FORMER First Minister Alex Salmond has made a dramatic intervention in the current controversy over the Spanish Government’s treatment of Catalonians during the independence referendum by calling for an inquiry into “a flagrant breach of human rights”.

Speaking at the Political Affairs and Democracy Committee of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, Salmond called for action against the Spanish Government over what he called “state violence”.

Salmond alleges that the Spanish Government has breached Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights which states that “everyone has the right to freedom of expression” and the “freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers”.

By raising the matter directly with the Council of Europe – the group of 47 nations dedicated to upholding human rights across Europe – Salmond has significantly raised the stakes above the calls already made to the European Union for action against Spain.

Speaking as a member of the British delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Salmond said: “Of course there should be dialogue and a constructive approach to discussions between Madrid and Barcelona and anything this Council can do to facilitate and indeed begin that dialogue then we should do. But it is not the job of this Council to be in favour of Spanish unity or indeed Catalan independence.

“I welcome the intervention of the Council’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Mui?nieks, in calling for a Spanish investigation into police violence. However, it should be the job of this Council to investigate breaches of our Convention and take the appropriate action.

“The flagrant breach of Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights on freedom of expression cannot be allowed to stand. The Spanish Government should be held to account by this Council for the state violence of their police last Sunday perpetrated against a peaceful population.”