The Speaker
Wednesday, 29 May 2024 – 21:28

Scotland not fit to be independent says Alex Salmond at inquiry

Former Scottish first minister and de facto leader of the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum has said that Scotland is not fit to be independent.

Speaking at an inquiry into the Scottish government’s handling of sexual assault allegations against Salmond, the former first minister blasted his successor Nicola Sturgeon, saying that weak leadership in Scotland and failures in the government had both weakened the case for independence, and left Scotland unfit to be independent.

He added that he wanted independence ‘all my adult life’, but that independence must be ‘accompanied by institutions whose leadership is strong and robust and capable of protecting each and every citizen from arbitrary authority’.

He, however, rejected the notion that Scotland was in danger of being a failed state, saying that the institutions of the government were strong.

‘The competence and professionalism of the civil service matters. The independence of the Crown Office acting in the public interest matters. Acting in accordance with legal advice matters.’

‘Concealing evidence from the courts matters. The duty of candour of public authorities matters. Democratic accountability through parliament matters. Suppressing evidence from parliamentary committees matters. And yes, ministers telling the truth to parliament matters’.

The inquiry is seeking to investigate the Scottish government’s handling of the sexual assault allegations made against Mr Salmond, with the government admitting that they had acted unlawfully during its investigation into the former first minister.

The former first minister said that Nicola Sturgeon had undoubtedly breached the ministerial code in her handling of the investigation.

He had also been repeatedly prevented from giving evidence to the inquiry, having originally been slated to speak earlier in the week.

Alex Salmond had been cleared of 13 accounts of sexual assault at the High Court in 2019, with a civil case against him having failed two weeks before he was arrested over the allegations. It is believed that the first minister and SNP pressured the police and witnesses to build a criminal case against him after the civil case failed – a clear breach of law and the ministerial code.

At the inquiry, Salmond accused First Minister Nicola Sturgeon of plotting against him, and said that her husband, the Scottish National Party’s chief executive, Peter Murrell, being of also conspiring against him.

Salmond also told the inquiry he had been given a memory stick prior to his criminal trial, containing messages which involved ‘pressuring police’, ‘collusion of witnesses’ and ‘construction of evidence because police were felt to be inadequate in finding it themselves’.

He said that he was unable to provide more detail on this, however, as he was under an injunction – a legal tool which prevents someone from disclosing information about which the injunction relates.

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