At a certain point you just have to laugh, even though it’s not really funny.
The submission being referred to is NOT the one Alex Salmond sent to the Holyrood committee this week, but the one he sent to the separate Hamilton inquiry almost a month ago, which had been cleared by his lawyers and was published in full by both Wings and The Spectator and read by tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people.
(For reasons we’re not allowed to tell you, the Wings version has been totally redacted and the Spectator’s has had one paragraph removed but is still mostly intact.)
Because the Fabiani inquiry won’t be publishing the document, that means Salmond isn’t allowed to discuss it when he gives oral evidence, and the inquiry isn’t permitted to consider any of its contents, just as with Geoff Aberdein’s submission.
(There’s very little Salmond actually WILL now be allowed to talk about if he appears before the committee. He might just about be able to confirm his name before the Lord Advocate has him arrested and charged with whatever the opposite of perjury is.)
In other words, the exact people who are supposed to be getting to the bottom of what happened are the only people in Scotland who have to pretend they haven’t read the evidence of the primary witness. (While also not being allowed to see the evidence of the other most important witness, or almost anything else.)
You really would struggle to make this stuff up, readers.
A spokesperson for Salmond issued the following response:
“This is a quite extraordinary development. It would be one thing to remove a sentence or so but to suppress the whole submission is simply farcical. It means that it can’t even be considered for inclusion in the Committee’s report.
In one letter the Convener seems to have wiped out the entire strand of her own Committee’s Inquiry into the Ministerial Code and dispatched the submission into a black hole.
Alex will consult with his advisers tomorrow afternoon as to where this leaves his evidence and what to do now. Obviously everything that Alex has submitted has conformed to all legal requirements and there is no possible justification whatsoever for this decision which makes a mockery of the Parliament’s commitment to openness and transparency.”
We admire their restraint, frankly.