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Alex Salmond could be forced to WITHDRAW his bombshell ‘evidence’

The Scottish Parliament has agreed to censor portions of Alex Salmond’s bombshell evidence accusing Nicola Sturgeon and her apparatchiks of a plot to throw him in jail for sexual assault.

Holyrood officials said they would remove parts of Salmond’s testimony after prosecutors said it risked contempt of court by enabling jigsaw identification of his accusers. 

Salmond’s legal team questioned the motives of the move to censor the testimony, which has been published on The Spectator website for two weeks, and said he could cancel what was due to be a blockbuster committee appearance tomorrow. 

Mr Salmond’s allies allege sexual assault allegations against him  – of which he was cleared – were part of a plot designed to prevent his political comeback and cooked up by Sturgeon’s allies in a climate of #MeToo allegations across the world. 

But in the internal power struggle that threatens to tear the SNP apart just ten weeks before a Scottish election that could pave the way to a second independence referendum, Miss Sturgeon insists the former first minister has ‘not a shred of evidence’ against her. 

The former first minister has already accused the Crown Office – the Scottish equivalent of the CPS – of withholding evidence that shows Sturgeon’s aides and top civil servants engaged in a ‘malicious’ conspiracy against him. 

Now his lawyer says the decision to censor his evidence is of “significant surprise and concern” and said the Crown Office’s intervention “only serves to reinforce” Mr Salmond’s his fears about prosecutors.

Publisher of the Spectator Andrew Neil said: ‘The important point to grasp here is that if the Crown Office succeeds in un-publishing Salmond’s submission then the Inquiry cannot consider it when it comes to finalising its conclusions. Devious.’ 

Two pieces of Salmond’s evidence were published on the Scottish government website yesterday. 

One, previously published by The Spectator, accuses Nicola Sturgeon of lying to Parliament by about when she first learned of an investigation into accusations of sexual assault. That will now be redacted.  

The second previously unreleased statement named Sturgeon’s husband and four other aides and civil servants and accused them of being complicit in a ‘malicious’ effort to bring sexual harassment and attempted rape charges against him of which he was cleared.   

The most serious risk to Miss Sturgeon in the unfolding drama is Mr Salmond’s claim in a separate statement she lied to the Scottish Parliament about when she knew about the investigation against him. If proven, she could be forced to resign.

In that statement Mr Salmond says his chief of staff met her on March 29, 2018, to discuss the probe – she later told the Scottish Parliament that she first learned of the probe on April 2.

Mr Salmond says this is a breach of the Ministerial Code, but the Scottish parliament said it will remove part of his statement because it risks identifying his accusers – despite being published on the Spectator website.

Also among his evidence is an email sent by Sturgeon’s chief of staff Liz Lloyd to Scotland’s top civil servant Leslie Evans saying Scottish government sexual harassment policy should be expanded to include former ministers.

The email, sent on November 17 2017, came 11 days after the first claims of sexual assault against Mr Salmond.

He says the ‘radical expansion’ of the policy ‘must have been inserted to allow the complaint against me to be prosecuted’. 

The former first minister's statement did not contain a knockout blow against Miss Sturgeon, who he accuses of being complicit in a 'malicious' effort to bring sexual harassment and attempted rape charges against him of which he was cleared

The former first minister’s statement did not contain a knockout blow against Miss Sturgeon, who he accuses of being complicit in a ‘malicious’ effort to bring sexual harassment and attempted rape charges against him of which he was cleared

He accuses Scottish prosecutors of withholding evidence proving Miss Sturgeon's aides conspired with civil servants to press ahead with taking the allegations against Mr Salmond to court despite legal advice he would be cleared

He accuses Scottish prosecutors of withholding evidence proving Miss Sturgeon's aides conspired with civil servants to press ahead with taking the allegations against Mr Salmond to court despite legal advice he would be cleared

He accuses Scottish prosecutors of withholding evidence proving Miss Sturgeon’s aides conspired with civil servants to press ahead with taking the allegations against Mr Salmond to court despite legal advice he would be cleared

SNP Chief Executive, Peter Murrell arrives to give evidence to a Scottish Parliament committee at Holyrood in December

SNP Chief Executive, Peter Murrell arrives to give evidence to a Scottish Parliament committee at Holyrood in December

SNP Chief Executive, Peter Murrell arrives to give evidence to a Scottish Parliament committee at Holyrood in December

Allegations, discussions, denials and a ‘forgotten’ key meeting between Sturgeon and Salmond

November 2017: Allegations regarding Alex Salmond’s behaviour are raised with the SNP by Sky News.

Nicola Sturgeon said she spoke to him about this – and he ‘denied it’. No further action was taken.

March 29, 2018: Ms Sturgeon meets Geoff Aberdein in her Scottish parliament office where she has admitted they discussed the possibility of a meeting with Mr Salmond. Ms Sturgeon – after initially forgetting about this meeting – says there was ‘the suggestion that the matter might relate to allegations of a sexual nature’.

April 2, 2018: Ms Sturgeon and Mr Salmond meet at the First Minister’s home. According to Ms Sturgeon, this is the first time she heard of the complaints made against him. Despite this, she has insisted that the matters discussed were party business.

April 23, 2018: Ms Sturgeon and Mr Salmond hold a ‘substantive’ phone discussion. During this call, Ms Sturgeon claims that Mr Salmond asked whether she would speak to Leslie Evans about ‘mediation’ with the complainants. A special adviser was in the room at the time.

June 6, 2018: Ms Sturgeon writes to Mrs Evans to inform her that she has held discussions with Mr Salmond.

June 7, 2018: Ms Sturgeon again meets Mr Salmond, this time in Aberdeen ahead of the SNP party conference.

July 14, 2018: Ms Sturgeon meets Mr Salmond at her home near Glasgow.

July 18, 2018: Ms Sturgeon and Mr Salmond speak again on the phone. Ms Sturgeon said that ‘by this time’ she was ‘anxious – as party leader and from the perspective of preparing my party for any potential public issue – to know whether his handling of the matter meant it was likely to become public in the near future.’

This is the last time Ms Sturgeon and Mr Salmond speak. During this time they also exchange a number of WhatsApp messages in which they discuss the affair – including Mr Salmond’s decision to seek a judicial review over the government’s probe into the two complaints. 

January 2019: Mr Salmond wins sexual harassment inquiry case against Scottish government and is awarded £500,000 in legal fees.  

March 23, 2020: Alex Salmond is cleared of all sexual assault charges and his supporters demanded a full inquiry into the Scottish Government’s handling of the scandal.

January 24, 2021: Speaking on the Andrew Marr show, Ms Sturgeon denies misleading the Scottish Parliament after ‘forgetting’ to tell MSPs about her meeting with Mr Salmond’s aide on March 29, 2018.

February 8, 2021: Peter Murrell, the SNP’s chief executive and the First Leader’s husband, is accused of a ‘dismal and shifty’ performance as he gave evidence to the inquiry on Zoom.

February 16, 2021: Mooted date for Ms Sturgeon to appear before the inquiry. 

Mr Salmond’s other explosive statement names five of Miss Sturgeon’s top aides and civil servants accusing them of colluding against him in a ‘malicious’ plot to have him charged with 13 counts of sexual assault.

He called for some of them to resign and claims their conduct could amount to a ‘conspiracy’ at the highest levels in Scottish government.

