Alex Salmond’s legal team planned to call Nicola Sturgeon as a defence witness in his trial but she asked to be excused because she was leading the response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Salmond’s legal team had asked his successor as First Minister to be a potential witness and give evidence at the trial at the High Court in Edinburgh.
However, it is understood that during the last week of the trial her lawyers asked if she could be excused as a witness because she was working on tackling the coronavirus pandemic, and offered to give a deposition. It is also understood that Mr Salmond’s legal team agreed she should not be called.
A legal source said: “A list of defence witnesses includes everyone who might, depending on how things go, be called. In a major trial, there are dozens of names put down in order that you can, if it’s decided, call them.
“The course of a trial is unpredictable and you are never sure what witnesses are going to say, so a belt-and-braces list of witnesses is put down to cover any possibility.
“For example, there was evidence relating to meetings at the First Minister’s office. If someone, however unlikely it may seem, had denied any such meeting took place, then she may have been called to confirm the meeting did take place. But no one did deny it, so it never happened.”
The First Minister’s office said Ms Sturgeon would have attended if she been called by the court.