ALEX Salmond has rejected claims that he possesses a piece of the Stone of Destiny after a former Scottish secretary said he had “stolen” it.

According to files released earlier this month by the National Records of Scotland, the former first minister was given the fragment by professor Neil MacCormick, whose father helped finance the stone’s return to Scotland from Westminster Abbey in 1950.

The files showed Salmond was told he could keep the artefact by the Scottish Government’s top official Sir John Elvidge in 2008.

Elvidge, then permanent secretary, agreed the stone fragment “need not be surrendered to Historic Scotland”.

The National:

However, the Alba Party leader has denied that he has the piece.

He told the Telegraph that he believed it to have been put in an “Aladdin’s Cave” cupboard for gifts at Bute House or the Scottish Government’s headquarters, St Andrew’s House.

Salmond added that the Scottish Government gave a fragment of the stone to be encased in the seat of Queen Elizabeth’s carriage for her Diamond Jubilee in 2011, but he did not know if it was the same one.

“Whether that was the MacCormick fragment or another one, I am not altogether sure. What I can say, is that it is not in my possession, nor is it under my car seat!”, Salmond said.

He added: “I am not altogether certain that Historic Scotland was enthused by the idea of multiple fragments of the stone coming into official possession, as they had completed their own tests on the authenticity of the relic, and Sir John Elvidge may have decided that designating it as private property was the most elegant solution.”

It comes after Lord Forsyth of Drumlean, the former Scottish secretary who brought the stone back to Scotland, told The Telegraph the fragment should be returned and displayed in a new museum planned for Perth.

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Forsyth told the Telegraph: “I cannot imagine how Alex Salmond thought it appropriate to keep a gift of part of the stone which was obtained as a result of a criminal act. The fragment should be displayed in the new museum planned at Perth.”

Current Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said: “The Stone of Scone is an artefact of immense historical importance.

“This fragment and any other pieces that were lost at the time it was taken should be in the care of the stone’s new home, Perth Museum, which I’m proud to say is being developed with £10 million of UK Government funding.”

Although Salmond did not contest the accuracy of the Cabinet minutes, he said “the story may be rather more involved” than the documents explain.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The Stone of Destiny is the responsibility of the Commissioners for the Safeguarding of the Regalia.

“The Commissioners have been advised about the content of the 2008 Cabinet paper. The Scottish Government understands that the Commissioners have simply noted the historical position.”