He claimed in the submission the ‘inescapable conclusion’ was that there was a ‘malicious and concerted’ attempt to see him removed from public life in Scotland. 

Miss Sturgeon’s husband and SNP chief executive Peter Murrell, Principal policy adviser Leslie Evans, chief of staff Liz Lloyd, compliance officer Ian McCann and chief operating officer Sue Ruddick were all complicit in efforts to damage his reputation, Mr Salmond says.

In his latest statement, Mr Salmond alleges that while probing sexual assault claims against him, SNP officials were also drafting the Fairness at Work Policy 2010.

 He claims Ms Lloyd drafted an amendment in November 2017 to tweak a policy to include ‘former Ministers, including from previous administrations regardless of Party’.

He makes the link between this email and the claims made against him by the female complainants – meaning he could be prosecuted.

He says there was also a political intervention when Miss Sturgeon and the Permanent Secretary agreed before December 2017 that she should be distanced from the policy and only told when it was done.

Mr Salmond claims: ‘When the Permanent Secretary agreed with the First Minister that she should take over as key decision maker in terms of this new policy she was already aware of the developing complaints against me.

‘Therefore she put herself at the centre of a policy in the full knowledge that I would likely be the first (and perhaps only given the subsequent declaration of illegality) subject of its implementation. Doing so from a position of already being tainted by bias is an extraordinary decision.’

He also says the Scottish government was advised by external counsel in October 2018 that the ‘balance of probability’ was that ‘they were heading for likely defeat’ in its case against him.

He adds: ‘And yet, despite that advice and the cost of hundreds of thousands of pounds of avoidable legal fees, the Scottish Government pressed on with a case they expected to lose.’

He said: ‘However, underlying all of this and perhaps the most serious issue of all is the complete breakdown of the necessary barriers which should exist between Government, political party and indeed the prosecution authorities in any country which abides by the rule of law.’

Mr Salmond faced 13 charges including one of attempted rape, one of intent to rape, nine charges of sexual assault and two of indecent assault.

The ex-SNP leader was cleared of all charges by a jury following an 11-day trial at the High Court in Edinburgh.

The jury returned not guilty verdicts on 12 charges and returned a not proven verdict on a charge of sexual assault with intent to rape.

The former first minister was charged with indecently assaulting Woman A, a senior government official, in 2008.

Leslie Evans, Permanent Secretary to the Scottish Government, is pictured as she gives evidence at Holyrood to a Scottish Parliament committee examining the handling of harassment allegations against former first minister Alex Salmond

Leslie Evans, Permanent Secretary to the Scottish Government, is pictured as she gives evidence at Holyrood to a Scottish Parliament committee examining the handling of harassment allegations against former first minister Alex Salmond

Leslie Evans, Permanent Secretary to the Scottish Government, is pictured as she gives evidence at Holyrood to a Scottish Parliament committee examining the handling of harassment allegations against former first minister Alex Salmond

Liz Lloyd, Nicola Sturgeon's Chief of Staff, at an SNP event at which Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon set out the next steps in the SNP's campaign for Scottish independence, on January 31, 2020

Liz Lloyd, Nicola Sturgeon's Chief of Staff, at an SNP event at which Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon set out the next steps in the SNP's campaign for Scottish independence, on January 31, 2020

Liz Lloyd, Nicola Sturgeon’s Chief of Staff, at an SNP event at which Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon set out the next steps in the SNP’s campaign for Scottish independence, on January 31, 2020

On occasions in June and July 2008 in Glasgow, he was accused of indecently assaulting her by kissing her on the mouth and touching her buttocks and breast over her clothing; and sexually assaulting her in either December 2010 or December 2011 in Ego nightclub in Edinburgh, by touching her arms and hips over her clothing.

He was charged with indecently assaulting Woman B at Bute House, the Scottish First Minister’s official residence, in October or November 2010.

She had accused him of repeatedly seizing her by the wrists, pulling her towards him and trying to kiss her.

Woman C accused him of assaulting her in a car in Edinburgh during February 2011 by touching her leg with his hand over her clothing, but said that was ‘impossible’ with others in the car who would have seen the incident take place.

Prosecutors charged him with sexually assaulting Woman D on a number of occasions between 2011 and 2013 at various locations, including Bute House and the Scottish Parliament building.

Between May 2011 and June 2013, he was alleged to have sexually assaulted her by touching her buttocks over her clothing and stroking her arms and hair. 

Woman F claimed he assaulted her at Bute House in December 2013 and sexually assaulting her in either November or December 2013.

He was accused of making her sit on a bed, lying on top of her, struggling with her and pulling up her dress with intent to rape her.

Woman G – a Scottish Government official said he twice assaulted her – once in Glasgow during 2012 and secondly in Bute House in April 2014. 

She accused him of smacking her buttocks at a Glasgow restaurant in March 2012. Salmond said: ‘It didn’t happen.’ 

Meanwhile Woman H said in 2014 Salmond sexually assaulted her attempting to rape her the same year. 

In June of that year at Bute House, he had been alleged to have sexually assaulted Woman H by removing his clothing and underwear, pushing her onto a bed, kneeling over her, pinning her to the bed, lying naked on top of her and then trying to rape her.

The former SNP chief was charged with sexually assaulting Woman J – a party worker – in Bute House in September 2014. 

Kirk Torrance, 38, then the SNP’s new media strategist and now a technology consultant, told the court he’d seen Woman J at an SNP office the day after the alleged sexual assault.

Asked if she ‘seemed upset, Torrance told the court that Woman J seemed ‘quite the opposite actually’ and appeared to be in good spirits.

Sue Ruddick (pictured) was also complicit in efforts to damage his reputation, Mr Salmond says

Sue Ruddick (pictured) was also complicit in efforts to damage his reputation, Mr Salmond says

Sue Ruddick (pictured) was also complicit in efforts to damage his reputation, Mr Salmond says

The ninth alleged victim – Woman K – said he assaulted her at Stirling Castle in November 2014, by touching her buttock with his hand over her clothing, while they had a photo taken together at the event.

Mr Salmond was cleared of all charges.

In his submission to the inquiry, Mr Salmond said had it not been for the jury system, a campaign to remove him from public life might have ‘succeeded’.

In a different submission, Ms Lloyd ardently rejected being part of a conspiracy and said this was ‘not substantiated by any evidence’.

She also denied leaking details of a Scottish Government inquiry into the allegations to the Daily Record newspaper.

According to Mr Salmond, the ‘most obvious and compelling evidence of such conduct’ is contained in materials the Crown Office ‘refuses to release’.

He said: ‘That decision is disgraceful.’

Mr Salmond has called for evidence he obtained ahead of his criminal trial – but was not used in court – to be released by prosecutors, but they have refused.

He said such a move ‘makes it impossible for the Committee to complete its task; and that the ‘only beneficiaries of that decision to withhold evidence are those involved in conduct to damage (and indeed imprison) me’.

Mr Salmond also accuses Mr Murrell of deploying ‘his senior staff to recruit and persuade staff and ex-staff members to submit police complaints’.

He said: ‘This activity was being co-ordinated with special advisers and was occurring after the police investigation had started and after I ceased to be a member of the SNP.’

Mr Murrell has previously denied there was a conspiracy against Mr Salmond.

Mr Salmond has also used his final submission before appearing at Holyrood to demand resignations over the affair, hitting out at the ‘real cost’ to the Scottish people which he believes to be ‘many millions’ of pounds.

