Alex Salmond accuses Nicola Sturgeon’s government of ‘disgraceful’ dishonesty

Former SNP leader also claims his successor U-turned on ‘mediation’ offer

Adam Forrest
Wednesday 03 February 2021 16:56
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Related video:  Nicola Sturgeon insists ‘I did not mislead parliament’ on Salmond inquiry

Alex Salmond has accused the Scottish government of “systematic” dishonesty in its handling of sexual misconduct claims made against him.

Scotland’s former first minister said the behaviour of Nicola Sturgeon’s administration was “a disgrace” – and claimed the taxpayers’ bill for the legal processes related to the allegations would cost up to £750,000.

Mr Salmond was cleared of all allegations made against him following a trial last year. He also won a legal case against the Scottish government, found to have acted unlawfully while investigating the complaints.

In an explosive new statement to the Holyrood inquiry probing the saga, Mr Salmond claimed the current SNP leader had initially “suggested” she would back mediation into the allegations against him.

However, Ms Sturgeon “decided against such an intervention”, according to Mr Salmond – prompting him to pursue a judicial review against her government.

“The behaviour of the [Scottish] government was, in my view, a disgrace,” Mr Salmond said – accusing the administration of making “untrue” claims in court as well as a “systematic failure to disclose” relevant information.

Mr Salmond’s 21-page written submission to the Holyrood committee probing the Scottish government’s botched handling of harassment complaints was published on Wednesday, ahead of his highly anticipated appearance at the committee next week.

The committee was set up after the Court of Session in Edinburgh ruled the handling of complaints against the former first minister to be “unlawful”, resulting in a £512,000 pay-out to the former SNP leader.

Sturgeon and Salmond on campaign trail in 2015

The case has caused a huge rupture inside the SNP, destroying the friendship between the once-close allies at the top of the party.

Ms Sturgeon has continued to insist she did not intervene in the case, but Mr Salmond has now claimed his successor “suggested” she would do so at a meeting in 2018.

The former SNP leader said: “In the meeting of April 2nd the first minister had suggested that she would intervene in favour of a mediation process at an appropriate stage.

“She subsequently decided against such an intervention. In the event, our proposals of 4th April 2018 seeking mediation were rejected by the permanent secretary [the government’s most senior civil servant] without them even being placed before the complainers as an option.”

Mr Salmond has previously alleged WhatsApp messages suggest Peter Murrell – the SNP’s chief executive and Ms Sturgeon’s husband – put the police under pressure to pursue sexual harassment allegations against him.

Ms Sturgeon insisted last month that she “did not mislead” the Scottish parliament on the matter. “That’s what I will say all too clearly when I get the opportunity,” she told the BBC on her own upcoming appearance at the committee.

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