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by Andrew Learmonth
17 March 2021
Former civil servant backs up Salmond claims over accuser name leak

Former civil servant backs up Salmond claims over accuser name leak

ALEX Salmond’s former deputy private secretary has backed up his claim that a Scottish Government official revealed the identity of one of the two civil servants who accused him or harassment. 

Last month, in his written submission to the Holyrood harassment inquiry, the former first minister claimed that his old chief of staff, Geoff Aberdein, was given the information in early March 2018 by someone who worked for the government.  

He said that name was then passed on to him. That’s been disputed by the government. 

But in a letter to the Holyrood inquiry probing the botched investigation, Lorraine Kay says she too heard of the complainant’s name from Aberdein.

The ex-civil servant, with 21 years of service, including five in Salmond’s private office, told MSPs: “Geoff Aberdein and I worked closely together during our time in government, and have also since worked at the same company. I can confirm that Geoff confided in me, back in early March 2018, at the time when [Redacted] requested a meeting with him. 

“I met with Geoff after his meeting with [Redacted], and was shocked to hear that the Scottish Government had received two complaints about Mr Salmond. Geoff also shared with me that [Redacted] had named one of the complainants - I recall this clearly as I knew the individual concerned. I believe I was the first person Geoff spoke to about this issue.”

Kay’s letter adds to the corroboration of Salmond’s account. Former party strategist Kevin Pringle, and advocate Duncan Hamilton - a former MSP – have also backed up the ex-SNP leader. 

In his letter, Hamilton said: "I can also confirm that I was told the name of a complainant by Mr Aberdein in the early part of March 2018.

"I cannot recall the precise date, but it was very shortly after the 7th March 2018, the date Mr Salmond received his letter.

"The name of the complainant had been given to Mr Aberdein by a senior government official."

During her evidence session Sturgeon said Salmond already knew the name of one of the women as he had already apologised to her. 

She also said he undertook his own investigation to discover the identity of the other complainant.

She said: "Alex Salmond was open with me about the identity of one complainant, because he knew.

"He knew about the identity of one complainant because he knew about the incident, because he had apologised to the person concerned.

"I can't recall if the name of the other complainant was shared openly on April 2 [at a meeting between Sturgeon and Salmond at her Glasgow home in 2018].

"He also knew the identity of that complainant because I remember him talking about how he had gone through the Scottish Government Flickr account to find out who had been with him on particular days.

"He knew the identity of both complainants, in one respect because he knew about the incident and in the other respect through his own investigations."

LibDem Alex Cole-Hamilton said it would be "an egregious breach of confidentiality" if true.

Sturgeon agreed that if it had happened, it would be a breach of confidentially, but added: "I've set out why I'm not accepting as fact that it happened, as I think there is an alternative explanation of that."

She said: "The person who told me the identity of one of the complainants, and gave the impression that he knew the identity of the other, was Alex Salmond."

As she was speaking, Alex Salmond's spokesperson released a statement, saying the former First Minister had complained to Leslie Evans, Scotland's most senior civil servant.

The spokesperson said: "Mr Salmond has lodged a formal complaint with the permanent secretary to the Scottish Government under the civil service code, on the conduct of the official who is alleged to have breached civil service rules, by disclosing the name of a complainant in the Scottish Government process."

 

Read the most recent article written by Andrew Learmonth - Constituency profile: Glasgow Southside

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