Po­lice es­ca­late in­quiry on Salmond al­le­ga­tions

●Full-blown in­ves­ti­ga­tion be­gins af­ter assess­ment of ev­i­dence

The Scotsman - - Front Page - By TOM PETERKIN Po­lit­i­cal Editor

Po­lice Scot­land has es­ca­lated its in­ves­ti­ga­tion into two com­plaints of sex­ual ha­rass­ment against Alex Salmond into a full-blown in­quiry.

The move came as Ni­cola Stur­geon was urged to dis­close what she knew of trade union con­cerns over the former First Min­is­ter’s treat­ment of staff af­ter fresh “bul­ly­ing” claims emerged about his be­hav­iour.

Ms Stur­geon and her fel­low min­is­ters were urged to be “as open as pos­si­ble” about claims there was an is­sue with Mr Salmond and bul­ly­ing when he was First Min­is­ter.

Mr Salmond’s con­duct came un­der re­newed scru­tiny af­ter it was re­ported that civil ser­vice trade unions raised con­cerns al­most ten years ago about the way he treated staff.

He hit back yes­ter­day, with Mr Salmond de­scrib­ing the al­le­ga­tions as “noth­ing more than anony­mous ma­li­cious brief­ing” as he threat­ened le­gal ac­tion against those who pub­lished “defam­a­tory ma­te­rial”.

Mr Salmond re­leased his bullish state­ment af­ter it was re­ported in the Daily Record that his tem­per had re­duced staff to tears and min­is­te­rial be­hav­iour led to unions

in­sist­ing the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment in­tro­duce a for­mal sys­tem for deal­ing with com­plaints.

Ac­cord­ing to the news­pa­per, no for­mal com­plaints against Mr Salmond were made be­fore he left of­fice in Novem­ber 2014, but con­cerns had been raised about his be­hav­iour.

Doc­u­ments ob­tained un­der Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion leg­is­la­tion have re­vealed a new Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment process for deal­ing with com­plaints against min­is­ters was in­tro­duced in 2010. The doc­u­ments showed trade unions raised con­cerns about the be­hav­iour of min­is­ters a decade ago.

One of the doc­u­ments re­ferred to a “his­tory of bad be­hav­iour” by min­is­ters in the former Scot­tish Of­fice/ Scot­tish Ex­ec­u­tive “and now the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment”.

There had been no for­mal guid­ance for han­dling com­plaints be­fore the in­tro­duc­tion of the Fair­ness at Work pol­icy. The news­pa­per quoted a se­nior trade union source, who was in­volved in pol­icy draft dis­cus­sions.

The source said: “By 2009-10, there were peo­ple ap­proach­ing the union say­ing there was an is­sue with Mr Salmond and bul­ly­ing. A num­ber of union reps had all heard the same thing from dif­fer­ent sources, so we were taking it very se­ri­ously be­cause it was clearly a prob­lem.”

Last night a Scot­tish Con­ser­va­tive spokesman sug­gested Ms Stur­geon, who was Deputy First Min­is­ter at the time, should dis­close what she knew about the con­cerns.

The Tory spokesman said: “There are le­git­i­mate ques­tions to be asked about what Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment min­is­ters knew of the trade union con­cerns at the time.”

A few hours af­ter the lat­est al­le­ga­tions about Mr Salmond’s be­hav­iour were re­ported, it emerged Po­lice Scot­land had up­graded their in­quiries into com­plaints of sex­ual ha­rass­ment made by two women.

Po­lice Scot­land had pre­vi­ously said it was “car­ry­ing out an assess­ment of in­for­ma­tion, which we have re­ceived and en­quiries are at an early stage”.

Yes­ter­day the po­lice up­dated the state­ment to read: “Our in­quiries con­tinue. We will not be com­ment­ing fur­ther.”

The new form of words is un­der­stood to in­di­cate Po­lice Scot­land has moved be­yond the “assess­ment” stage where Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment in­for­ma­tion was ex­am­ined to a full-blown in­quiry where wit­nesses are ex­pected to be con­tacted. Mr Salmond, who has re­signed from the SNP, is seek­ing a ju­di­cial re­view against the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment over its han­dling of sex­ual mis­con­duct­claims made against him.

Re­act­ing to claims of bul­ly­ing, a spokesper­son for Mr Salmond said: “We will do our talk­ing in court. The Daily Record have been placed on spe­cific no­tice on re­cent sto­ries they have run against Mr Salmond. This lat­est ma­te­rial is based on noth­ing more than anony­mous ma­li­cious brief­ing from un­named sources and a com­plete mis­in­ter­pre­ta­tion of doc­u­ments re­leased un­der FOI last Jan­uary.”

A Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment spokesper­son said: “No com­plaints about Alex Salmond were raised with the First Min­is­ter un­der this process when she was Deputy First Min­is­ter. As the First Min­is­ter has said, the first she be­came aware of the fact of any com­plaint against Alex Salmond is when he told her in April that he was un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion.”

Alex Salmond is seek­ing a a ju­di­cial re­view against the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment

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