Crown Office raises 'concerns' over Alex Salmond papers

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Scotland’s prosecution service has raised “grave concerns” over the Scottish Parliament’s decision to publish documents from Alex Salmond.

The papers name people Mr Salmond alleges were part of a “malicious” attempt to remove him from public life.

It is understood MSPs on the parliament’s corporate body are meeting to discuss a letter that was sent by the Crown Office on Monday night.

The parliament has also asked the Crown Office to clarify its concerns.

The documents were published ahead of Mr Salmond giving evidence to the inquiry that is investigating the Scottish government’s botched handling of harassment complaints against him.

They include claims from the former first minister that there has been a “complete breakdown of the necessary barriers which should exist between government, political party and the prosecution authorities”.

The inquiry has been examining what went wrong with the government’s internal investigation into the complaints.

The government had to pay legal expenses of more than £500,000 to Mr Salmond after it admitted it had acted unlawfully during the investigation.

Mr Salmond was later cleared of all 13 charges of sexual assault after a High Court trial last year.

In a written submission to the inquiry ahead of his appearance on Wednesday, Mr Salmond claimed that there was “a deliberate, prolonged, malicious and concerted effort amongst a range of individuals within the Scottish government and the SNP to damage my reputation, even to the extent of having me imprisoned.”

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They include Nicola Sturgeon’s husband Peter Murrell, who is the chief executive of the SNP, and Ms Sturgeon’s chief of staff, Liz Lloyd.

Mr Salmond has also accused Ms Sturgeon, who succeeded him as first minister and party leader, of misleading parliament and breaching the ministerial code.

The code states that ministers who knowingly mislead parliament would be expected to resign.

Ms Sturgeon, who is expected to give evidence to the inquiry next week, has denied the allegations and told BBC Scotland that there was “not a shred of evidence” to back up claims of a conspiracy against Mr Salmond.

‘Rule of law’

Mr Salmond also claims in his written submission that the Crown Office is “not fit for purpose” under its current leadership.

And he said there had been a “complete breakdown of the necessary barriers which should exist between government, political party and indeed the prosecution authorities in any country which abides by the rule of law.”

He added: “The real cost to the Scottish people runs into many millions of pounds and yet no-one in this entire process has uttered the simple words which are necessary on occasions to renew and refresh democratic institutions – ‘I Resign’.

“The committee now has the opportunity to address that position.”

MSPs on the inquiry committee previously voted against publishing Mr Salmond’s submission, before the parliament’s corporate body later concluded that “on balance” it would be possible for the document to be published.

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Responding to the publication of the documents on Monday night, a Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) spokesman said it took seriously its responsibility to uphold the law and to protect the dignity and rights of “all those who come into contact with COPFS”.

He added that Scotland’s prosecutors had acted “independently and in the public interest at all times” in relation to the case.

An additional written submission to the inquiry by Ms Lloyd said she rejected the conspiracy allegation in “its entirety” and was not “substantiated by any evidence and is founded on a number of claims, that are false”.

An SNP spokesman said: “This is just more assertion without a shred of credible evidence.

“Several of the women have already made clear how utterly absurd it is to suggest they were part of a conspiracy to bring him down. And yet Alex Salmond is still making these ridiculous and baseless claims and lashing out at all and sundry.”