Police Scotland assessing complaint about leak of Salmond harassment investigation
Police Scotland is “assessing” a formal complaint about the leak of the Scottish Government’s probe into harassment allegations against Alex Salmond.
Details of the investigation into the accusations from the two female civil servants were published in the Daily Record in August 2018 sending shockwaves across Scotland.
The Information Commissioner’s Office has previously said they had “sympathy” with the former first minister’s belief that the leak came from an employee of the Scottish Government, however they could find “no evidence that a third party or an employee from the Scottish Government unlawfully obtained or disclosed personal data relating to Mr Alex Salmond.”
Last week, just days before he launched his new political party, the ex-SNP leader said he was sure someone in the Scottish Government “was responsible for passing these details to the Daily Record newspaper.”
The ICO’s investigation did identify 23 members of staff who had knowledge of the investigation.
The government was fiercely criticised by the Holyrood harassment committee over the leak. In their final report, the cross-party group of MPs expressed concern “at how details of the complaints made their way into the press via the leak to the Daily Record.”
The report added: “The Committee’s view is that this was damaging for both the complainers and the former First Minister. The Committee notes that the former First Minister was at least able to issue a statement to the media refuting the allegations. However, the women who made the complaints had no control over this process nor a voice in it. The Committee has heard about the incredible toll that this has taken on Ms A and Ms B.
“The Committee is not in a position to judge how the information came to be in the public domain, however the fact is that it was made public and that is a matter of significant concern.
“Confidentiality of an investigation is of paramount importance and the leaking of such information is extremely serious. Should the identity of the person who leaked the information ever come to light, they should be held to account for their actions.”
The report by James Hamilton said the leak of the complaints to the press was not within his remit and should instead be referred to the police.
Salmond announced his intention to do just that last week when he revealed he was also pursuing legal action against the Scottish Government.
“I will accordingly now make that complaint to the police and allow them to discover who within the Scottish Government was responsible for passing these details to the Daily Record newspaper,” he said in a short statement.
He added: “I have every confidence that Police Scotland will pursue that matter with rigour.”
It’s understood a complaint was made over the weekend.
A Police Scotland spokesperson said: "We have a received a complaint regarding the potential unlawful disclosure of information and this is being assessed."
After Salmond’s initial statement, a Scottish government spokesman said: "For the avoidance of doubt, the Scottish government is clear that both an Information Commissioner's Office investigation and an internal leak inquiry found no evidence to support Mr Salmond's claims that there was any leak from the Scottish government about the complaints made against him."
During his evidence session to the Holryood harassment inquiry, the former first minister suggested that details of the probe into two complaints had been shared with the paper by someone in Nicola Sturgeon’s office.
He told MSPs that the government had initially wanted to put out a press statement revealing the complaints and the findings of the investigation on August 23, 2018.
However, he and his lawyers said they would launch an interdict in a bid to stop the sending of the media release.
That led to the government rowing back on plans to alert the press.
However, hours later the Daily Record contacted the former First Minister to say they had knowledge of the complaints.