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by Rebecca McQuillan
03 November 2020
Alex Salmond documents published by harassment committee


Alex Salmond documents published by harassment committee

Documents from the former First Minster Alex Salmond into the botched harassment investigation against him have been published.

The substantially redacted documents contain almost 150 pages of evidence, including legal correspondence and emails.

They were submitted after several requests by the Scottish Parliament’s Committee on the Scottish Government’s Handling of Harassment Complaints, which warned the former First Minister that his perspective might not be taken fully into account unless he complied quickly.

The evidence reveals several requests to the Scottish Government by Salmond’s legal team in the spring and summer 2018 to go to mediation “to seek a consensual resolution of the complaints”. Arbitration of the complaints was then sought. The correspondence repeatedly argues that the Scottish Government’s process was unlawful, raising further questions about the time it took the Scottish Government to accept that its process was flawed.

The correspondence warns the Scottish Government of the “procedural incompetence” of the process.

In a letter of May 18 2018 to the Permanent Secretary Leslie Evans, lawyer David McKie of Levy & McRae details concerns around both the competency and fairness of the process, including contesting that a new complaints procedure not in place when the incidents allegedly occurred could be "retrospectively applied" and suggesting the process was unfair, due to an ongoing lack of access to evidence.

It warns "we reserve our position in relation to a challenge by Judicial Review to any purported decision taken by you on the grounds that our client is not being given a fair hearing, is being denied proper access to the evidence against him and is being denied the opportunity to put his case properly".

It also contains a letter by Salmond’s lawyer to the First Minister reminding her of her “duty of confidentiality”.

Salmond announced on August 23 that he was launching a judicial review against the Scottish Government.

At 3.24pm that day, McKie sent an email to Evans, in apparent response to an email from her of 2.07pm. It says: "Your letter purports to make this process public and provides us and our client with fewer than three hours' notice of your intentions."

It goes on to say that Salmond has instructed senior counsel "to draft Judicial Review proceedings against the decision and interdict preventing publication of the process in light of the concerns which we have set out throughout".

"We therefore seek your undertaking that no statement will be issued this afternoon until the question of interdict has been determined."

Later that day, there is a sternly worded letter from McKie to the Evans, after the Daily Record newspaper contacted Salmond about a story relating to allegations of sexual assault against him. The Daily Record had contacted the former First Minister saying it was planning to run a story on the police complaint about the harassment of a female member of staff during his time in office.

McKie’s letter reads: “Our client received an email tonight from the Daily Record indicating that they were proposing to publish an article.

“The email made clear that they were 'carrying a story' and gave our client a deadline of 10pm for response, which gave him effectively no time to obtain an Interdict this evening. The Daily Record appear to have waited a number of hours before approaching our client for comment.

“Our client provided the undernoted statement in response to the article.

“Our client is extremely concerned at the level of detail which the Daily Record appeared to have acquired on the story and is strongly of the view that the detail can only have been provided by a member of the Scottish Government.

“Our client formally calls upon the Scottish Government to institute an immediate inquiry into the source(s) of this information standing the Government's assurances on confidentiality.”

The Daily Record article, appended below the email, revealed that the Scottish Government had handed allegations of sexual assault to the police about Salmond. The former First Minister announced his judicial review action that day.

The Scottish Government conceded the judicial review, after incurring more than £500,000 in costs.

The inquiry continues.


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