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Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-21344: Rona Mackay (Strathkelvin and Bearsden)

Scottish National Party

Date lodged: 31 January 2019

To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide an update on the review of its procedure for handling complaints about Ministers or former Ministers, and on the First Minister’s self-referral under the Ministerial Code.

Answered by: John Swinney 31 January 2019

The Scottish Government is committed to carrying out a review of the application of its procedure for handling complaints about Ministers or former Ministers. The review will be externally led and will examine the first application of the procedure to ensure that lessons are applied for any future complaints that are brought forward.

However, the Scottish Government does not wish to undertake any activity which may unintentionally prejudice live criminal proceedings, adversely impact the rights of anyone involved in the proceedings or affect the formal criminal process which is now under way. As a result, this review of its procedure for handling complaints about Ministers or former Ministers will not be progressed at this stage.

The First Minister’s self-referral under the Ministerial Code has been discussed with James Hamilton, the Independent Adviser on the Code. Mr Hamilton has concluded that there is a potential risk of prejudice if the First Minister’s self-referral under the Ministerial Code were to proceed at the present time. It has therefore been agreed that the inquiry under the Ministerial Code should also be deferred while criminal investigations are active.

Both the Scottish Government review and consideration under the Ministerial Code will recommence once criminal proceedings are no longer active and the risk of prejudice has been removed.