The Scottish Parliament’s presiding officer, Ken Macintosh, has offered “reassurance” that the anonymity of complainers will not be put at risk by publishing Alex Salmond’s evidence.
Mr Macintosh made the promise in response to concerns raised by Rape Crisis Scotland in the wake of a ruling on Thursday by the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body (SPCB).
The SPCB decided that written testimony from Mr Salmond could be published, paving the way for his appearance on Wednesday before the Holyrood committee investigating the way the Scottish Government handled harassment allegations against him.
However, the SPCB faced a backlash from the SNP and Rape Crisis Scotland, amid concerns that publishing the evidence could risk breaching court orders protecting the anonymity of complainers in Mr Salmond’s criminal trial.
Sandy Brindley, chief executive of Rape Crisis Scotland, wrote to Mr Macintosh, who is chairman of the SPCB, and Linda Fabiani, the investigating committee chairwoman.
“I am clear that if the parliament publishes anything which could lead to the identification of any of the complainers you will be directly responsible for putting their safety at risk,” she said.
We have written to the Presiding Officer and Convener of the Harassment Committee seeking urgent assurances that Parliament intends to uphold the contempt of court order.
— Rape Crisis Scotland (@rapecrisisscot) February 18, 2021
Presiding Officer @KenMacintoshMSP has responded to a letter from @rapecrisisscot regarding the publishing of evidence by the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints Committee: pic.twitter.com/5Vg0l3BVWN
— Scottish Parliament (@ScotParl) February 19, 2021
Mr Macintosh responded in a letter on Friday, saying: “I fully recognise the concerns that you raise and hope that I can indeed offer you the reassurance you seek.
“As has been made repeatedly clear by the SGHHC (Scottish Government handling of harassment complaints) committee itself, protecting the identity of the complainers in this case as in any such case, is of vital importance to the parliament.
“Furthermore, I can assure you that SPCB entirely supports the role of the court in putting in place orders to provide such protection.
“The parliament will of course comply with the terms of these orders when conducting its scrutiny role.”
On Friday, it was understood that there was a “working assumption” that Mr Salmond would appear before the committee on Wednesday, with a final agreement still to be reached.