Holyrood has voted to call on the Scottish Government to publish its legal advice in the Alex Salmond case.
MSPs supported the move – by 63 votes to 55 – after an impassioned debate in which the opposition parties united to crank up the pressure on the Government.
The vote took place after allegations were aired in the chamber that the Government used public funds to pursue a “vendetta” against Salmond.
A Holyrood committee is examining how in 2018 the Government botched an investigation into sexual harassment complaints against Salmond.
Salmond pursued a judicial review and it was agreed the Government probe had been unlawful.
The fiasco cost the taxpayer over £500,000 and destroyed the relationship between Salmond and his successor Nicola Sturgeon.
However, the Government has snubbed the committee by refusing to hand over its legal advice on Salmond’s judicial review.
MSPs believe the advice is relevant to their inquiry, but the Government has refused on the grounds of legal privilege.
At a Holyrood debate today, led by the Tories, Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser said not publishing the advice was a “political choice”.
He added that the Government had treated the Committee with “something close to contempt”.
He argued: ” Mr Salmond’s allies believe that the legal advice obtained by the Scottish Government told them that the judicial review case should not be defended, as there was very little chance of success.
“If that is indeed what the legal advice said, then a decision was taken at the top of the Scottish Government to go and defend the case regardless – a decision which, in the light of what we now know, was both irresponsible and reckless.
“More worrying still is the accusation that this decision was made on political grounds, and in effect the Scottish Government were pursuing a vendetta against the former First Minister, and using public funds to do so.”
Deputy First Minister John Swinney responded by saying that legal privilege is “inherent” to the “functioning of good government”.
He also said the Government had provided over 1000 pages of material.
Support by Labour, the Lib Dems and the Greens ensured the motion passed.
The Government’s amendment was defeated.