Sal­mond body­guard stands by him over mis­con­duct claims

The Herald on Sunday - - THE WEEK - By Paul Hutcheon

ALEX Sal­mond’s for­mer body­guard gave a state­ment last year deny­ing his ex-boss had be­haved in­ap­pro­pri­ately to­wards fe­male staff at Ed­in­burgh Air­port when he was First Min­is­ter.

Roger Cherry, who was also Mr Sal­mond’s Gov­ern­ment driver, is be­lieved to have said he was with him al­most ev­ery­where and would have seen any­thing in­ap­pro­pri­ate at the air­port.

Af­ter two women made com­plaints in Jan­uary, the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment ex­am­ined claims of sex­ual mis­con­duct against the for­mer First Min­is­ter when he was in of­fice.

The probe, over­seen by per­ma­nent sec­re­tary Les­lie Evans, led to the Gov­ern­ment re­fer­ring the find­ings to Po­lice Scot­land, which has since launched its own in­ves­ti­ga­tion. Mr Sal­mond has de­nied sex­u­ally ha­rass­ing any­one and is chal­leng­ing the Gov­ern­ment probe in court.

Last week it emerged that the sin­gle force had in­ter­viewed staff at Ed­in­burgh Air­port over sep­a­rate al­leged in­ci­dents in­volv­ing the for­mer SNP leader stretch­ing back to 2008.

It was re­ported that in­for­mal com­plaints were made by fe­male mem­bers of se­cu­rity staff and re­lated to al­leged com­ments and be­hav­iour from Mr Sal­mond as he pre­pared to board flights.

How­ever, the al­le­ga­tions were first lev­elled at Mr Sal­mond by a jour­nal­ist for Sky News last year, but no story was re­ported.

A re­porter for the broad­caster wrote last week that he had asked the SNP for com­ment at the time, but the party did not re­spond.

It is un­der­stood Mr Cherry pro­vided a state­ment re­gard­ing the air­port al­le­ga­tions af­ter Sky News ap­proached Mr Sal­mond.

Mr Cherry, 51, worked as a po­lice of­fi­cer for the Met be­fore be­com­ing a driver for Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment Min­is­ters.

He was al­lo­cated to Mr Sal­mond in 2007 and sub­se­quently worked in his pri­vate of­fice from 2008.

Mr Cherry’s pri­mary duty in­volved driv­ing the First Min­is­ter to events, but he also acted as his per­sonal se­cu­rity of­fi­cer. He still works for the Gov­ern­ment.

In his state­ment, Mr Cherry is said to have writ­ten that he was by Mr Sal­mond’s side al­most ev­ery­where in the job, in­clud­ing to and from Lon­don, all over Scot­land and in­ter­na­tion­ally.

He is be­lieved to have stated that he was present with Mr Sal­mond at air­ports and, given he was ef­fec­tively his se­cu­rity guard, was in close prox­im­ity to him.

Re­gard­ing the al­le­ga­tions that were put to Mr Sal­mond by Sky News, he said Mr Sal­mond had not be­haved in­ap­pro­pri­ately ei­ther ver­bally or phys­i­cally.

In Au­gust, on the day the ini­tial al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual ha­rass­ment were pub­lished by a tabloid news­pa­per, Mr Sal­mond an­swered jour­nal­ists’ ques­tions at an event in a mar­quee close to Lin­lith­gow.

Asked by this news­pa­per whether any me­dia or­gan­i­sa­tion had ap­proached him in the last 18 months about al­le­ga­tions of in­ap­pro­pri­ate con­duct in re­la­tion to women, he told the press con­fer­ence: “If a me­dia or­gan­i­sa­tion had be­lieved they had a case, no doubt they would have pub­lished a case.”

Mr Sal­mond’s le­gal chal­lenge over how the Gov­ern­ment han­dled the al­le­ga­tions called in court this month and a four-day hear­ing will be held in Jan­uary.

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