Scotland First Minister and the SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has been accused of treating the official inquiry into the Alex Salmond affair “with contempt” after the chairwoman of the inquiry claimed that the SNP and Scottish Government “obstruction” had succeeded in stopping its investigation.
In a damming indictment of a statement, the convenor of the cross-party Holyrood committee examining the botched civil service probe into sexual harassment allegations said MSPs are “completely frustrated” at a refusal to provide key documents and testimony which meant they were unable to get to the truth.
Linda Fabiani said she was awaiting further evidence from Peter Murrell, the SNP’s chief executive and Nicola Sturgeon’s husband, who is yet to respond to a series of questions from the committee.
Ms Fabiani said the investigation “simply cannot proceed at this stage”, with requests for information from Scottish Government civil servants and Mr Salmond himself also outstanding. MSPs have now abandoned plans to call new witnesses to give evidence next week.
Ms Fabiani said: “The committee continues to be completely frustrated with the lack of evidence and, quite frankly, obstruction it is experiencing.
“We had hoped to be in a position to hear further oral evidence, but with responses still outstanding from the Scottish Government, Chief Executive of the SNP and the former First Minister, all of this means that we simply cannot proceed at this stage.”
Jackie Baillie, a Labour committee member, said the SNP government “and others are treating the committee as a laughing-stock”.
Murdo Fraser, a Tory member, said SNP had treated the inquiry “with contempt” and predicted its report “will be a whitewash”, he accused the First Minister of misleading parliament after she promised in January last year that the inquiry “will be able to request whatever material they want, and I undertake today that we will provide whatever material they request.”
One Holyrood insider told the Telegraph: “The investigation has basically run dry, because the committee can’t see people until MSPs have time to digest written evidence.”
The Scottish Government strongly rejected the accusation that it was obstructing the inquiry, a spokesman said: “As a further example of our commitment to provide all possible material to the committee, we intend to initiate legal proceedings seeking to allow the release of further documents.”
An SNP spokesman said: “Mr Murrell provided written evidence by the original August 4 deadline.
“The committee’s additional requests of September 9 set no deadline for a response. However, we are in active dialogue with the clerks about the further information sought.”
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