Alex Salmond complaints were 'encouraged' claims Conservative MP



Conservative MP David Davis has used parliamentary privilege to criticise the Scottish government's handling of allegations against Alex Salmond.

The former minister told MPs during a Commons debate that there had been a "concerted effort" by SNP officials to encourage complainers to come forward.

Mr Davis also suggested Scottish government officials knew earlier than previously acknowledged of the claims.

A spokesman for Nicola Sturgeon has dismissed the allegations.

Mr Davis accused the Scottish government of ignoring its own procedures and "actively withholding information" from the Holyrood inquiry which has been tasked with looking at the issue.

During the debate he also said: "I have it on good authority that there exists from 6th Feb 2018 an exchange of messages between civil servants suggesting that the first minister's chief of staff is interfering in the complaints process against Alex Salmond.

"If true this suggests the chief of staff had knowledge of the case in February, not April as she has claimed."

Mr Davis said he had been passed messages from the telephone of a senior SNP official by a whistleblower.

He read some of the messages out in the Commons and said they "show that there is a concerted effort by senior members of the SNP to encourage complaints" after the criminal investigation into Mr Salmond had started.

The intervention from Mr Davis came on the day a leading QC asked to examine the government's procedures - after it conceded its handling of complaints against Alex Salmond was "unlawful" - published her findings.

Laura Dunlop made a range of recommendations about how complaints against serving ministers could be investigated but said probes concerning former ministers should be independent.

Ms Dunlop's report came ahead of two other keenly anticipated reports relating to the bungled civil action against Mr Salmond.

A Holyrood inquiry into what went wrong and an independent investigation of whether Ms Sturgeon broke the ministerial code in her contact with her predecessor are both due to report back in the coming weeks.

A spokesman for First Minister Ms Sturgeon said: "As with Mr Salmond's previous claims and cherry picking of messages, the reality is very different to the picture being presented.

"Every message involving SNP staff has been seen by the committee previously. Their views have been widely reported as dismissive of them."