Alex Salmond’s legal team say the former first minister is concerned that his appearance at a Holyrood committee would leave him “in jeopardy of criminal prosecution”.
The response comes after the Scottish Government expressed disappointment in his refusal to appear in person before Holyrood’s inquiry into the botched investigation of sexual harassment claims against him.
The former first minister was invited to give evidence next Tuesday, but his lawyer rejected the request, citing public health concerns and the Scottish Government’s refusal to publish its legal advice.
Mr Salmond offered to appear in person on February 16, stating that the original date offered was unsuitable.
David McKie, of Levy & McRae who are representing Mr Salmond, also raised concerns over Mr Salmond’s ability to “tell ‘the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth’ under threat of a charge of perjury”, with Mr McKie saying: “How do you propose he does so when that inevitably involves reference to material in the criminal proceedings and when doing so leaves him open to prosecution?
“You are aware that there are multiple documents of fundamental importance to your inquiry which were part of disclosure in the criminal trial.
“We have pointed this out for months now in numerous letters.
“We wish these to be available to the committee but have now been warned on a number of occasions by the Crown Office that supplying these to you, or even identifying them for you to recover, would constitute an offence.”
In the letter, Mr McKie also raised concerns over the current Covid-19 restrictions in Holyrood, saying: “You publicised your invitation for next week in the full knowledge of the contrary advice from the Presiding Officer to suspend in-person Committee meetings.”
Under advice, all committee meetings will be held virtually for the foreseeable future.
Mr McKie added: “He is perfectly willing to travel to your committee meeting as long as it can be completed safely and can be properly regarded as being for work or an essential purpose in conformity with the regulations.
“This is not a question of personal preference, it is about following the Parliament’s own advice on in-person meetings.”
A Scottish Parliament spokeswoman said: “While there is rightly a strong presumption against committees meeting in person, the Presiding Officer understands that there may be a small number of circumstances where essential committee business cannot be effectively undertaken by any means other than meeting in person.
“As the Convener made clear to Mr Salmond’s solicitor, the Committee would be happy to work with Mr Salmond to find a way to allow him to give evidence in a safe and secure way.
“The Committee will meet in private next Tuesday to consider its work programme including Mr Salmond’s latest response.
“However, the Committee is clear that all evidence to it must comply with the relevant legal obligations.”
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