Salmond wins legal challenge over complaints probe.
Complainants had right to expect better, says Sturgeon after legal defeat
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.”
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.