Alex Salmond’s appearance before a committee of MSPs has been thrown into fresh doubt after a majority again voted against publishing his evidence.
The Holyrood inquiry decided on Wednesday evening that a High Court ruling in the case of the former first minister had “no impact” on its decision.
However, the MSPs did agree that a final ruling should be made by the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body (SPCB).
Mr Salmond had been understood to be willing to appear before the inquiry next Wednesday if his documents were published.
The committee is investigating the Scottish Government’s botched handling of harassment allegations against Mr Salmond.
It was set up after the former SNP leader received a £512,000 pay-out following the Court of Session civil ruling that the Scottish Government’s handling of the complaints was “unlawful” and “tainted by apparent bias”.
Mr Salmond was cleared of 13 charges, including sexual assault, indecent assault and attempted rape, following a trial last year.
Lady Dorrian’s ruling
The MSPs had previously voted by five to four against releasing the details of part of his evidence, citing legal concerns over orders to protect the anonymity of complainers.
But Mr Salmond’s supporters and some MSPs viewed last week’s ruling by Lady Dorrian as a breakthrough that could have paved the way for its publication.
The judge had amended the order protecting the anonymity of the complainers in the case to clarify that it related to “those proceedings”.
On Wednesday night the committee again voted by five to four against publication.
Alasdair Allan, Linda Fabiani, Stuart McMillan, Maureen Watt and Andy Wightman were against, while opposition members Jackie Baillie, Alex Cole-Hamilton, Murdo Fraser and Margaret Mitchell were in favour.
They voted by six to three to refer it to the SPCB for a final decision, however.
The majority of the committee is clear that the judgement has no impact on its previous decision and understanding of its legal obligations and its decision on the publication of the submission from the former first minister on the ministerial code.”
Scottish Parliament spokeswoman
Invitation to Salmond
A Scottish Parliament spokeswoman said on Wednesday: “The committee tonight considered the detail of Lady Dorrian’s ruling and its impact on the committee’s decision not to publish Mr Salmond’s evidence on the ministerial code.
“The majority of the committee is clear that the judgement has no impact on its previous decision and understanding of its legal obligations and its decision on the publication of the submission from the former first minister on the ministerial code. The scope of the order has not changed.
“However, the committee is keenly aware that publication is for the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body and has tonight agreed to refer this to the SPCB for a decision on its publication.
“The committee is pleased to hear that Mr Salmond is willing to give evidence next Wednesday. He can, as a minimum, give evidence on all of his published submissions and records.
“As such, the committee plans to write to him tomorrow to invite him to attend next Wednesday.”