He said: ‘No one in this process has uttered the simple words necessary on occasions to renew and refresh democratic institutions – ‘I resign’.’

But last night Miss Sturgeon claimed there was ‘not a shred of evidence’ of a conspiracy.

She told STV News: ‘He has made claims, or he appears to be making claims or suggestions there was some kind of conspiracy against him or concerted campaign against him.

‘There is not a shred of evidence about that, so this is the opportunity for him to replace insinuation and assertion with evidence. I don’t believe he can because I know what he is saying is not true.

‘If he can’t provide that evidence he should stop making these claims about people because they’re not fair.’

She refutes Mr Salmond’s claims that she did breach the ministerial code. She added: ‘The Scottish Government, of course, made a mistake in this. But this week it’s an opportunity for Alex Salmond – I hope he will come to the committee on Wednesday.

An SNP spokesman said: ‘This is just more assertion without a shred of credible evidence.’

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross told MailOnline: ‘The SNP have used every trick in the book to subvert the Scottish Parliament and protect Nicola Sturgeon.

‘Preserving the anonymity of the female complainers is paramount.

‘However, Parliament must have the power to hold the SNP government to account for its actions which failed these women and cost taxpayers at least £1million.

‘There are serious questions about the dual role of the Lord Advocate as a Scottish Government minister and head of what is supposed to be an independent and impartial prosecution service.

‘The people of Scotland deserve so much better than the SNP sleaze of Sturgeon and Salmond.’

Andrew Neil, chairman of the Spectator which went to the High Court in Edinburgh to have Mr Salmond’s evidence published, tweeted: ‘Using lame and bogus jigsaw identification excuses, it’s almost as if the Crown Office was acting on behalf of Scot Gov to stop important/embarrassing information from reaching the public domain, where it belongs.’

He added: ‘The important point to grasp here is that if the Crown Office succeeds in un-publishing Salmond’s submission then the Inquiry cannot consider it when it comes to finalising its conclusions. Devious.’

Yesterday, Rape Crisis Scotland demanded the Scottish parliament should convene an ’emergency’ meeting to rethink the decision to publish Mr Salmond’s submission.

Chief executive Sandy Brindley warned it was ‘inexplicable’ Holyrood chiefs would ‘knowingly publish’ material which could risk identifying someone who had complained about Mr Salmond.

Last night a spokesman for Mr Salmond said: ‘We have now reached agreement with the parliamentary clerks on the publication of Mr Salmond’s evidence.

‘This clears the way for Mr Salmond to attend an oral hearing on Wednesday.’

Ms Sturgeon is expected to give evidence at the inquiry next week.

Nicola Sturgeon’s aides who Alex Salmond accuses of being complicit in efforts to damage his reputation

Nicola Sturgeon’s husband and SNP Chief Executive Peter Murrell

Peter Murrell has been chief executive of the SNP since 1999.

The 56-year-old was educated at Craigmount High School and Glasgow University before moving into politics.

He later worked in the Banff and Buchan constituency office of former First Minister Alex Salmond, who he now faces accusations from.

He met Ms Sturgeon in 1988 at the constituency office and they became a couple in 2003.

The pair got married in July 2010 at Òran Mór Glasgow.

Chief of Staff Liz Lloyd

Nicola Sturgeon’s Chief of Staff Liz Lloyd is no stranger to controversy.

Only last month the special adviser was blasted for tweeting criticism of Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

As a civil service she is supposed to remain apolitical.

The rules say she ‘must not take public part in political controversy’, including on ‘social media’.

Now she is also wrapped up in accusations she was part of a ‘witch hunt’ to destroy Alex Salmond.

Ms Lloyd has been at the top of Scottish politics for nearly a decade – being a Spad for nine years and chief of staff for six years.

Before that she was head of the SNP’s media operations for four years and an adviser to MSP Jim Mathers for three years earlier.

Edinburgh University educated Lloyd studied an MA in American studies and an MSc in European and comparative public policy before entering politics.

Her LinkedIn calls for: ‘a strong, successful and independent Scotland.’

Permanent Secretary Leslie Evans

The head of Scotland’s civil service could be sacked from the role as MSPs prepare to ‘throw her under the bus’.

Permanent Secretary Leslie Evans is expected to be slammed in a report on Holyrood’s handling of the Alex Salmond affair.

There are reportedly plans underway to get Ms Evans out of office earlier than her scheduled leave next spring.

A source told The Sunday Times MSPs on the special committee are ‘preparing to throw her under a bus’.

Ms Evans is a 62-year-old civil servant from Northern Ireland who moved to Sheffield as a child before studying music at Liverpool University.

She started living in Scotland in 1985 and joined the government in 2000 after 20 years working in local authorities.

She was the first woman to land the top civil service job – from May 2015 – and earns around £175,000 a year.

Chief Operating Officer Sue Ruddick 

The mother of three is the chief operating officer for the Scottish National Party.

She worked in London as chief of staff for the SNP Westminster Group before heading up to Scotland.

Ms Ruddick had before that been a parliamentary press and research assistant after being a part time swimming teacher.

The Aberdeen University educated politico has a master’s degree in history and also took courses in German, Spanish, sociology, psychology and international relations.

Her LinkedIn profile says: ‘A pro-active and talented Communications Professional with extensive experience in corporate image development and business administration.

‘Proven track record of successful design, implementation and management of innovative communication strategies leading to significant increases in efficiency and gains for the company.’

Compliance Officer Ian McCann

Ian McCann is the point of contact at SNP Headquarters in Edinburgh, according to the party’s website.

His Twitter bio says: ‘Two kids, two chins, eclectic taste in film and music. I mostly avoid discussion of politics, but if I do, I reserve the right to joke.’

He often retweets First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and is followed by SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford.    

Alex Salmond’s submission to the Harassment Complaints Committee last night

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Submission Alex Salmond

Introduction

This is my fourth submission to the Parliamentary Inquiry. It should be read in

addition to, and in conjunction with, the three other previous submissions. Those prior

submissions relate to the application of the procedure (phase 2), the Judicial Review

(phase 3) and the Ministerial Code (phase 4).

This final document accordingly includes an introduction and overview of matters

linking each of the four individual submissions

It thereafter includes submissions on

1. phase 1 of the Inquiry.

2. the question of ‘conspiracy’

3. Crown Office

Documentary evidence exists to support all of the factual statements made in this

submission. I have sought to provide that to the Committee where it is within my

power to do so. Despite repeated requests, however, Crown Office has not provided

the Committee with the critical evidence which was unable to be led in the High

Court. Perhaps even more concerning is the direction from Crown Office that I face

the prospect of criminal prosecution for even referring to the existence of such

evidence or specifying (even in broad terms) what that evidence is. One of their letters

even suggested that the Committee’s use of such documentation might also constitute

a criminal offence

My hope and belief, expressed outside the High Court in Edinburgh after my

acquittal, was that documents which were not put before the jury and the public would

be published in the course of this Inquiry. To date, and despite the centrality of those

documents to the remit of this Committee and the overwhelming public interest in

their publication, Crown Office continue to veto any such publication under threat of

prosecution.

Despite that deplorable prohibition, I can confirm that all of the material factual

statements made in this submission are supported by documentary evidence. Where I

am legally allowed to direct the Committee to such documents, I will be happy to do

so.

