Salmond complainer says it's 'fundamentally untrue' Sturgeon chief of staff interfered in investigation
AN unnamed civil servant has rejected claims made by a Tory MP that the First Minister’s chief of staff “interfered” in the Scottish Government’s investigation of harassment complaints against Alex Salmond.
In a statement released by Rape Crisis Scotland, the complainer described the allegations as “fundamentally untrue”.
On Tuesday night in the Commons, David Davis used parliamentary privilege to make public evidence he said was handed to him by “an anonymous whistleblower”.
One explosive claim was that Sturgeon’s chief of staff, Liz Lloyd, had been involved in the civil service investigation into Salmond in February 2018 – months before Nicola Sturgeon claimed to have known about the investigation.
Davis said: “I have it on good authority that there exists from 6 February 2018, an exchange of messages between civil servants Judith Mackinnon [the civil servant appointed to investigate the complaints made about Salmond by the two women] and [Scottish government's director of people] Barbara Allison suggesting the First Minister’s chief of staff is interfering in the complaints process against Alex Salmond.
“The investigating officer complained: ‘Liz interference, v bad'. I assume that means very bad.
“If true, this suggests that the chief of staff had knowledge of the Salmond case in February,” he said.
In her statement, the women who spoke to Lloyd in February, says she didn’t tell the chief of staff that the investigation was about Salmond.
She said: “I am aware of comments from David Davis MP, in which he suggests the chief of staff to the First Minister, Liz Lloyd, was aware of and ‘interfered’ with complaints against Alex Salmond in February 2018
“These allegations are fundamentally untrue and are being deliberately misrepresented.
“In January 2018 I was approached by Scottish Government HR regarding an investigation they were undertaking into a complaint about Alex Salmond’s behaviour during his time as First Minister.
“I had been named as someone who experienced such behaviour in statements obtained during the course of HR's investigation.
“After discussion with HR, I decided I did not in any way wish to share with them my own personal experiences, however I also did not want to obstruct an investigation.
“I did not know if I was obliged to cooperate after being asked to.
“I decided to raise the matter with a trusted senior person in government, Liz Lloyd, to gain advice and an understanding of my obligations.
“I was extremely conscious of the sensitivity of the investigation and I, therefore, did not tell Liz who the complaint was from, who it was about or the nature of the complaint.
“I informed her I had been approached by HR in relation to a current investigation. I said I had been asked if I wanted to make a complaint and made it clear to her I did not want to, but I was concerned that if I didn’t I may be impeding an investigation.
“She offered to convey my concerns and what I wanted to happen to an appropriate senior civil servant, who was the most appropriate person to discuss the issue with. I agreed to this course of action. This was not ‘interfering’ but acting in line with my wishes.”
The woman says she then met with investigators and relayed her “extreme apprehension about being involved in the investigation.”
She then declined to co-operate and “had no further part in the process.”
Nicola Sturgeon was asked about Davis’s comments during her daily coronavirus briefing. She said: "I refute, strongly refute, the suggestions and insinuations from David Davis in the House of Commons last night.
"I am not going to have this Covid briefing side-tracked by the latest installment of Alex Salmond's conspiracy theory and that's just how it is today.
"I have given eight hours of evidence to the parliamentary committee looking into this.
"They are now able to assess all of the evidence they've taken, including, I'm sure, the evidence they have in relation to the suggestions and claims made by David Davis last night. They have a job of work to do now.
"I'm going to allow them to do that job of work. And in the meantime, I'm going to get on with my job, which for the moment, is leading this COVID briefing, because I'm pretty sure most of the people watching right now want to hear about the COVID situation."