Sal­mond wins le­gal chal­lenge over com­plaints probe.

Com­plainants had right to ex­pect bet­ter, says Stur­geon af­ter le­gal de­feat

The Courier & Advertiser (Angus and The Mearns Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - GARETH MCPHER­SON PO­LIT­I­CAL ED­I­TOR gm­cpher­[email protected]­

The first min­is­ter has apol­o­gised to al­leged vic­tims for the bungle that led to the col­lapse of her gov­ern­ment’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Alex Sal­mond.

The for­mer SNP leader won his le­gal chal­lenge yes­ter­day over the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment’s han­dling of sex­ual mis­con­duct com­plaints made against him, af­ter the ad­min­is­tra­tion he used to lead con­ceded de­feat.

Ms Stur­geon has stood by her per­ma­nent sec­re­tary Les­lie Evans, who was in charge of the probe, in the wake of her for­mer men­tor’s call for the coun­try’s most se­nior civil ser­vant to re­sign.

It also emerged last night that the SNP leader met with Mr Sal­mond on five oc­ca­sions since the al­le­ga­tions arose in Jan­uary last year, dur­ing which she suggested he tried to get her to in­ter­vene in the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, which the first min­is­ter is barred from be­ing in­volved in.

The Court of Ses­sion ruled that the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment acted un­law­fully when it ap­pointed as in­ves­ti­gat­ing of­fi­cer a per­son who had prior in­volve­ment with the two work­ers and their com­plaints, which flouted its own pro­ce­dural rules.

Apol­o­gis­ing to the com­plainants for the “deeply re­gret­table” out­come, the first min­is­ter told Holy­rood: “They had the right to ex­pect the process to reach a last­ing con­clu­sion and I am sorry that on this oc­ca­sion that has not been the case.”

Ms Stur­geon said while the ap­pli­ca­tion of the pro­ce­dures was “flawed” and risked the ap­pear­ance of par­tial­ity, the rules are ro­bust.

Com­plaints from two fe­male Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment work­ers were made in Jan­uary 2018 against Mr Sal­mond, re­lat­ing to his time in of­fice, which are sub­ject to a po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion that is not af­fected by yes­ter­day’s court out­come.

Ms Stur­geon said the last time she had con­tact with Mr Sal­mond was on July 18 last year.

Out­side court, Mr Sal­mond said he was “glad to have won” but “re­ally sad” to have been forced into the le­gal chal­lenge.

Asked whether he is “en­tirely in­no­cent” of mis­con­duct, he said: “I am cer­tainly not guilty of any crim­i­nal­ity.

“I am cer­tainly not guilty of what the per­ma­nent sec­re­tary has suggested. I never said, in­ci­den­tally, I was an an­gel.”

Pic­ture: PA.

Alex Sal­mond, watched by, from left, for­mer Scot­tish Par­lia­ment pre­sid­ing of­fi­cer Tri­cia Mar­wick, so­lic­i­tor David Mckie and so­lic­i­tor Bev­er­ley Atkin­son, speak­ing out­side the Court of Ses­sion in Ed­in­burgh.

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