Overview

The Committee has achieved progress in the volume of documentation supplied.

However it has been fundamentally obstructed in three key areas.

First on the legal advice which the Government received from external counsel in the

Judicial Review. In normal circumstances the extraordinary discovery by this

Committee that both Senior and Junior Counsel to the Government threatened

resignation because the case they were being asked to argue was unstateable would

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have been headline news. However, despite two parliamentary votes, the full advice

from Counsel hasn’t been provided to the Committee. It is extraordinary that the

Lord Advocate, who could sanction such advice being published, has refused to do so.

The legal provision for him to publish in the public interest is clear. Inexplicably, the

Lord Advocate has been able to simply refuse that request and to get away with doing

so in the face of the will of the Committee and of Parliament. Despite that, it appears

from what has emerged that by October 2018 external counsel advised the

Government that, on the balance of probability, they were heading for likely defeat.

And yet, despite that advice and the cost of hundreds of thousands of pounds of

avoidable legal fees, the Scottish Government pressed on with a case they expected to

lose. This submission explains why.

Second the restriction arises as a result of the failure of the Government to provide

documents from when the Judicial Review started in August 2018 until the Scottish

Government finally conceded in January 2019. There were 17 meetings with external

Counsel, daily meetings on progress of defending the Judicial Review (according to

Paul Cackette, acting Solicitor to the Scottish Government during the case) and thrice

weekly meetings according to Ms Judith Mackinnon, the Investigating Officer.

However, the Committee has yet to publish (or to my knowledge see) a single

relevant minute, email, text message or ‘One Note’ from that entire period relating to

those meetings despite being assured that such documents would be provided. Of

particular interest to the Committee would be the extent to which various parties were

informed of the progress of the case and in particular whether the Lord Advocate’s

expressed views on ‘sisting’ (pausing) the Judicial Review pending the criminal case

were discussed, how widely and with whom.

Thirdly, the crown response to the section 23 request has hindered rather than assisted

the Committee. The information provided was neither sought nor publishable by the

Committee. Those in Crown Office providing that information must have been well

aware of that. However, text messages which could be properly considered and

published and which have been part of the Committee’s questioning and would bear

directly on the veracity of evidence given under oath to this Committee have been

withheld. The blocking of the Committee in this matter and others is nothing

whatsoever to do with protecting the anonymity of complainants, which I support and

have upheld at every stage in this process. Rather, it is a matter of the shielding of

some of the most powerful people in the country who are acutely aware of how

exposed they would become.

The Parliamentary Committee has already heard evidence of activities by civil

servants, special advisers, Ministers and SNP officials which taken individually could

be put down to incompetence, albeit on an epic scale. However taken together, and

over such a prolonged period, it becomes impossible to explain such conduct as

inadvertent co-incidence. The inescapable conclusion is of a malicious and concerted

attempt to damage my reputation and remove me from public life in Scotland. It is an

attempt which would, in fact, have succeeded but for the protection of the court and

jury system and in particular the Court of Session and the High Court of Justiciary.

However, underlying all of this and perhaps the most serious issue of all is the

complete breakdown of the necessary barriers which should exist between

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Government, political party and indeed the prosecution authorities in any country

which abides by the rule of law.

In each of the written submissions under Phases 1-4 of the Inquiry remit I have sought

to explore those themes, and identify evidence to assist the Committee in doing its job

holding the Executive to account.

The success, or failure, of this Committee in doing so will have a very significant

bearing on public confidence in the ability of Parliament more generally to expose

failures across Government. The ramifications of a Committee unable to complete its

work due to delay, obstruction and refusal on the part of those under investigation are

both profound and chilling.

Phase 1

In relation to Phase 1, I am asked for evidence regarding the development of the

policy.

I would make the following general comments, on which I will be very happy to

expand in oral evidence.

1) Fairness at Work

The Committee has heard evidence on the origins of the Fairness at Work Policy 2010

(‘FaW’). As First Minister I approved the policy and, in contrast to any other

witnesses before this Inquiry, I was actually involved in its development.

Implementation of the policy was achieved with the co-operation of the trade unions

and I was pleased to be the First Minister who sanctioned its adoption.

As Appendix 1 from a Management Board meeting of 23 November 2009 makes

clear, it was not evolved as a result of specific complaints about Ministers at the time

but reflected long standing trade union grievances about Ministerial Offices stretching

back to the days of the Scottish Office. FaW was the first workplace policy to include

Ministers and I approved it on the basis that it was made compatible with the statute

based Ministerial Code in which the First Minister is the final decision maker on the

fate of a Minister facing a complaint. This was done by placing the Deputy First

Minister in the deliberative part of the policy. The result was that only after a

recommendation had been made would the First Minister finally decide. This was

aimed at avoiding him or her judging twice on the same case. The policy was

negotiated over a period of 18 months, was carefully constructed, balanced and

lawful. It was well received by all concerned.

In the event there were no formal complaints made against any Minister under the

policy and thus it was never invoked. Specifically and to my knowledge the present

First Minister was never informed about any complaints against me because there

were none. Similarly I was never informed about any complaints against her or any

other Minister under the terms of this policy because there were none.

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In the evidence of Ms Richards (25th August 2020) she revealed that there have been

two complaints under FaW against current Ministers since 2017. Presumably these

will have been dealt with under the FaW provisions including the involvement of

John Swinney as Deputy First Minister.

This Committee is charged with finding out what went wrong. It should also look at

what can be done now to put matters right.

Fairness at Work, of which the Permanent Secretary admitted in her evidence (in

response to Ms Mitchell on 18th August 2020) to ‘not being an expert’, is in reality a

carefully considered policy which is still in operation for the civil service and for

serving Ministers with regard to bullying complaints. The Permanent Secretary’s

extraordinary claim in the same evidence session that it does not cover harassment

can only be a result of her admitted lack of familiarity with the policy. In reality it

covers this explicitly in paragraph 3.2.1. As recently as December 2017 FaW was

hailed by the unions in a letter to the Permanent Secretary as an achievement ‘of

which we all should rightly be proud and something that sets up as being more

assiduous than our counterparts down south’ ( FDA Convener)

FaW is legal, not illegal. It is procedurally fair, not unfair. It was carefully considered,

not rushed. It achieved the central longstanding workforce ambition of having

Ministers on the same footing as civil service managers. No doubt it can be updated

and improved but the current position of limbo is ridiculous.

The concept of a civil service investigation into people over which they have no

legitimate jurisdiction is nonsensical and the idea of passing the results to the relevant

political party for action is self- evidently ludicrous. If legal action wasn’t taken

against the government it would inevitably follow against any political party which

attempted to proceed with any form of disciplinary action on such an unlawful basis.

Fairness At Work should be reinstated at the earliest opportunity pending the Dunlop

review.

2) The Development of the 2017 Procedure

The Committee has already clearly established that there was no discussion or

information presented to either Parliament or Cabinet on the 31st October 2017 of

extending work place policies to former Ministers. Nor was there any suggestion that

this should be done in the Head of the Civil Service’s letter of 3rd November 2017.

And of course it was not carried forward in any other administration in the U.K. and

was opposed by of the UK Cabinet Office when they were briefly consulted

on the proposal later in November 2017. As she wryly asked the Scottish Government

at that time, was there also to be such a retrospective policy for former civil servants?

Nor was the new policy signalled in any of the internal communications with staff

until February 2018.

