Tom Peterkin of the Press and Journal reported exclusively from Holyrood that Police Scotland have launched an inquiry into the leaking of electronic messages related to the Alex Salmond trial.
The messages revealed that the Crown Office has instructed officers to investigate how messages appearing to show Nicola Sturgeon’s husband backing police action against the former first minister were made public.
Their existence came to light when they were passed to SNP MP Kenny MacAskill, who says he has given them to a Holyrood committee as well as the Crown Office.
Mr MacAskill said the messages were in a document he received anonymously recently.
One line of inquiry will be whether these messages were part of a dossier passed on to Mr Salmond’s legal team by the Crown as part of the disclosure process in his recent criminal trial.
Mr Salmond was cleared of all sexual offence charges in March this year.
Scots law states an accused person and his legal representatives are allowed only to use the disclosed information for the purposes of conducting the criminal proceedings.
It is a criminal offence for a person to knowingly use or disclose the information for any other purpose.
A Police Scotland spokesman said: “The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service has instructed us to investigate the potential unlawful disclosure of material. Enquiries are at an early stage.”
The document received by Mr MacAskill – who served as Justice Secretary in Mr Salmond’s government – claims to show WhatsApp messages from Peter Murrell, Ms Sturgeon’s husband who is also the chief executive of the SNP.
According to the document, they seem to have been sent in January 2019 after Mr Salmond had appeared in court charged with sexual offences.
It was also the month in which a separate complaint was made about the former SNP leader to the Metropolitan Police. The Met later dropped the complaint.
One message appears to show Mr Murrell calling for pressure to be put on police over Mr Salmond’s case.
A second message appears to show the SNP chief executive supporting action by prosecutors in relation to the former first minister.
The developments are the latest twist in a saga which has driven a wedge between Mr Salmond and Ms Sturgeon.
Mr Salmond visited Ms Sturgeon at home to discuss the Scottish Government’s internal investigation into harassment claims made against him.
In evidence submitted to the Holyrood inquiry, Mr Murrell has said he knew Mr Salmond visited Ms Sturgeon at their family home but did not know why.
In his submission, Mr Murrell said he was aware that “something serious was being discussed” when the former first minister called in April and July 2018. Mr Murrell said his wife told him that she could not talk about the details of the meeting and he did not press her on it.
The Salmond inquiry is investigating the Scottish Government’s bungled internal investigation into the claims made against the former SNP leader. Mr Salmond made a successful legal challenge against the Scottish Government with a court concluding the government’s handling of the matter had been tainted with apparent bias.
The Scottish Government was forced to pay out more than £500,000 for Mr Salmond’s legal costs.
Mr MacAskill told the Daily Record: “I can confirm that I received an anonymous letter containing a document. I have notified both Alex Salmond and the Crown and have passed it to the inquiry committee at the Scottish Parliament.
“I would like the Scottish Parliament and the Crown Office to investigate the contents of this document.”
The SNP declined to comment. Mr Salmond was also approached for comment.
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BBC Scotland will continue to screen Nicola Sturgeon’s coronavirus briefings live on TV in the “coming weeks”.
The pledge came following criticism of the broadcaster’s announcement last week that televised coverage would be based on “editorial merit”.
Donalda MacKinnon, pictured left, BBC Scotland director, said there had never been any intention to stop coverage.
She added that “other voices and perspectives” would now feature alongside the FM’s weekday briefings.
In an email to staff, Ms MacKinnon explained: “We’ve said now that we’ll look at the briefings in the round – meaning we’ll broadcast them live on TV when we are in a period of the pandemic when there is significant public information being shared, such as new measures being introduced and implemented, rising rates of cases, a three weekly review update or other public information.”
The first minister had said that it was a matter for the BBC to decide what it broadcast, but she believed that her “ability to communicate directly with the public has never been more important”.
A Dumbarton-based housing association has voted in favour of transferring all its assets to a larger social landlord – in what has been hailed as a major step towards the regeneration of part of the town.
The Bellsmyre Housing Association (BHA) members overwhelmingly backed a proposal to transfer all of the organisation’s property and assets to Caledonia Housing Association.
Caledonia says the vote will enable a £30 million regeneration plan for homes and services in the old Glenside part of Bellsmyre to go ahead.
Don’t believe everything you read in the papers (or write in them for that matter).
It didn’t take Lewis Goodall, the policy correspondent of BBC Newsnight, long to establish that Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon may be miles ahead in the opinion polls over the Prime Minister Boris Johnston in relation to their handling the Covid-19 crisis.
Goodall, who was up here to look at the imminent demise of Richard Leonard as the Scottish Labour leader, interviewed Angus Robertson, who is hoping to become the SNP’s candidate for Edinburgh Central, will launch his online platform today in the hope of convincing members he should stand for the seat formerly held by Ruth Davidson.
The truth of the of the matter is that Nicola’s media performances may be better than Boris’s, but that they have handled the Covid crisis equally badly in high profile areas such as when the lockdown was imposed and lifted, deaths in care homes and the availability of PPE and test and trace.
Robertson, a feisty Nat who was bumped out of his Westminster seat in December , will launch his online platform today in the hope of convincing members he should stand for the seat.