THE Scottish Government is set to challenge a ruling that they were wrong in failing to provide information relating to an investigation into the conduct of Alex Salmond.

Former first minister Nicola Sturgeon referred herself for investigation regarding her conduct during the probe into harassment complaints about her predecessor Salmond. 

The appeal against the Scottish Information Commissioner's decision, which said the information relating to the investigation should be released, is to be heard at the Court of Session on Wednesday.

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The Scottish Government claimed it did not hold some of the information requested, and what it did hold was exempt from disclosure. 

Salmond – who was first minister between 2007 and 2014 – was investigated by the Scottish Government after two complaints from staff were made under a new complaints procedure which included former ministers.

The investigation was deemed by a judicial review to have been “tainted with apparent bias” after the Scottish Government conceded defeat and Salmond was awarded £512,000 as a result.

Following this, then-first minister Sturgeon referred herself to independent advisers for an alleged breach of ministerial code on January 13 2019.

Under question was whether she failed to record meetings and phone calls, as well as display any influence over the conduct of the internal investigation into Salmond’s behaviour.

James Hamilton, an independent adviser, investigated and determined that Sturgeon had not breached the code. Ministers later declined a Freedom of Information (FORI) request for all written evidence gathered by Hamilton’s investigation.

The rejection was made on the basis that Hamilton was independent of government, and an exemption contained in the FOI act that disclosure of the evidence would cause prejudice to the conduct of public affairs.

The National: Nicola Sturgeon

The decision under appeal is that the Scottish Information Commissioner found the Scottish Government had complied with the FOI (Scotland) Act, but had been wrong to notify Salmond that it did not hold some information and that some information was otherwise accessible to him. 

Salmond has also launched legal action over the handling of the harassment complaints against him.

The Court of Session confirmed earlier last week that the case, Alex Salmond v Scottish ministers, had been called.

A statement from Salmond’s lawyer confirmed his successor Nicola Sturgeon and former permanent secretary Leslie Evans are named among those facing allegations of “misfeasance”.

A spokesperson for Sturgeon said she “utterly refutes” Salmond’s claims against her.

After the case was called, First Minister Humza Yousaf said the Scottish Government will “robustly” defend itself.