The claim of the Government is that it came about independently from James Hynd

who was tasked with drafting the policy and delivered the first draft applying ONLY

[Redacted] [Redacted]

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to Former Ministers on November 8th 2017. However the previous day Ms

McKinnon had circulated a ‘routemap’ of a policy which also suggested applying to

former Ministers. Mr Hynd reacted to that on 8th November saying that ‘neither of

the pathways involving Ministers look right’.

It is stretching credibility to believe that this radical departure from all previous policy

in the Scottish (or any other) administration was simultaneously and independently

dreamed up by two separate civil servants. This is despite Mr Hynd telling the

Committee on August 25th 2020 that he started with ‘a blank sheet of paper’. In one

of the many letters to the Committee from civil servants correcting their evidence, Ms

Mackinnon conceded on October 31 2020 that these things were ‘happening in

parallel’. Indeed they were and there was a common factor. That common factor is

the Permanent Secretary Leslie Evans whose office was deeply involved in directing

the work of both James Hynd on his policy and Ms Mackinnon on her route map.

In addition we know now that Ms Evans went to see the First Minister on November

6th about her information that Sky News were about to run a story concerning

Edinburgh airport. I am now in the position to know exactly what this issue was about

and the Permanent Secretary’s fears that it was about to break as a major story were

groundless. However in the febrile atmosphere of November 2017 a sense of

proportion and due process was in short supply.

In reality I had spent 30 years in public life in Scotland and for most of that time was

certainly the most investigated person in the country by the press. It is inherently

unlikely that misconduct had remained unreported and undiscovered over such a

period. Mr Murrell confirmed in his evidence to this Committee that he had never

heard of any such complaint against me in my entire time in politics and the First

Minister confirmed this on BBC television to Andrew Marr on 7

th October 2018.

Regardless, the chronology revealed by the evidence tells us that the Permanent

Secretary briefed the First Minister on 6

th November 2017 on the proposed story

involving Edinburgh Airport. Further, the Permanent Secretary was contacted by

Barbara Allison about a separate concern from a former civil servant on November 8th

2017. Having briefed the First Minister on the first of these it might be considered

unlikely that she did not brief her on the second. In that context, the notion that a

policy instructed immediately afterwards which specifically, and uniquely, extended

to cover allegations against former ministers is co-incidental and unrelated is hardly

sustainable.

If further confirmation of the basis for the policy were needed, the Committee has

evidence of two directly political interventions at this stage.

First, the Chief of Staff to the First Minister drafted a specific amendment on 17

November 2017 which amended the commissioning letter instructing the policy

proposing the wording ‘but also former Ministers, including from previous

administrations regardless of Party’. This was in an email to Leslie Evans’ Private

Secretary. It is impossible to accept that such a radical expansion of the jurisdiction of

the Scottish Government to cover not just former ministers of the current

administration but also those of previous administrations (many of whom are no

6

longer even in elected office never mind in Government) was not specifically inserted

to allow the complaint against me to be prosecuted.

The second political intervention was when the First Minister and the Permanent

Secretary reached agreement, perhaps at their meeting on November 29th but certainly

before December 5th 2017, that the policy should be recast in order that FM should be

taken out of the policy proper and only consulted or even informed after the process

was complete. This was a fundamental change in the policy.

The timing of this is significant. When the Permanent Secretary agreed with the First

Minister that she should take over as key decision maker in terms of this new policy

she was already aware of the developing complaints against me. Therefore she put

herself at the centre of a policy in the full knowledge that I would likely be the first

(and perhaps only given the subsequent declaration of illegality) subject of its

implementation. Doing so from a position of already being tainted by bias is an

extraordinary decision.

Despite her protestations to the contrary the Permanent Secretary was chiefly

responsible for the pursuit of an unlawful policy which has cost the Scottish people

millions of pounds.

In her letter of 21st June 2018 to Levy and McRae she describes the policy as

‘established by me’. She claimed ownership of it then, but not now. When asked at

the Committee she said ‘there seems to have come into being a tradition of calling it

my procedure. It is not; it is a Scottish Government procedure and one that has been

agreed by Cabinet..’ In fact, this procedure was never even seen by Cabinet or

Parliament.

It was established by Ms Evans.

In her presentations before the Committee, the Permanent Secretary still seems

oblivious to the scale of the disaster she has inflicted on all concerned or the enormity

of the misjudgements she has made.

The view that she should have resigned on 8th January 2019, the day that Lord

Pentland’s interlocutor judged the policy Ms Evans established and the actions taken

as ‘unlawful’, ‘unfair’ and ‘tainted by apparent bias’ is widely shared not least by

Cabinet Ministers. The damage she has done to the reputation of the civil service is

very significant. In my view, any person conscious of the responsibility of holding

high office would have resigned long ago. Instead Ms Evans’ contract was extended.

3) The role of the Investigating Officer

As the Committee has already discovered the ‘prior contact’ of the Investigating

Officer with the complainants was not ‘welfare’, as was indicated to Parliament, but

was specifically contact about emerging complaints, weeks before the policy under

which they were to be pursued was even approved.

The Committee has already established that complainants were informed that Ms

McKinnon would be appointed the Investigating Officer in early December 2017,

7

long before complaints were actually made. The Committee has further established

that the draft policy was even shared with one complainant for her comment and that

Ms Mackinnon was in contact with both complainants to discuss the basis on which

future complaints might be submitted under the policy.

Documentation which finally emerged at the Commission and Diligence ordered by

the Court of Session at the end of December 2018 demonstrated that the Government

pleadings were false in terms of the nature of this contact. This has been admitted by

the Lord Advocate in his evidence to the Inquiry on 8

th September 2020. Again, such

conduct appears to carry no sanction. These are serious matters, especially so for a

Government making statements to a public court.

For example the ‘OneNote’ from Judith McKinnon dated January 9th 2018, and

revealed as a result of the Commission process, speaks to ‘changing’ the position of a

reluctant complainant, the sharing of complaints, and of it ‘being better to get the

policy finalised and approved before formal complaint comes in’ and of not telling

the FFM until we are ‘ready’. It is this information that was completely at odds with

the government pleadings in the Judicial Review and indeed stands in stark contrast

with the oral evidence presented to the Committee.

These practices are not just wrong, they are an affront to the principles which

underpin workplace and human resources policy across the country. The Committee

has made reference to ACAS guidance at various stages of the Inquiry. How such

conduct could even be contemplated by an individual employed at significant public

expense and with a string of HR qualifications remains to be explained.

Watching the evidence before the Committee, it is apparent to me that even after

having conduct declared illegal in the Court of Session, those at fault in the civil

service still cannot accept the fact that they did something seriously wrong. In reality

behaving unlawfully is as serious as it gets for any public servant.

The repeated claim that the terminology somehow changed for the first to the final

drafts of the procedure thus causing confusion for those implementing the policy is

not just irrelevant (since it is only the final version that matters) it is also untrue.

In fact one of the very few unchanged provisions in the policy as it went through

numerous drafts and redrafts between November 8th to the final iteration on

December 20 2017 was that the Senior Officer/ Investigating Officer should have ‘no

prior involvement’.

Nor is it credible that the claim that the need for impartiality of an investigating

officer or equivalent was misunderstood. On the contrary, both James Hynd (10th

November 2017) offering 3 names at ‘arms length’ and Judith McKinnon (7th

November 2017) seeking to engage an ‘independent party to investigate’ recognised

this at an early stage.

