FORMER Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy’s government reportedly destroyed all documentation it had relating to the Catalan independence referendum before Pedro Sanchez arrived to take over at the Moncloa palace last summer.

According to the Spanish newspaper Okdiario, it left the Socialist (PSOE) executive unable to confirm any of the evidence being heard at the trial of pro-independence leaders at Spain’s Supreme Court.

It said the PSOE found when they took office that computers had been wiped and documents relating to the independence referendum had been shredded on the orders of outgoing personnel. Therefore, transcripts of discussions involving the Spanish and Catalan governments had disappeared, along with talks involving the police or political decisions.

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Okdiario said witnesses had told them the deletions included details of decisions or policies taken at the time of the referendum.

It said Sanchez had planned to continue talks with the Catalan government after the referendum, but when his team arrived to check documentation relating to it, they found it had disappeared.

One witness told the publication that when “document erasure teams” arrived at the Moncloa, “there was a surprise among the staff because supposedly the motion of censure [against Rajoy] was not [yet] decided”.

Meanwhile, the trial heard from a legal secretary who said she was frightened to leave the economy ministry during protests outside the building in September 2017, 10 days before the referendum.

Montserrat del Toro said of the evening of police raids on the ministry: “I heard a loud noise, and then I saw several people pressed against the glass door. I was afraid, like any human being.”

She said Jordi Sanchez, one of the civic leaders on trial for his role in the referendum, told her he “couldn’t do anything” to move people away from the building’s entrance.

She refused to leave by three routes shown to her by officers of the Catalan police and was dismayed when they laughed at her request for a helicopter, thinking “it was a joke”.