18 January 2019

Labour has today formally written to Nicola Sturgeon, calling on her to give up the SNP’s right to chair the special committee established to probe the Alex Salmond case.

Under parliamentary precedent the SNP is due to chair the next committee established in Holyrood.

At First Minister’s Questions yesterday, Nicola Sturgeon refused to answer calls from the Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard that the SNP give up the convenor’s position.

Now, Mr Leonard has written to Nicola Sturgeon calling for the SNP to step aside and let an MSP from an opposition party chair the inquiry.

The full text of Richard Leonard’s letter is below

Dear First Minister,

Last week, you did the right thing in agreeing to refer yourself for investigation under the Ministerial Code after my request at First Minister’s Questions.

We both agree that at the centre of this case are two brave women who have been let down. We must not lose sight of that, and we must restore trust and confidence in the system.

In the Chamber yesterday, I asked for your commitment – as Leader of the SNP – for the Convenor of the committee being established to investigate matters arising from the Alex Salmond investigation, to come from a party other than the governing party.

Under the present arrangements, an SNP MSP would be the Convenor of this committee.

However, given the likely remit of the committee and the power of the Convenor, I believe that in the interests of transparency, integrity and objectivity, it would be best served if the Convenor did not belong to the same political party as the Government.

This is particularly important, because the separation between party matters and government matters is a central feature of this case, and a matter of serious contention that the committee will need to inquire into.

In addition, I repeat my request that you support the call for the committee’s deliberations to be held in public and only meet in private session by exception. And that there should be no time limit on how long it sits for or how many sittings it has.

The commitment I seek is that “all appropriate information” includes not only all internal government correspondence but also all internal SNP correspondence.

While it is the responsibility of the Parliamentary Bureau and Parliament to establish the committee, it would send a clear message if you will commit to these proposals.

An early response would be greatly appreciated. And given the very strong public interest, I will be making this letter public.

Yours sincerely,

Richard Leonard MSP

Scottish Labour Leader

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