Alex Salmond lawyer guilty of professional misconduct over comments on train

The QC was caught on video talking about the former first minister and two of his accusers while making a rail trip.

Katharine Hay
Monday 25 April 2022 17:54
Gordon Jackson QC, who acted for Alex Salmond during his sex assault trial, has been found guilty of professional misconduct (Jane Barlow/PA)
Gordon Jackson QC, who acted for Alex Salmond during his sex assault trial, has been found guilty of professional misconduct (Jane Barlow/PA)

The QC who represented Alex Salmond in a sexual assault trial has been found guilty of professional misconduct after discussing the case on a train.

Gordon Jackson QC was caught on video speaking about the former first minister, who was cleared of all charges against him, and two of his accusers.

Mr Jackson told the PA news agency that he would not comment on the matter.

But in the wake of the finding, Rape Crisis Scotland called for Mr Findlay to be stripped of his right to practise as a QC, with the organisation’s chief executive, Sandy Brindley, saying that would be “an appropriate sanction that reflects the severity of this professional misconduct”.

We are relieved that the Faculty of Advocates have finally confirmed that this was professional misconduct

Sandy Brindley, Rape Crisis Scotland

An investigation by the Faculty of Advocates is reported to have concluded Mr Jackson had breached a court order which bans the publication of the women’s identities.

He reportedly said of one accuser: “We thought that eventually people might think she’s a flake and not like her.

“All I need to do is put a smell on her.”

The faculty’s finding, leaked to the Daily Record newspaper, was that Mr Jackson’s behaviour amounted to professional misconduct.

A Faculty spokesperson said: “As the process was ongoing it would not be appropriate for Faculty to comment on this matter, beyond confirming it was correct to say that a finding of professional misconduct had been made regarding Gordon Jackson QC.”

The lawyer represented Mr Salmond during a high profile case in which the former SNP leader, who now heads the rival pro-independence Alba Party, was accused of sexually assaulting a number of women.

At the end of the proceedings, Mr Salmond was acquitted of all charges, but a video later emerged showing Mr Jackson making remarks while on board a train during the course of the trial.

The video, in which Mr Jackson appears to say Mr Salmond could be seen as “a sex pest but he’s not charged with that”, was later obtained by The Sunday Times newspaper.

Shortly afterwards, the QC referred himself to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission and, in April 2020, announced he would quit as Dean of the Faculty of Advocates.

He apologised at the time, saying he deeply regretted the distress and difficulties caused.

An investigation was launched after a complaint was made by Rape Crisis Scotland on behalf of Salmond’s accusers.

Ms Brindley said they were “relieved that the Faculty of Advocates have finally confirmed that this was professional misconduct, and a breach of the contempt of court order that remains in place to protect the anonymity of the complainers in this case”.

She added the lawyer should now be “stripped of his right to practise as a QC as an appropriate sanction that reflects the severity of this professional misconduct”.

Ms Brindley said: “The process of this complaint handling, and the fact this happened at all, should prompt serious reflection on accountability and organisational culture within the legal profession.

“We shouldn’t underestimate the harm of Jackson’s actions here, not only to the women directly involved in the case, but in the chilling message he sent that day to anyone considering reporting sexual crimes.

“Navigating the criminal justice process is already daunting and difficult for complainers, any breaches of the anonymity of those who do report their experiences are serious and completely unacceptable.”

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