SALMOND GETS HIS SCALP

Civil ser­vice chief blamed for botched probe won’t keep job Se­nior SNP source: Eck plot claims non­sense and para­noia

Sunday Mail (UK) - - Front Page - John Fer­gu­son

The chief man­darin who bun­gled Alex Salmond’s sex­ual harass­ment probe will not sur­vive in her post, se­nior SNP sources have claimed.

It’s be­lieved Les­lie Evans w il l not re­main as Per­ma­nent Sec­re­tary be­cause of costly er­rors made in deal­ing with sex as­sault al­le­ga­tions against the for­mer First Min­is­ter.

Evans wa s in charge of the probe judged “un­law­ful” last week – with tax­pay­ers now fac­ing a £ 500,000 le­gal bill.

The chief civil ser­vant who botched Alex Salmond’s sex as­sault in­ves­ti­ga­tion will not sur­vive in her post, se­nior SNP sources have claimed.

Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment Per­ma­nent Sec­re­tary Les­lie Evans is likely to be the first ca­su­alty of Salmond’s war with the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment.

Evans was in charge of an in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the for­mer first min­is­ter ruled “un­law­ful” by a judge last week.

The ver­dict will have no bear­ing on an on­go­ing po­lice in­quiry into Salmond’s con­duct but Ni­cola Stur­geon has been left se­ri­ously em­bar­rassed by the pro­ce­dural blun­ders.

Evans’ sf ail­ing swill cost tax­pay­ers £500,000 in le­gal fees and have com­pro­mised two women who made com­plaints mplaints against Salmond.

The Sun­day Mail has spo­ken to a se­nior source within the SNP who said the £160,000-a- year-civil l ser­vant should “carry the e can” for the “pro­ce­dural al mess”, while dis­miss­ing as “non­sense and para­noia” ia” claims from Salmond of a plot against him.

When we asked the Scot­tish Govern­mentt to com­ment on spec­u­la­tion over Evans’s fu­ture, a spokesman sman re­fused to back her or ad­dress the is­sue.

The SNP source said: “It’s not t been an easy week for the party but we’ve come through worse in the past and emerged stronger for it.

“It’s a real pity the fo­cus has turned to ques­tion­ing Ni­cola’s lead­er­ship, when at the end of the day we wouldn’t have got to this point had Alex

not been the sub­ject of two com­plaints com­plaints.

“The feed­ing frenzy by some in the me­dia and po­lit­i­cal op­po­nents risks miss­ing that point by cre­at­ing the fic­tion of a civil war.

“The no­tion of a plot de­signed to tar­nish Alex’s name is the stuff of non­sense and para­noia.

“There have been hon­est mimis­takes made, sure. No­body dis­pdis­putes that. And yes, there’s a strostrong ar­gu­ment that it should be Les­lieL Evans as the per­son to carry the can for that. We’ll see how long she re­mains in post.

“But the idea of a con­spir­acy by the First Min­is­ter and an in­ner cir­cle of close aides is just gos­sip founded on ig­no­rance.

“The peo­ple at the cen­tre of all of this have acted with the best in­ten­tions. They’ve cocked up, no doubt. But they’re not de­vi­ous op­er­a­tors, gun­ning for Alex out of mal­ice and they de­serve the breath­ing space to sort out what is ul­ti­mately a pro­ce­dural mess.”

Evans breached her own guide­lines by ap­point­ing an in­ves­ti­gat­ing of­fi­cer who’d had con­tact with the two women who made the al­le­ga­tions.

As a re­sult , the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment con­ceded de­feat in their le­gal fight with Salmond, who had been seek­ing a ju­di­cial re­view. The climb­down was a costly and hu­mil­i­at­ing de­feat for the Gov­ern­ment but also Evans per­son­ally.

After Salmond launched his le­gal chal­lenge Evans said, in a state­ment she will now be try­ing to for­get: “I note that the for­mer first min­is­ter has in­di­cated his in­ten­tion to chal­lenge the ac­tions taken by the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment.

“His state­ment con­tains sig­nif­i­cant in­ac­cu­ra­cies which will be ad­dressed in those court pro­ceed­ings. The Scot­tish

PROBE Salmond and, left, Evans

VIC­TORY Salmond last week and, below, with Stur­geon Pic Cal­lum Mof­fat

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