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Holyrood Magazine

Scottish lawyer resolves dispute over First Minister Holyrood magazine interview

By Hamish Mackay

November 29, 2011 | 3 min read

A leading Scottish lawyer has resolved his differences with First Minister Alex Salmond over comments he made in the Holyrood magazine.

Tony Kelly had threatened to sue the First Minister over his comments in which he questioned Kelly’s motives and actions in acting on behalf of prisoners.

Lawyers wrote to the Holyrood magazine on Kelly’s behalf asking for an apology; a donation to charity in lieu of damages; and payment of legal costs.

In its issue published yesterday (Monday), Holyrood magazine carried a statement from Kelly but did not accept the statements were defamatory or untrue.

Mandy Rhodes, editor of the Holyrood magazine , wrote : “At no point have we or our lawyers accepted that the statements made by the First Minister were defamatory or untrue and neither have they been tested in a court of law.

“Mr Kelly complained through his lawyers that he was unhappy with what we had carried in an interview with the First Minister and asked Holyrood magazine to comply with a number of requests in order for him to not take further legal action.

“We declined to comply with all other requests other than to carry the statement from Mr Kelly that is published in the magazine today and on that basis his legal team considered the matter resolved.

“This is not a correction or an apology but a clarification of his position and, frankly, had Mr Kelly spoken to me in June about his reaction to the First Minister’s comments, I would have carried a much more in-depth right of reply.

“Alex Salmond is the First Minister of Scotland and there is a legitimate public interest in what he has to say.

“If as journalists we have to stop reporting the words of important people in political life, that would be a serious concern and one that I would have thought would worry a human rights lawyer like Tony Kelly.”

Kelly is quoted by The Herald as saying: “I am pleased to put this episode behind me once and for all. The comments of the First Minister in his interview with Holyrood magazine caused me, and my family, considerable upset and distress.

“I was glad at the time to see those comments attracted almost universal condemnation.

“I note the First Minister has not subsequently repeated these remarks, or sought to suggest they were true.”

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