Ministerial code report published

James Hamilton concludes FM self-referral.

The independent report by Mr James Hamilton on the First Minister’s self-referral under the Scottish Ministerial Code has been published.

Mr Hamilton is a former Director of Public Prosecutions in Ireland and has been an independent adviser on the Code since January 2013, having been appointed by Alex Salmond when he was First Minister.

He was asked to assess whether there had been any breach of the Code by the First Minister, the nature of any such breach and, if a breach had occurred, to advise on the appropriate remedy or sanction.

Mr Hamilton looked at the following:

  • the First Minister’s meeting with Geoff Aberdein on 29 March 2018, and the meetings / telephone calls with Mr Salmond on 2 and 23 April, 7 June and 14 and 18 July 2018
  • whether the First Minister misled Parliament about these meetings
  • whether the First Minister attempted to influence the conduct of the investigation
  • whether the First Minister broke the code by continuing with the judicial review.

On each point he found the First Minister had not breached the code, saying in his conclusions at para 18.2 of the report: “I am of the opinion that the First Minister did not breach the provisions of the Ministerial Code in respect of any of these matters.”

Mr Hamilton’s report, formally commissioned by Deputy First Minister John Swinney, was delivered to the Scottish Government today. In line with the First Minister’s commitment to Parliament, the report has been published on the day of receipt.

The report is being published in full, except for information that needs to be excluded to comply with court orders in force to protect the identity of complainers. In a covering note to the report Mr Hamilton has acknowledged that redactions will be necessary.

Commenting, Mr Swinney said:

“I want to thank Mr Hamilton for his thorough and impartial assessment of the facts. 

People can read the report for themselves, but the rigour and independence of his investigation is clear.

“This report is the formal outcome of the self-referral under the Ministerial Code made by the First Minister on 13 January 2019. I hope that everyone will now accept that Mr Hamilton’s conclusions are comprehensive and evidence-based.”


The remit for Mr Hamilton’s work can be found at:

His report can be found at:


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