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by Jenni Davidson
03 February 2021
Alex Salmond describes the behaviour of the Scottish Government as ‘a disgrace’

Alex Salomnd giving a press conference the day after the harassment allegations were made public - Image credit: PA Images

Alex Salmond describes the behaviour of the Scottish Government as ‘a disgrace’

Alex Salmond has described the behaviour of the Scottish Government as “a disgrace” in his submission to the Scottish Parliament’s harassment inquiry.

In his statement the former first minister accuses the Scottish Government of a “pattern of … lack of candour and a systematic failure to disclose [evidence that] has been deliberate and consistent since 7 March 2018”.

Salmond also claims that Nicola Sturgeon had indicated that she would put forward a case to the Scottish Government for mediation to resolve the complaints, but later changed her mind.

He mentions three meetings with the First Minister, in April, June and July 2018, at which he suggested mediation would be the best way of dealing with the complaints.

Salmond claims that in the first meeting on 2 April 2018, the First Minister “suggested that she would intervene in favour of a mediation process at an appropriate stage” but “subsequently decided against such an intervention”.

The 21-page document outlines his view of how the harassment inquiry played out and also contains as an appendix the results of an investigation by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) into who leaked details of the confidential government inquiry into complaints against him to the media.

On 23 August 2018 The Daily Record revealed that the Scottish Government was investigating harassment complaints against Salmond, the same day the Scottish Government had agreed not to go public about it, followed on 25 August 2018 by further details of one of the complaints.

The ICO has been unable to identify who the source of the leak to the newspaper was.

In his submission, Salmond says that in his view there is an “overwhelming likelihood” that the “criminal leak(s)” came from within government “and were committed with the intention of damaging my reputation but with no regard whatsoever to the interests of the complainers.”

He also claims to have a witness statement stating that in November 2018 a special adviser said the Scottish Government knew that it would lose the judicial review, but they would “‘get him’ in the criminal case’”.

Salmond concludes his submission by expressing his “regret” at having to take the Scottish Government to court, but describing its behaviour as “a disgrace”.

He says: “In short, it remains a matter of deep regret that I had no option but to take the Scottish Government to the Court of Session.

“I did so very reluctantly and only after every other avenue had been exhausted.

“But courts exist for a reason. They exist because when governments act illegally there must be a remedy for the citizen.

“In this case, the illegality was finally conceded but only after a legal process which will have cost upwards of £750,000 of taxpayers money and which caused immense strain and distress to all involved.

“The behaviour of the Government was, in my view, a disgrace. But actions have consequences.

“Accountability is at the heart of the Scottish Parliament. The rule of law requires that those who have acted illegally are held to account.

“It is now the job of this committee to resolve how that is best done.”

Alex Salmond is due to appear before the Scottish Parliament’s Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints to give evidence on Tuesday 9 February.

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