Scotland politics

MSPs agree remit for Salmond inquiry group

Alex Salmond Image copyright PA
Image caption The Holyrood inquiry is entirely separate to the criminal case against Mr Salmond

MSPs have agreed the remit for a Holyrood inquiry into the Scottish government's handling of harassment complaints against Alex Salmond.

Several inquiries were set up after the government admitted its investigation of internal complaints had been flawed.

A special nine-member committee will consider the actions of officials as well as First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

The probe will focus on government process and is separate to the criminal charges brought against Mr Salmond.

He insists he is "innocent of any criminality" and said he would defend himself "to the utmost" in any court case.

The Scottish government carried out an internal investigation in 2018 after two complaints were made against Mr Salmond, dating back to when he was first minister.

However, after the former SNP leader launched a judicial review of the process, the government admitted at the Court of Session that he had been treated unfairly during the probe.

Four separate inquiries were subsequently set up, including a government review of what went wrong, an Information Commissioner's Office probe into how details of the case became public, the parliamentary inquiry, and an investigation to see whether Ms Sturgeon broke the ministerial code in her dealings with her predecessor.

Image copyright Andrew Cowan
Image caption MSPs are to hold an inquiry into how the government handled its internal investigation

It has since been confirmed that the government review and the ministerial code probe will be put on hold until after the criminal case against the former first minster has been concluded.

Mr Salmond appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on 24 January, facing two charges of attempted rape, nine of sexual assault, two of indecent assault and one of breach of the peace.

In a statement outside the court, he said he was "innocent of any criminality" and said he would "defend myself to the utmost in court".

It is likely that the parliamentary inquiry will also ultimately be delayed until after the criminal case is complete, although work is continuing to set it up.

Committee members

On Tuesday, a meeting of Holyrood's business bureau management group of MSPs settled the remit of the special inquiry group, which will be titled the "committee on the Scottish government handling of harassment complaints".

Its remit will be to "consider and report on the actions of the first minister, Scottish government officials and special advisers in dealing with complaints about Alex Salmond, former first minister, under the Scottish government's procedure", as well as "actions in relation to the Scottish ministerial code".

The MSPs chosen to sit on the committee are:

  • Alasdair Allan - SNP MSP, a former minister who was part of the Salmond and Sturgeon governments
  • Jackie Baillie - Labour MSP, a former minister and interim party leader
  • Donald Cameron - Conservative MSP, who worked as an advocate before being elected
  • Alex Cole-Hamilton - Lib Dem MSP
  • Angela Constance - SNP MSP, former minister who served in both Salmond and Sturgeon governments
  • Linda Fabiani - SNP MSP, current deputy presiding officer and former minister
  • Alison Johnstone - Green MSP
  • Margaret Mitchell - Conservative MSP, justice committee convener and former justice of the peace
  • Maureen Watt - SNP MSP, former minister who served in both Salmond and Sturgeon governments

The SNP is currently in line to chair the committee, with a Conservative deputy, although the election of a convener will be down to a vote of members.

The remit and membership of the committee is to be confirmed by a vote of all MSPs on Wednesday, although parties have unanimously backed the plans through the business bureau.

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