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by Louise Wilson
26 October 2020
Former permanent secretary ‘not aware’ of any harassment complaints involving Alex Salmond


Former permanent secretary ‘not aware’ of any harassment complaints involving Alex Salmond

Former permanent secretary Sir Peter Housden has said he was “not aware of any harassment concerns” involving Alex Salmond while he was in office.

Housden also said he did not discuss any “bullying or intimidatory behaviour” by Salmond with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

He was responding to questions put to him by the committee investigating what went wrong with the Scottish Government’s handling of harassment complaints made against Salmond.

That probe was found to be unlawful by the Court of Session and resulted in the government having to pay Salmond over £500,000 in legal expenses.

Housden was permanent secretary to the Scottish Government between June 2010 and June 2015, partially covering the tenure of both Salmond and Sturgeon as first minister.

He wrote: “I can confirm that I was not aware of any harassment concerns and so did not discuss any with Ms Sturgeon.

“While your letter refers only to ‘harassment concerns’, for the avoidance of doubt, I did not discuss any ‘bullying and intimidatory’ behaviour by Mr Salmond with Ms Sturgeon either.”

The committee resumes taking oral evidence on Tuesday morning as it begins its third phase considering the judicial review.

Meanwhile the Scottish Conservatives have urged MSPs to back a motion calling on the government to release the legal advice they received in relation to the review. Provided it gains sufficient support, the party may bring the motion forward for a full parliamentary debate and vote.

Oliver Mundell MSP said: “The Scottish Government has treated this inquiry as a joke and kept key documents hidden, and the Scottish Parliament has been misled repeatedly and blatantly.

“We are calling on MSPs to stand up for the reputation of the parliament. The legal advice must be published, so we can find out exactly how £500,000 of public money was wasted.”

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