We’re sure you all read this story last night.
Via another source we’d known it was coming for a few hours and were all set to follow it up, but in fact Daniel Sanderson of the Telegraph did a pretty thorough job on it in a comprehensive piece, even listing all the times the “prepared” civil servants had had to go back and “clarify” “errors” in their evidence even after dozens of hours of practice and £55,000 worth of “training” in how to not quite tell the truth under pressure.
It was hard not to wonder how abysmal their performances would have been if they’d only had – say – £30,000 worth of coaching at your expense.
The Unionist members of the inquiry committee quite understandably couldn’t contain their glee when the story broke.
When you’ve made such a colossally incompetent giant arse of everything that you’ve been reduced to a laughing stock for the likes of Baillie, Fraser and Cole-Hamilton, it’s probably time to take a long hard look at whether you’re still fit for your job.
But there was a serious side too.
Joanna Cherry is of course quite right. The Law Society of Scotland makes very clear on its website that coaching of witnesses is not allowed, and there are strict rules on who can help prepare a witness to give evidence.
Readers will of course be astounded to hear that the Scottish Government refused to disclose who had been paid the £55,000 to “help” with the evidence, so we have no way of knowing whether those rules were adhered to or not.
But it may be a moot point in any case, after another development of the evening.
Because in a sudden unexpected reversal, James Hamilton – the man conducting the other current inquiry into the Scottish Government’s actions around the Alex Salmond investigation – issued a rare public statement to confirm that he WILL after all now be directly looking into whether Nicola Sturgeon repeatedly misled Parliament about what she knew (which we already know she did).
The fact that Mr Hamilton has only just made this decision does still prove that Nicola Sturgeon and John Swinney were both lying about it previously. But more to the point, it makes it almost beyond the bounds of human credibility, given the evidence already published, that Hamilton won’t now find that the First Minister misled Parliament, which is an unequivocal resignation offence under the Ministerial Code.
But fret ye not, readers. The under-fire First Minister might seem to be in a whole heap of trouble, but a great groundswell of gallant and definitely totally genuine grassroots support has rushed to her defence on social media. People like this:
And like this:
And like Tom here:
And like this:
And like definitely-real Russ:
And like this guy:
And this guy:
And like this:
We could go on, but it gets too embarrassing after a while. It looks like everything’s fine. Nothing to worry about. Nothing to see here. Go back to your homes and remain indoors, readers. Wait for The Quiz Broadcast, showing every Tuesday morning for a couple more months. Another indyref is coming, honest. Independence is inevitable.
Nicola’s got this. Trust her.