Whether that person came from the broader civil service or outside it is secondary.

Perceived freedom from bias is an easily understood concept which is well

established in common law and in workplace policy. The appointment of Judith

McKinnon in this light was always wrong and is incomprehensible particularly in the

8

face of the fact that she has confirmed before this Committee that the nature of her

prior contact with the complainants was well known and indeed sanctioned among her

colleagues and line managers.

When the fact of it was discovered by the Government’s external Counsel (and even

after the duty of candour was explained to government lawyers by them on November

2nd and then by the court on November 6

th

, both 2018) the attempt was still made in

pleadings to present it as ‘welfare’ contact.

The documents which demonstrated this to be false had to be extracted from the

Government by a Commission and Diligence procedure under the authority of the

court as granted by Lord Pentland. The documents then produced under that

procedure emerged despite the Government being willing to certify to the Court that

these documents simply did not exist. That conduct is outrageous for a Government.

At the Commission itself, Senior Counsel for the Government (himself blameless for

the debacle) felt compelled to apologise to the court repeatedly as new batches of

documents emerged.

It is highly probable that had this documentation not been concealed from the court

(and from the Governments own counsel) the falsity of the Government’s pleadings

would have been avoided. The fact that even after the Government case collapsed,

misinformation then appeared in both a press release from the Permanent Secretary

and the First Minister’s statement to Parliament of 8th January 2019 speaks to an

organisation unable and unwilling to admit the truth even after a catastrophic defeat,

the terms of which they had conceded to the Court of Session.

The interests of the complainants

I also want to make a submission about the claims by the Scottish Government to

have promoted the interests of the women who raised complaints. That is, on the

evidence before the Committee, clearly false.

The Permanent Secretary claimed to the Committee that the interests of the

complainants were paramount in the Government thinking. This is very far from the

case.

The complainants were brought into the process by conduct ‘bordering on

encouragement’ as it was submitted by my Senior Counsel to Lord Pentland in the

Judicial Review

The complainants were assured that they would be in control of the process and that

any police involvement would be their choice.

This assurance has been stipulated from the earliest origins of the policy (eg Nicola

Richards’ email to Permanent Secretary of 23 November 2017) and remained in place

until the Permanent Secretary countermanded it in her instruction to Ms Richards to

send her decision report to the Crown Agent in August 2018, a move taken against the

direct wishes of the complainants.

9

They were offered the option of making ‘anonymous complaints’ for which there is

no provision in the policy. However, when it came to actually protecting the

anonymity of the complainants through a court order in the Judicial Review in

October 2018 the Government was not even represented by Counsel in court. It was,

in fact, me who instructed Counsel to seek that anonymity on the part of the women

concerned.

The investigation was carried out against the advice of the police who pointed out that

the Scottish Government were not competent to conduct the investigation. This has

been made available to the Committee in the police evidence from the Chief

Constable.

The reports to the Crown Office (instead of the police) were made against the express

wishes of both complainants and in direct conflict with the terms of the policy at

paragraph 19.

The leak of the story to the Daily Record on August 23 2018 was made with no

consideration of the impact on the complainants, impact which the Permanent

Secretary described in her evidence as causing considerable distress to all

concerned. That, of course, was in itself in direct contravention of the confidentiality

of the process promised to the complainants, and also to me.

However, it had been the Permanent Secretary’s own intention, despite police advice

to the contrary, to issue a press statement confirming the fact of the complaints on

Thursday 23 August 2018.

This Committee’s remit is to examine the actions of those in authority. Accordingly

the conduct of the Permanent Secretary and the civil servants and special advisers

involved is important. To claim, as the Scottish Government has done, that the wishes

and welfare of those who had made complaints were central to the decision making is

demonstrably untrue.

The leak to the Daily Record

In my view, the circumstances of the leak of the details of the complaints to the Daily

Record on 23rd/24th August 2018 should be thoroughly examined. It is highly likely

that the leak came from within the Scottish Government and, in all likelihood, from

one of the Special Advisers to the First Minister. The background facts may assist

The Permanent Secretary instructed her staff to send her Decision Report to the

Crown Agent on or about August 21st 2018

The Crown Agent, according to the police informed them of the Government’s

intention to release a story of the fact of the complaints to the press and the Chief

Constable and another senior officer advised against it and refused to accept a copy of

the report. We know, therefore, that the desire of the Scottish Government to get these

matters into the public domain is fully supported by evidence.

Despite this police advice, two days later the Government informed my legal team

they intended to release a statement at 5pm on Thursday 23 August 2018. We advised

10

that we would interdict the statement pending our Judicial Review petition and the

statement was withdrawn. On the strength of that undertaking, we didn’t require to

seek interdict.

We were then informed at around 4pm that the Daily Record newspaper had phoned

the Scottish Government press office with knowledge of the story but had no

confirmation. At 8pm, the Record phoned and then emailed at 8.16pm claiming

confirmation had now been given and broke the story at 10pm. The second story they

printed on Saturday 23rd August 2018 contained specific details from the complaints

and demonstrates that they also had access to the Permanent Secretary’s decision

report or an extract from it.

This leak was (according to the ICO) prima facie criminal, deeply damaging to my

interests and those of the complainants and a direct contravention of the assurances of

confidentiality given to all. After I formally complained to the ICO, the conclusion of

the ICO reviewer assessing these facts was that she was ‘sympathetic to the thesis

that the leak came from a Government employee’. The only reason no further action

could be taken was because the specific individual could not be identified without

police investigation. I intend to return to that police complaint when this Committee

has concluded its review. I should say that I am confident that I know the identity of

those involved in the leak.

John Somers, The Principal Private Secretary to the First Minister confirmed that her

office had received a copy of the Permanent Secretary’s report in evidence on 1st

December 2020. However, that evidence was then corrected to say that it had not

been received. However, that is difficult to reconcile with the ICO review report

(paragraph 4.8) which list the PPS, and therefore The Private Office as one of the

stakeholders ‘who has access to the internal misconduct investigation report’.

It is unlikely that a leak to the Daily Record came from mainstream civil service. The

overwhelming likelihood is that it came from a Special Adviser to the First Minister

who had access to the report or an extract from it which was the basis of the Daily

Record story of August 25th 2018.

The question of ‘conspiracy’

It has been a matter of considerable public interest whether there was ‘a conspiracy’. I

have never adopted the term but note that the Cambridge English Dictionary defines it

as ‘the activity of secretly planning with other people to do something bad or illegal.’

I leave to others the question of what is, or is not, a conspiracy but am very clear in

my position that the evidence supports a deliberate, prolonged, malicious and

concerted effort amongst a range of individuals within the Scottish Government and

the SNP to damage my reputation, even to the extent of having me imprisoned.

That includes, for the avoidance of doubt, Peter Murrell (Chief Executive), Ian

McCann (Compliance officer) and Sue Ruddick (Chief Operating Officer) of the SNP

together with Liz Lloyd, the First Minister’s Chief of Staff. There are others who, for

legal reasons, I am not allowed to name.

11

The most obvious and compelling evidence of such conduct is contained within the

material crown office refuses to release. That decision is frankly disgraceful. Refusing

to allow the Committee to see that material both denies me the opportunity to put the

full truth before the Committee and the public, and makes it impossible for the

Committee to complete its task on a full sight of the relevant material. The only

beneficiaries of that decision to withhold evidence are those involved in conduct

designed to damage (and indeed imprison) me.

