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Alex Salmond pulls out of Holyrood committee hearing after evidence removed from Scottish parliament website

Written by on 24 February 2021

Alex Salmond will not now appear before a Holyrood committee on Wednesday after some of his evidence in a dispute with the devolved administration and the SNP was redacted from the parliament’s website.

Some 474 words appear to have been removed from the former first minister’s evidence, which was published on Monday evening.

Earlier, his lawyer David McKie said the redactions had caused “significant surprise and concern”.

He also said Mr Salmond is “entitled” to have his evidence published, adding: “If any aspect of it is removed, it compromises his oral evidence.”

Mr Salmond has offered to appear on Friday, pending legal discussions.

The politician has accused officials in the Scottish government and the SNP of a “malicious and concerted effort” to damage his reputation – “even to the extent of having me imprisoned”.

Alex Salmond has made a written submission against Nicola Sturgeon Image: Alex Salmond with his successor, Nicola Sturgeon

After Mr Salmond’s evidence was published, the Crown Office wrote to parliament to express concerns about it.

Its worries are said to be over the possibility that it could amount to contempt of court.

A Scottish Parliament spokesman said: “Following representations from the Crown Office on Monday evening, the Scottish Parliament Corporate Body (SPCB) agreed collectively this morning that it will remove the Alex Salmond submission on the ministerial code from its website with immediate effect and republish it later today in a redacted form.

“The SPCB will respond formally to the Crown Office shortly.”

A spokesman for the Crown Office said: “In all cases where the Crown becomes aware of issues of potential contempt, these will be considered carefully and action will be taken if considered appropriate.”

In response to Mr Salmond’s evidence on Monday evening, he said: “We take seriously our responsibility to uphold the law and to protect the dignity and rights of all those who come into contact with COPFS (Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service).

“Scotland’s prosecutors have acted independently and in the public interest at all times when considering matters related to this case.”

The Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints was set up to look into an unlawful investigation of allegations against the former leader of the SNP.

Mr Salmond had previously declined to attend after the committee voted not to publish evidence he had submitted.

However, the SPCB ultimately concluded that “on balance” it would be “possible” for the document to be published.