Scotland’s Deputy First Minister will face a motion of no confidence if ministers continue to refuse to publish vital legal advice they obtained in their battle with Alex Salmond.
So far, John Swinney and the Scottish Government have failed to hand over the advice given to them over their botched probe into harassment complaints against the former First Minister.
But yesterday, MSPs issued a fresh demand for the documents, which will reveal when ministers were first warned they would lose the legal challenge he launched against them.
Mr Swinney, the minister responsible for dealing with the issue, previously told the Holyrood committee he was keen to find a ‘practical way’ for the advice to be handed over. However, this has yet to happen.
Yesterday, the Scottish Conservatives disclosed that they will seek to bring a motion of no confidence against Mr Swinney this week if it is not released.
Scotland’s Deputy First Minister John Swinney will face a motion of no confidence if ministers continue to refuse to publish vital legal advice they obtained in their battle with Alex Salmond
Support for Scottish independence plummets to less than half of all Scots and 39% of voters believe Sturgeon’s government covered up ‘conspiracy’ to jail Salmond for sex assault
Support for Scottish independence has plummeted amid the bitter row between SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon and her predecessor as First Minister Alex Salmond.
The majority of people in Scotland no longer want to break away from the rest of the United Kingdom following recent infighting, a bombshell survey has revealed.
The Survation poll, carried out for the Sunday Mail , concluded that support for independence has fallen from 58 per cent in the same poll carried out in October to just a 50 per cent split.
It is the first time in 22 consecutive polls that a Yes vote has not been favoured.
The row has broken out amid the ongoing Holyrood inquiry into the Scottish Government’s ‘botched’ investigation of sexual harassment claims against Mr Salmond.
Leader Douglas Ross said: ‘We are giving the Scottish Government one last chance to be transparent and respect the will of the Scottish parliament.
‘Twice, opposition parties united to call for the legal advice to be released. The cross-party Holyrood committee have pleaded with the Government to produce it.
‘The Government said they would listen but they clearly have not. The legal advice remains hidden.
‘This evidence is crucial to uncovering the specific mistakes that lost more than £500,000 of taxpayers’ money and let the women at the heart of this investigation down.’
The ultimatum came after Mr Salmond warned that, if the case was pursued with Nicola Sturgeon’s knowledge against advice, this would be a breach of the ministerial code.
Ministers have been accused of attempting to obstruct the Holyrood inquiry into the affair, which left taxpayers with a bill of more than £500,000 paid out to Mr Salmond to cover his legal fees.
The Scottish parliament has twice voted to compel the release of the advice ministers and officials obtained during the judicial review brought about by the former SNP leader.
However, they have so far refused to do so, citing legal privilege. In January 2019, the Government was forced to admit it had acted unlawfully and its investigation had been ‘tainted by apparent bias’ after Mr Salmond successfully challenged its investigation into complaints against him.
The outcome of the probe was set aside when it emerged that the investigating officer had prior contact with two women who made allegations against Mr Salmond.
It was previously revealed that the issue had been identified months before the Government conceded.
But the inquiry is keen to know when ministers and officials were advised to drop their defence – and admit defeat.
The latest motion will go before the Scottish parliament’s bureau, which meets tomorrow.
Mr Ross said his party would ‘gladly withdraw this motion’ if the legal advice is released by the Government.
The ultimatum came after Mr Salmond warned that, if the case was pursued with Nicola Sturgeon’s knowledge against advice, this would be a breach of the ministerial code
The Liberal Democrats have already pledged to support the Tory move.
MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton said Mr Swinney was currently standing ‘in contempt of parliament’ and warned that his refusal to hand over the advice ‘impedes’ the Holyrood inquiry. The Scottish Labour Party and Scottish Greens have yet to say whether they will support the motion, but they have not ruled it out.
As a minority government, the SNP would be defeated if the opposition voted in favour of the Conservatives’ motion.
Appearing at the Holyrood inquiry on Friday, Mr Salmond claimed that, if the legal advice to the Government was that it was likely to lose the judicial review and ‘the case was continued in the knowledge of the First Minister against that legal advice, that would be a breach of the ministerial code’.
If found to have breached the code, Miss Sturgeon would be expected to resign. However, she has denied any wrongdoing.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: ‘The Government has provided the committee with detailed evidence on its legal position at all the key points of the judicial review.
‘If there is a need to further information, the Scottish Government stands ready to discuss that with the committee.’