error code: 1003
07 May 2021

Parliament bill for legal advice in Salmond committee probe topped £40,000

07 May 2021

The Scottish Parliament spent more than £40,000 on legal advice as MSPs probed the Scottish Government’s handling of sexual harassment allegations made against former first minister Alex Salmond

New papers released by Holyrood showed that the bill for external legal advice came to £41,633.

That was advice to both the Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Sexual Harassment Complaints, and the Scottish Parliament Corporate Body.

Harassment allegation committee hearing

As part of its investigation, MSPs on the committee took evidence from the two female civil servants who made the complaints, as well questioning both Mr Salmond and his successor First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in lengthy evidence sessions.

A majority of MSPs on the committee later concluded that Ms Sturgeon had misled them, claiming there was a “fundamental contradiction” in her evidence on whether she agreed to intervene to help Mr Salmond in the investigation.

But an independent report by James Hamilton cleared Ms Sturgeon of breaching the ministerial code over her role in the saga.

As well as the money spent on external legal advice, the committee also spent £253.15 on witnesses expenses over the course of its inquiry.

The cross-party inquiry was set up after a successful judicial review by Mr Salmond resulted in the Scottish Government’s investigation into the allegations against him being ruled unlawful and “tainted by apparent bias” in 2019.

He was awarded a maximum payout of £512,250 after the Scottish Government conceded the case a week before it was due to be heard in court because of prior contact between investigating officer Judith Mackinnon and two of the women who made complaints.

The committee found the Scottish Government’s handling of the complaints was “seriously flawed” and the women who made the allegations were “badly let down”.

The best videos delivered daily

Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox