United Kingdom

Alex Salmond Inquiry orders key evidence from SNP officials are released in unprecedented move

Alex Salmond (pictured on Wednesday) was told if he wants to give spoken evidence it must be during the first week of February

The Holyrood probe into the handling of complaints about Alex Salmond has taken steps to compel the Crown Office to hand over key documents.

MSPs on the inquiry committee have invoked special powers which can force the release of correspondence.

It comes as Mr Salmond was told that if he wants to give spoken evidence it must be during the first week of February.

He previously refused to attend Holyrood to be questioned on February 2, citing concerns on travel during lockdown.

The notice to the Crown Office says it 'may hold documents relevant and necessary for the committee to fulfil its remit'.

The committee wants WhatsApp messages between a senior SNP official, Susan Ruddick, and Scottish ministers, special advisers or civil servants sent between August 2018 and January 2019 that may be relevant to the inquiry to be released.

It also wants to see any documents linked to the leaking of complaints to the Daily Record newspaper in August 2018.

The Holyrood (pictured) probe into the handling of complaints about Mr Salmond has taken steps to compel the Crown Office to hand over key documents

Regarding the Crown Office notice, committee convener Linda Fabiani said: 'This is a step that hasn't been taken lightly, and is a first for this parliament, but which the committee felt was needed.'

The Crown Office was given until 5pm on January 29 to respond to the notice.

Miss Fabiani also wrote to Mr Salmond telling him if he does not agree to an alternative date of February 3 for a physical appearance, or February 1 or 4 in a virtual format, the 'committee regrets it will not be able to take oral evidence from you'.

In these circumstances, she said that Mr Salmond would be 'free to submit further written evidence'.

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