The Scottish parliamentary authorities have taken down Alex Salmond’s written evidence to a Holyrood inquiry and will redact parts of it after the Crown Office raised concerns.
Mr Salmond’s submission to the committee examining the Scottish government’s botched handling of harassment claims was published on Monday evening, ahead of the former SNP leader’s appearance at the inquiry this Wednesday.
In the evidence, Mr Salmond alleged Nicola Sturgeon had misled parliament and breached the ministerial code. He also criticised the Crown Office – the body responsible for prosecuting crimes in Scotland.
The Crown Office subsequently wrote to parliament to express concerns about the evidence published – purportedly over the possibility it could amount to contempt of court.
Despite being in the public domain for approximately 16 hours, Holyrood’s corporate body has now decided to pull the evidence from its website and censor sections before republishing an edited version.
A Scottish Parliament spokesperson said: “Following representations from the Crown Office on Monday evening, the Scottish Parliament Corporate Body agreed collectively this morning that it will remove the Alex Salmond submission on the ministerial code from its website with immediate effect and republish it later today in a redacted form.”
A Crown Office spokesman said: “In all cases where the Crown becomes aware of issues of potential contempt, these will be considered carefully and action will be taken if considered appropriate.”
In 2019 the Scottish government had to pay the former first minister legal expenses of more than £500,000 after it was found to have acted unlawfully during its own investigation.
Ms Sturgeon has insisted Mr Salmond would not be able to prove there was any conspiracy against him when he appears before the committee of MSPs examining the matter on Wednesday.
“Now, in front of the parliament, the burden of proof is on Alex Salmond. It is time for insinuation and assertion to be replaced with actual evidence,” she said on Monday.
“If, as I fully expect, there is no evidence, because there was no conspiracy, then people will draw their own conclusions.”
The Sturgeon-Salmond row comes as the head of the FDA union for civil servants criticised the behaviour of MSPs on the committee – claiming top Scottish government officials had been treated with “almost open hostility”.
On Tuesday Dave Penman, the union’s general secretary, accused members of the committee of making “derogatory comments” about civil servants and “deliberately misquoting” evidence.
“They have been happy to make public comment, as well as retweeting press articles that make derogatory comments about civil servants and their evidence,” Mr Penman told The Scotsman.
Mr Penman’s comments follow a report inThe Sunday Times suggesting the Scottish government’s permanent secretary, Leslie Evans, could be “thrown under a bus” by SNP members of the committee when the inquiry is concluded.