As Alex Salmond finally testified before the Scottish parliament on Friday, it was clear that he was trying to walk quite a fine tightrope.
On the one hand, the former first minister is alleging a conspiracy so vast that, if true, it would deeply discredit the central institutions of the devolved Scottish state. His claims put the reputations of the Scottish government, the Scottish parliament, and the Crown Office, not to mention the civil service and even the police, on the line.
Yet he shrank from the implications of this. Right from the start, he sought to erect a firewall from the leadership of these institutions and the institutions themselves: ‘The Scottish civil service hasn’t failed; its leadership has failed.