Last week, The Spectator went to the High Court in Edinburgh to seek clarification on the publication of Alex Salmond's written testimony to the Parliamentary Inquiry into how the Scottish Government handled complaints against him (nothing to do with the criminal trial). We published his evidence on our website in January as a public service. By contrast, and to our surprise, the Inquiry decided that it was unable to consider this evidence, apparently due to a court order protecting the anonymity of complainers.
We welcome Lady Dorrian’s written judgment today which confirms that - as we always believed - the court had no intention of obstructing a legitimate parliamentary inquiry established to investigate government behaviour and hold it to account. We believe there is no reason why all key and relevant evidence should not now be published.
It is right, of course, that none of the complainers should be identified: this is a matter of basic decency as well as observing a court order. But both Parliament and the Press do have a duty to scrutinise evidence from all sides and to inform the public on issues of national importance. We respect the importance of striking the correct balance between the freedom to publish important information and providing anonymity for complainers.
The court judgment clearly says that it is for the Parliamentary Inquiry to decide how to proceed. As we argued after the initial judgment last week, the Scottish Parliament was created to bring transparency and scrutiny to devolved government. It is now for the Inquiry to put that into effect. Anything less would be an affront to the accountability of government in a democratic society — and render the Inquiry null and void.