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Assurances sought that Westminster can act over conduct of Scottish Government

By PA News

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Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon with Alex Salmond (Andrew Milligan/PA)

A former minister has sought assurances that Westminster can act to ensure the conduct of the Scottish Government “does not bring politics in the whole of the United Kingdom into international disrepute” over Alex Salmond.

Dr Liam Fox, who previously served as international trade secretary, suggested that remarks made by Mr Salmond towards the Scottish Government would be a “damning indictment in a tinpot dictatorship”

Earlier this week, the former Scottish first minister claimed that there was a “malicious and concerted attempt” to damage his reputation and to have him removed from public life in Scotland.

Mr Salmond also questioned the Crown Office’s “unprecedented and highly irregular actions” after it intervened to have his evidence to a Scottish Parliament committee redacted.

Raising a point of order in the Commons on Wednesday, Dr Fox told MPs: “Yesterday, the former first minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond, accused the Scottish Government of, and I quote, ‘the complete breakdown of the necessary barriers which should exist between government, political party and indeed the prosecution authorities in any country which abides by the rule of law’.

“Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Eleanor Laing), this would be a damning indictment in a tinpot dictatorship, but this is happening in a part of the United Kingdom.

“Given that the Scottish Parliament derives its authority from legislation passed in this Parliament, what mechanisms do we have to ensure that the conduct of the Scottish Government does not bring politics in the whole of the United Kingdom into international disrepute?”

Dame Eleanor responded: “(Dr Fox) has raised some very significant issues concerning the relationship between the legislature, the executive and the courts, that is the doctrine known as the separation of powers which is a very bedrock of our constitutional settlement.

“It is not, of course, for the occupant of the chair to make any judgment about what (Dr Fox) has specifically said or indeed the quotation which he used, but this House is, of course, always concerned with safeguarding democratic standards and I’m sure that (Dr Fox) will use his ingenuity to find a way of bringing this matter once again before the House when it can be fully examined.”

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