” would have to resign.

“He believes that there was a conspiracy to get him,” Mr Neil told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. “He believes a number of people have been involved in conspiring against him and stitching him up.

“Alex believes that after he lost his Westminster seat there was a possibility of a by-election in Scotland in his neck of the woods. He believes some people were frightened of him coming back in … he thinks it may have all started from there.”

Asked if Mr Salmond thought Ms Sturgeon was involved in efforts to bring him down, along with other senior figures working with her in the SNP, the MSP said: “Basically I think he does, yes, absolutely.”

On Wednesday Ms Sturgeon insisted it is “downright wrong” to blame political influence for the censorship of written evidence submitted by her predecessor to a Scottish parliament inquiry.

She dismissed any suggestion of political interference in the Crown Office’s decision to ask for redactions in the evidence as a “dangerous conspiracy theory”.

She also repeated her assertion that there is not “a shred of evidence” to support Mr Salmond’s claims of a plot to remove him from public life.

Calling on the Crown Office and committee to allow Mr Salmond to make his claims in full, Mr Neil said: “If it was proven that there was a conspiracy, everybody involved in the conspiracy would be getting their jotters [getting sacked].”

Mr Salmond pulled out of a scheduled appearance before the inquiry on Wednesday after parliamentary authorities removed passages from his written submission.

However, the former first minister is now reportedly ready to accept an invitation to appear on Friday, with Ms Sturgeon completing the inquiry’s evidence sessions next Wednesday.

Ruth Davidson, Scottish Tory leader at Holyrood, called the ongoing saga over evidence “the biggest crisis in our institution since devolution began” in a video message on Thursday morning.

Some SNPs have also been critical of the Crown Office’s intervention and the Scottish parliamentary authorities’ decision to redact parts of the evidence.

Mr Salmond’s ally Joanna Cherry tweeted: “All democracies governed by the rule of law should have proper separation of powers.” Fellow SNP MP Angus MacNeil said the decision to redact evidence “looks crooked”.

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