United Kingdom

Alex Salmond says his evidence would NOT have been censored at Westminster

Alex Salmond today insisted his evidence about Nicola Sturgeon would not have been censored at Westminster as he suggested the Scottish government is not fit to be independent.

In an extraordinary session before a cross-party committee, the former First Minister lashed out at his SNP successor over the handling of harassment allegations against him. 

Pointing to multiple 'failures' by Ms Sturgeon's government over the claims against him, he warned that the 'move to independence... must be accompanied by institutions whose leadership is strong and robust'. 

He criticised the way his evidence to the Holyrood inquiry had been redacted to remove key sections at the request of the Crown Office. 

Mr Salmond, who was previously an MP, said the redaction of his written evidence would not have happened at Westminster as Parliamentary Privilege would have been invoked.

He said: 'The normal response from the House of Commons, any parliament I would argue, would be to reject any such overtures and say the parliaments are there to serve the people, and the prosecution service, whether it be the Crown Office or the Crown Prosecution Service in England, is there under the same obligation.

Before: Mr Salmond's testimony made claims against Ms Sturgeon and her office which have now been redacted

After: The Scottish Parliament redacted the most damning parts of Mr Salmond's bombshell evidence against Ms Sturgeon

Alex Salmond (pictured taking the oath ahead of the committee session) said Nicola Sturgeon had cast doubt on the court process that cleared him over harassment allegations, and contradicted the idea he had to prove he had not done anything wrong

'Obviously the parliament shouldn't be interfering in the independence of the prosecution services, but neither should the prosecution service be presuming to interfere in the legitimate business of the parliament.'

And he questioned: 'What is it in the leadership of the Crown Office that is deficient that it is drawing itself in to what is properly the political arena?'

Mr Salmond said he had received a letter to say 'what I was and wasn't allowed to talk about' at the committee.

He said this stated he was not to speak to parts of his evidence which had been 'submitted in good faith to this committee' and which were readily available online.

'The idea that the only place that can't be discussed is in a parliamentary committee is the direct opposite of what should be true,' he said.

'Parliamentary committees should actually be able to discuss things that cannot be discussed elsewhere, because of the proper exercise of parliamentary privilege and the duties of members of parliament.'

Not being able to discuss some parts of his submission was an 'intolerable situation', the former first minister added, insisting this should 'not be allowed to continue'.

The former first minister had been due to attend a hearing on Wednesday, but dramatically withdrew after the Scottish Parliament redacted his written submission detailing claims of a conspiracy and that Ms Sturgeon misled Parliament about what she knew. 

Mr Salmond, who was giving evidence in the Robert Burns Room in person rather than over video link, delivered a series of brutal barbs at Ms Sturgeon in his opening comments - and continued to berate his successor throughout hours of examination by MSPs.  

Alex Salmond gave evidence to a Holyrood inquiry today amid claims Nicola Sturgeon (pictured yesterday) will have to quit if the former first minister can prove his claims

Mr Salmond appeared in the Robert Burns Room in person today rather than over video link

He dismissed Ms Sturgeon's claim he needed to prove his allegations about failures, saying the courts had already concluded the Scottish government acted illegally. 

'I note that the First Minister asserts I have to prove a case, I don't. That has already been done. There have been two court cases, two judges, one jury,' he said.

'In this inquiry it is the Scottish Government, a government which has already admitted to behaving unlawfully, who are under examination.'

He said he had 'watched in astonishment' as Ms Sturgeon cast doubt at a briefing earlier this week on the court finding him innocent. He added there had been 'calculated and deliberate suppression of key evidence' from the committee. 

He said: 'I watched in astonishment on Wednesday when the First Minister of Scotland - the First Minister of Scotland - used a Covid press conference - a Covid press conference - to effectively question the result of a jury.' 

Mr Salmond said the 'failures of leadership are many and obvious'.

But he said no-one had 'taken responsibility' for the way he was treated, adding there had been no resignations or sackings.

'The Government acted illegally but somehow nobody is to blame,' he added.

Mr Salmond said the previous two years and six months – during his investigation and criminal trial – had been a 'nightmare', but 'we can't turn that page, nor move on, until the decision-making which is undermining the system of government in Scotland is addressed'.

In a pointed swipe at Ms Sturgeon, he said: 'Few would dispute that our country is a better place for achieving our parliament.

'However, the move to independence, which I have sought all my political life, and continue to seek, must be accompanied by institutions whose leadership is strong and robust and capable of protecting each and every citizen from arbitrary authority.'

As the temperature rose again today, there were complaints that SNP members of the committee might be dragging out the session in a bid to prevent it getting to key elements.

Ms Sturgeon has complained that Mr Salmond is spreading a 'dangerous conspiracy theory' by suggesting he was being censored to protect her.

The First Minister said her former political mentor now preferred 'creating an alternative reality' in which the 'organs of the state... were all part of some wild conspiracy' against him.

She also denied having any influence over the Crown Office's decision to request that his statement be redacted as her government faces growing accusations of corruption. 

The huge row is threatening to derail Ms Sturgeon's push for another independence referendum with just two months until crucial Holyrood elections - and there are claims she will have to resign if Mr Salmond's accusations are backed up. 

Football news:

Felix Kroos on his brother's composure: You can call Tony 5 minutes before the World Cup final and chat
Sorokin about 10 matches of suspension for Kudela: An ambiguous situation, but the decision of UEFA is correct
Jan about penalty City: According to the rules, this is not a hand game. In the first match, a goal was stolen from us. Bad taste
Valverde on the attack on the Real Madrid bus: It motivates. You go out on the pitch with a killer instinct
The boots in which Messi broke Pele's record will be sold at auction. The money will go to help sick children
Mourinho on losing points: Tottenham start matches well. This is a positive that is readily forgotten
Holand wants to earn 35 million euros in a new club (Goal.Com)