Salmond insists hundreds of business people back independence


Alex Salmond insisted hundreds of business people backed independence, as he was challenged to name chief executives of companies who backed the Yes campaign, during first minister's questions on 6 February 2014.

Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont repeatedly asked how many chief executives of companies comparable to oil giant BP, who backed independence, the first minister could name.

But the first minister did not name any individual or firm - instead saying the organisation Business for Scotland included "hundreds" of business people who backed independence.

Ms Lamont challenged her SNP rival on the issue after Bob Dudley, the chief executive of energy firm BP, had claimed there were "quite big uncertainties" over currency, European links and tax regimes if Scotland were to vote Yes.

However, Mr Dudley emphasised the firm was continuing to invest in Scotland.

Ms Lamont also said the chief executives of Sainsbury's, Tesco and Morrisons supermarkets had voiced doubts about independence, while the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS) had said questions about pensions in an independent Scotland remained unanswered.

She demanded: "At what point does the first minister acknowledge that the chief executive of BP, that our supermarkets, that ICAS, maybe know what they are talking about and accept that leaving the UK would be bad for the people of Scotland?"

Mr Salmond responded by highlighting a report in the Financial Times that the UK Government was using the "dark arts", saying a senior defence executive was claiming "the UK Government is putting pressure on companies to speak out against independence".

The first minister also said Mr Dudley's "most important" comments were to confirm the continuation of BP's investment plans.

Mr Salmond said: "BP recognise that just as over the last 40 years it has been extremely business sensible and lucrative for them to invest in the North Sea, so that will be the case over the next 40 years.

"So I think what we should do in these matters is look at the investment decisions.

"We should look at the substantial investment decisions being made in Scotland, that's what indicates the confidence in Scotland's future and that's what Johann Lamont should recognise."

The controversial proposal to abolish corroboration was brought up by both the Scottish Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, after the Justice Committee suggested the measure be ditched from the Criminal Justice Bill.

Meanwhile, the government said former high court judge Lord Bonomy would lead an inquiry looking at the safeguards needed if corroboration was abolished.

Ruth Davidson, the Scottish Conservative leader called for the proposal on corroboration to be left out from the bill saying it "was better to make good law later, than bad law now".

Mr Salmond argued that the general rule of corroboration meant that hundreds of victims did not get access to justice, particularly in sexual and domestic violence cases.

Ms Davidson said victims were best served by secure and sound convictions.

The first minister replied that Lord Bonomoy's inquiry would provide the safeguards against miscarriages of justice, and would have to be agreed by the Justice Committee and the parliament.

The inquiry was like "fitting new locks to the stable a year after the horse has bolted", according to the Scottish Liberal Democrats leader Willie Rennie, who said the proposal was a "complete shambles".

The first minister repeated that the review by Lord Bonomoy would provide the necessary safeguards, adding that the parliament should find a way to ensure thousands of people could get access to justice.

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