Garve Scott-Lodge's

Sorry Excuse for a Blog

Alex Salmond did not lie.

25 October 2012

I've not been able to find a full transcript of the interview of Alex Salmond by Andrew Neil, so have transcribed the most important passage below.

Immediately prior to this exchange both AN and AS list various experts who support both sides of the argument with respect to an independent Scotland's position in Europe.

10:40 - 11:06

  1. AN - So we've established that it is unprecedented, though you're trying to give a guarantee. Have you sought advice from your own Scottish law officers in this matter?
  2. AS - We have, Yes, in terms of the debate, and obviously...
  3. AN - ...and what do they say?
  4. AS - ...well, you can read that in the documents we've put forward, which argue the position that we'd be successor states...
  5. AN - ...and what do they say?
  6. AS - ...well, you know I can't give you the legal advice, or reveal the legal advice of law officers. You know that Andrew. But what you can...
  7. AN - but this is the future of Scotland?
  8. AS - Yes, but what you can say is that everything we publish is consistent with the legal advice we receive.

When asked if he had legal advice Alex Salmond said "We have, yes, in terms of the debate."

A few seconds later he said the advice can be read "in the documents that we have put forward which argue the position that we would be a successor state".

So what this clearly shows - I repeat, clearly shows - is that when he first answered 'Yes' he was talking about already published legal advice, advice he had already gained permission to publish. He was not talking about any other advice as that would be against the ministerial code.

I fully accept that the way the questions and answers were phrased could easily lead the listener to the conclusion that the Scottish government had received legal advice on this issue, but the transcript shows beyond doubt that that was not Alex Salmond's intended meaning.

Was Alex Salmond avoiding the precise question asked by Andrew Neil? Did he misunderstand it? Was it not clear enough? I don't know, but I do know that he didn't lie. His answers were clear and consistent on that.