From a very early stage in the Judicial Review the Government realised that they

were at risk of losing. By October they were told by external counsel that on the

balance of probability they would likely lose. This is the legal advice they have

hidden from the Committee in defiance of two parliamentary votes.

As the Committee has heard in evidence there were 17 meetings of the Committee

formed to monitor and plan the Scottish Government defence of the Judicial Review

between August 2018 and January 2019. Paul Cackette in his evidence said that there

were daily meetings while Ms Mackinnon suggested three times a week. Despite this

information being offered at the evidence session of 1

st December no information has

been received by the Committee of any of these meetings. I believe there have to be

such emails which show the Lord Advocate’s advice on the possibilities of sisting

(pausing) the Judicial Review behind the criminal case. The advantage of doing so in

a context where the Judicial Review was likely to be lost was clear. Any adverse

comment or publicity about the illegality of the Scottish Government actions would

be swept away in the publicity of my arrest and subsequent criminal proceedings.

It became common knowledge in government, special advisers and the SNP that the

Judicial Review was in trouble for the Government and the hope was that police

action would mean that it never came to court, that the JR would be overtaken by the

criminal investigation.

In evidence Ms Allison on 15th September 2020 specifically denied that the Scottish

Government had any role in contacting potential witnesses or former civil servants

after the police investigation had started on August 23rd 2018. This is not true.

I enclose at appendix 2 a copy of an unsolicited email sent by Ms Allison herself to an

ex Scottish Government employee on August 27th who then received a further

unsolicited email from Ms Ruddick of the SNP the following day (appendix 3) The

individual concerned, who provided a defence statement, had never even been a

member of the SNP. I believe her contact details were given to Ms Allison by a

Government Special Adviser.

Another Special Adviser was in contact with the majority of people who thereafter

became complainants in the criminal trial, shortly after the story being leaked to the

Daily Record on August 23rd 2018.

In his evidence session of 8 February 2021 Mr Murrell spoke of the letter sent by the

FM round all SNP members on 27th August 2018. I pause briefly to note that despite

the email reaching 100,000 members, not one complaint about me was received in

response. However, what he did not disclose was the email round SNP staff and ex

staff members sent by his Chief Operating Officer from late August 2018 (enclosed as

12

appendix 3). This email was sent selectively. Some staff members were targeted and

sent it. Others were not.

The recruitment of names to receive this email provoked opposition. Appendix 4

shows the refusal of a senior member of the SNP administrative team at Westminster

to supply names to HQ. The staff member expressed the view that she was not

prepared to take part in an obvious ‘witch-hunt’ which would be incompatible with

her professional responsibilities as a lawyer. At Appendix 5 I enclose the terms of an

affidavit of the staff member who has agreed to have it shared with the Committee.

What is clear is that even at the time of the initial trawl for potentially supportive

individuals, there was profound disquiet about the ethics and legality of the approach.

In addition to advocating the ‘pressurising’ of the police (those text messages are

public and before the Committee), Mr Murrell deployed his senior staff to recruit and

persuade staff and ex staff members to submit police complaints. This activity was

being co-ordinated with special advisers and was occurring after the police

investigation had started and after I ceased to be a member of the SNP. From the

description of the material released to the Committee under section 23 it is clear that

any supporting evidence establishing this point was not shared with the Committee by

the crown office. Why?

It was clear that defeat in the Judicial Review would have severe consequences.

Cabinet Ministers thought it should lead to the resignation of the Permanent

Secretary. The Special Adviser most associated with the policy believed that her job

was in jeopardy and accordingly sought to change press releases in light of that. The

First Minister’s team felt threatened by the process as did the civil service. The

documentary evidence shows that special advisers were using civil servants and

working with SNP officials in a fishing expedition to recruit potential complainants.

This activity was taking place from late August 2018 to January 2019, after the police

investigation had started.

The Judicial Review cannot be viewed in isolation. The effect of it, and its likely

result of a defeat for the Scottish Government led to the need to escalate these matters

to the police, even if that meant doing so entirely against the wishes of the two

women who had raised concerns. The Permanent Secretary’s ‘we’ve lost the battle

but not the war’ message of January 8th 2019 to Ms Allison whilst on holiday in the

Maldives is not (as she tried to claim) a general appeal for equality but rather shows

her knowledge that there were further proceedings to come and her confidence that

the criminal procedure would render such a loss in the Court of Session irrelevant. I

note in passing, that such language is, in any event, totally incompatible with the role

of a professional civil servant.

The Role of the Crown Office

The Crown Office has intervened three times to deny this Committee information for

which it has asked.

This has been done by reliance on legislation which was never designed to obstruct

the work of a Parliamentary Committee acting in the public interest and investigating

13

the actions of the Scottish Government. I know this to be true because I was First

Minister when the legislation was passed in 2010. The true purpose of s. 162 of the

Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010 was to prevent witness statements

falling into the hands of the accused and being used to intimidate or exert retribution

on witnesses and further because of instances of evidence ending up held or disposed

of in an insecure fashion. The basis of the legislation was Lord Coulsfield’s Report

(2007) and the intent was to clarify the legal requirements of disclosure and to

establish practical arrangements to prevent the misuse of disclosure. Thus section 162

(and 163) had nothing whatsoever to do with preventing relevant evidence being

presented to a parliamentary Committee and its misinterpretation as such by the

Crown Office is a profoundly disquieting development which strikes at the heart of

the parliamentary system of accountability.

On 17th September 2020 the Crown Office said that our proposal to the Committee to

identify the existence of documents which had not been provided by the Government

but which had been disclosed to me in the criminal case would be covered by Section

163 of the 2010 Act that ‘any person who knowingly uses or discloses information in

contravention of section 162 commits an offence’

Just in case we did not get the message he repeated the same point on 3 November

2020. On 17th December 2020 the Crown’s representative went further to block

information specifically requested by the Committee ‘For you or your client to

accede to the request of the clerk to the Committee would require both the use and

disclosure of said information. As such what is proposed would amount to a clear

breach of section 162 which, by reference to section 163 would amount to a criminal

offence’.

He then appears to suggest that the Committee itself would be in danger of

prosecution if we had acceded to the clerk’s request.

‘Further, any person who received such information from you or your client would

also be in breach of section 162, and consequently section 163, if they use or disclose

that information. In these circumstances I do not consider what is proposed is

acceptable’

This is a letter from an unelected official citing legislation passed by this Parliament

for quite different reasons and using it to deny information to a Committee of elected

parliamentarians. Some of the information we intended to provide included

Government documents which should have been provided to the Committee in the

first place. This position is extraordinary and totally unacceptable.

Given this attitude to disclosure by the Scottish Government and Crown Office, it

becomes highly surprising that when this Committee exerted section 23 powers to

require documents it was given irrelevant information for which it had not asked and

could never be published while relevant information remained undisclosed. It is also

clear that Government SPADS were briefing the media on this information before

members had even seen it. This is not the behaviour of a prosecution department

independent of government influence.

14

The Lord Advocate said in his evidence on 17th November 2020 that he thought the

Committee has seen this correspondence. As far as I am aware this is not the case

Nevertheless, I am happy now to provide that correspondence if the Committee so

wishes. In his latest letter of 8th February the Lord Advocate pointedly fails to answer

the specific question from the Committee Convener of 3rd February seeking

confirmation that all Government records had been provided.

