Former Justice Secretary MacAskill calls for judge-led Inquiry Into the Crown Office
Former Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill MP has called for the Scottish Government to establish a judge-led inquiry into the role of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) following revelations in the Scottish media that the COPFS may have delayed by up to two weeks the granting of a warrant to carry out a search into the home of the former First Minister, Ms Nicola Sturgeon MSP and the SNP Chief Executive Mr Peter Murrell in order to avoid it taking place during the SNP leadership contest.
In a statement Mr MacAskill MP who served as the Scottish Justice Secretary between 2007 and 2014 said:
“These are matters of the utmost gravity and seriousness with huge implications for the functioning of our legal system and our democracy. As Justice Secretary, I was involved in changes to expedite the warrant process. Delays then were due to bureaucracy and IT systems. I never envisaged that police investigations might be delayed by what appears to be political considerations.
“That is why I am today calling for a judge-led inquiry into the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service in order to restore trust and confidence in this vital institution and to reassure the public that the decisions taken by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service have not been influenced by political considerations. Furthermore, we must have absolute clarity that there has not been and will not be any outside and undue interference in the democratic process.
“Ultimately these matters can best be addressed through the separation of powers between the Crown Office and the Procurator Fiscal Service and the Government currently vested in the Lord Advocate. This is something which I have consistently called for, and indeed I led a Debate on this matter, in the House of Commons in July 2021.
“However the public cannot wait for that to happen which is why we need an inquiry now!”