28 Oct 2012
The row over what legal advice Alex Salmond received about Scotland’s future place in Europe has been plunged into further confusion.
Reports today say Scotland’s law officers consistently told the First Minister that a separate Scotland would not automatically become part of the EU.
They also claim Alex Salmond was told his policy would require “detailed negotiations”.
The reports come as the First Minister has been accused of trying to rig the inquiry into his conduct over the affair.
Lord Fraser of Carmyllie, a member of the panel that advises the Scottish Government on the conduct of ministers, has been prevented from investigating the case.
He also said the complaint against Alex Salmond could not be properly dealt with within the narrow confines of the ministerial code.
Scottish Conservative Chief Whip John Lamont MSP said:
“This row is not going to go away for the First Minister no matter how hard he twists and turns.
“With every passing day, Alex Salmond’s defence crumbles even more as further revelations emerge on what legal advice was given, when and to whom.
“Referring himself for investigation is merely a smokescreen to deflect from the fact he has been less than straight with the Scottish people on whether a separate Scotland would automatically become part of the EU.
“It is clear this inquiry has been rigged from the start and its remit will not be wide enough to examine fully the First Minister’s conduct.
“While Alex Salmond said he received legal advice, his deputy, Nicola Sturgeon, told the Scottish Parliament no specific advice existed. Both can’t be right and either the public has been misled or Parliament has been misinformed.
“The people of Scotland have been duped throughout this shoddy affair and the only way to get close to the truth is for the Lord Advocate to bring clarity to this issue by speaking up.”
For claims the First Minister received advice from law officers, please go to the following link: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/alex-salmond-caught-out-on-eu-legal-advice-8229386.html
For Lord Fraser’s comments please go to the following link: http://www.scotsman.com/news/alex-salmond-accused-of-bid-to-rig-ministerial-code-inquiry-1-2602749
In March this year, First Minister Alex Salmond confirmed in a BBC interview with Andrew Neil that he had received advice from the Scottish Government’s law officers.
But in an official statement on Tuesday this week, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told Parliament that no specific advice had been sought from law officers on the issue of an independent Scotland’s membership of the EU.
This week Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson twice called on the Lord Advocate to make a statement to the Scottish Parliament and explain what legal advice the SNP had received from his offices about an independent Scotland’s place in Europe, but First Minster Alex Salmond immediately tried to block the request.
On Friday, the situation became even more unclear when the Scottish government confirmed law officers had read and approved three documents produced by the SNP (Choosing Scotland’s Future, 2007; Your Scotland, Your Voice, 2009; Your Scotland Your Referendum, 2012) – all of which claimed an independent Scotland would continue in the European Union.
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson MSP wrote to the Lord Advocate on Thursday morning inviting him to appear before MSPs in the Scottish Parliament.