As was glaringly clear from his evidence and his inability to address the most basic of

questions, his denial of provision of the legal advice of external counsel, his costly

delay in settling the case, his refusal to confirm what the Committee eventually found

out that both Counsel threatened to resign from the case, the Lord Advocate is deeply

compromised between his twin roles as head of prosecutions and chief government

legal adviser.

However the matter goes further yet. The Permanent Secretary has confirmed in

evidence to the Committee that the referral to the crown office was contrary to the

express wishes of the complainants. In spite of his protestations that he recused

himself from anything to do with the criminal investigation. I believe that the

Committee should ask the Lord Advocate directly whether he instructed two

unwilling complainants to make police statements.

Secondly the Committee has heard of the highly unusual route via the Crown Agent

that the Permanent Secretary ordered her staff, against the wishes of the complainants,

to present her report to the Chief Constable. Crown Agent David Harvie’s line

manager at that time was Leslie Evans, the Permanent Secretary.

The Crown Office under current leadership is a department simply not fit for purpose.

Summary

The procedure was devised when the Permanent Secretary, as decision maker, had

knowledge of emerging complaints against me. From the outset the Permanent

Secretary was compromised and should not have taken on that role.

The procedure was unsound not just in its implementation but in its genesis. It was

devised ‘at pace’, probably with the purpose of progressing complaints against me

and certainly without proper care or regard to its legality or effective consultation

with the unions.

The documents disclosed to the Committee demonstrate further serious abuses of

process by both the Investigating Officer and the Permanent Secretary.

In a further breach of the duty of candour the Government owed to the Court, those

documents were not made available at Judicial Review.

The Investigating Officer had not just ‘prior involvement’, but subsequently regular

contact with the complainants of a nature and level which was self-evidently

inconsistent with that of an impartial official.

15

The Permanent Secretary who in her own words ‘established’ the procedure met or

spoke to both complainants on multiple occasions (including in mid process) and

failed to disclose this in either the civil or criminal case.

The procedure was conceptually flawed and would have collapsed on principle even

if it had been properly implemented. It is a retrospective, hybrid policy, which claims

jurisdiction over private citizens who might have no connection whatsoever with the

Scottish Government and shows complete confusion between the legitimate roles of

Government and political parties.

It is demonstrably unfair. It transgresses the most basic principles of natural justice in

not even allowing the person complained about the right to prepare their own defence.

In addition, the Permanent Secretary denied access to civil servants, witness

statements or even my diaries until they were pursued in a subject access request.

The Government wasaware at a very early stage that they were at significant risk of

defeat in the Judicial Review, and by October 2018 were advised that, on the balance

of probabilities, they were likely to lose. Nevertheless they kept the clock running and

the public ended up paying over £600,000 as a result.

This information on likely defeat in the JR was communicated to key decision makers

– the Permanent Secretary, First Minster, the Lord Advocate, the Chief of Staff- in

meetings with external Counsel through October and November 2018.

The interests of complainants were disregarded by the Government in refusing

mediation initially without consultation, being given no consultation whatsoever on

the possibility of arbitration, being given false assurances on the Government

accepting their clear view against reporting matters to the police and then sending the

report to the Crown Office against their express wishes. The Government didn’t even

instruct counsel to attend court for the procedural hearing to address my application

to guarantee the anonymity of complainants.

The Crown Office has blocked key information coming to this Inquiry by wilfully

misinterpreting legislation designed for other purposes.

The Lord Advocate is manifestly conflicted in his roles as both Government legal

adviser and prosecutor.

The advice of the Lord Advocate at one stage included, for example, the option of

sisting (pausing) the Judicial Review to allow a criminal case to overtake the JR

proceedings. A consequence of this happening would have been to protect the

government from the catastrophic damage arising from losing the judicial review and

a finding of unlawful conduct.

This prospect provided an incentive and imperative for the recruiting and

encouragement of police complaints from others.

This was done by the closest advisers to the First Minister and senior SNP officials

actively involving civil servants AFTER the police investigation had started.

16

The Permanent Secretary ordered her decision report to be sent to the Crown Agent,

David Harvie, against the terms of the policy and the wishes of the complainants. At

that time I understand that she was his line manager.

Against police advice the Permanent Secretary decided to press release the fact of

complaints on Thursday 21st August 2018. That publication was only prevented by

threat of legal action by my solicitors.

A matter of hours later, there was what the ICO assessed as a prima facie criminal

leak of information including details of complaints to the Daily Record, in breach of

my rights of confidentiality, and those of the complainants. Such action was also

contrary to the express assurances of confidentiality offered to all parties and central

to such workplace issues.

The Judicial Review was only conceded when both Counsel threatened to resign from

the case

The policy and actions of the Permanent Secretary and the Government were accepted

as and then judged as ‘unlawful’, ‘procedurally unfair’ and ‘tainted by apparent

bias’.

The real cost to the Scottish people runs into many millions of pounds and yet no-one

in this entire process has uttered the simple words which are necessary on occasions

to renew and refresh democratic institutions – ‘I Resign’.

The Committee now has the opportunity to address that position.

Rt. Hon. Alex Salmond

17th February 2021

From: Alex Salmond

Sent: 15 February 2021 03:07

To: David McKie ; Duncan Hamilton

Subject: APPENDIX 2

From:

Date: August 27, 2018 at 7:46:13 AM GMT-5

To: REDACTED

Cc:

Subject: Personal

Hello (REDACTED)

I am not sure if you will remember me. I was Director of People/HR at the time you

worked with Scottish Government. I hope that this finds you well.

You may be aware that there has been considerable media coverage here over the

past few days in connection with the former First Minister. We are aware that this

coverage has been quite upsetting for some people and we are keen to support in

any way we can.

Your name and email address has been provided by a current employee at the

Scottish Government, noting that you were someone who worked with Scottish

Government previously and they were keen to ensure that you were offered any

support you may require.

I would be very happy to have a chat by phone or by email and put you in touch with

the various support channels if that would be helpful.

Kind regards

Barbara

BARBARA ALLISON,

Director, Communications, Ministerial Support and Facilities

Scottish Government.

Tel:

Sent from my iPad

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The information in this email is confidential and is for the use of the addressee only. Some or all of the

information may be legally privileged. Any disclosure, use or copying of the information in this email other than by the intended

recipient, is prohibited and would be a breach of confidentiality. If you have received this email in error, please notify the author

by replying to this email or telephoning 0141 307 2311. Levy & McRae has taken all reasonable precautions to ensure that any

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Please ensure that you carry out appropriate virus checks before opening any attachments. Unless related to the business of the

firm, the opinions expressed within this email are the opinions of the sender and do not necessarily constitute those of Levy &

McRae. Levy & McRae is the trading name of Levy & McRae Solicitors LLP, a limited liability partnership registered in Scotland with

number SO305445. A list of members is open to inspection at our office. Our email system is subject to random recording and

monitoring by us.

[Redacted] [Redacted] [Redacted] [Redacted] [Redacted] [Redacted]

Appendix 2

Please be aware of cyber-crime

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have received an e-mail with the sort code and account details you should call your Levy & McRae contact to corroborate these

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Appendix 3

Appendix 5


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bourbiza

Bourbiza Mohamed. Writer and Political Discourse Analysis.

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