The Press and Journal (Inverness, Highlands, and Islands)

Alex Salmond

● Inquiries to probe handling of sexual harassment complaints against ex-FM


When Alex Salmond was cleared of sexually assaulting nine women at the High Court in Edinburgh it was far from the end of the story.

The former first minister signalled as much with his thinly-veiled warning outside the court after he was found not guilty of 12 sexual assault charges, including one of attempted rape, and not proven when it came to one of sexual assault with intent to rape.

Mr Salmond promised a sequel to one of the most dramatic episodes in Scottish politics when he said there was “certain evidence” that was not heard in court but he wanted “to see the light” of day eventually.

That sequel will gradually unfold over the coming weeks and months as no fewer than three official inquiries that have been launched into the Salmond saga get under way.

Under the microscope will be how the Scottish Government handled sexual harassment complaints made against Mr Salmond. Also scrutinise­d will be the role played by a host of prominent Scottish figures including First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and permanent secretary Leslie Evans.

Here is a breakdown of the three inquiries and the issues they will examine.

This has the potential to be the most thorough and interestin­g of all the investigat­ions when it resumes this week. It also promises compelling political theatre with Mr Salmond, Ms Sturgeon, her husband and SNP chief executive Peter Murrell and Ms Evans expected to give evidence.

From Mr Salmond’s point of view, it should give him the chance to raise some of the “evidence” that was not heard when he faced criminal charges at the High Court. Mr Salmond’s supporters have claimed the former SNP leader has been the victim of a conspiracy.

During his trial, Mr Salmond said some of the charges against him were “fabricatio­ns for a political purpose”. Ms Sturgeon, on the other hand, has dismissed claims that her allies in the party conspired against Mr Salmond as a “heap of nonsense”.

The tensions between the Salmond and Sturgeon wings of the party will be a dominant theme of the inquiry when MSPs start taking oral evidence in September.

The Holyrood committee on the Scottish Government handling of harassment complaints was establishe­d in the aftermath of Mr Salmond’s successful civil action against the Scottish Government at the beginning of last year.

Chaired by the SNP MSP Linda Fabiani, it will examine the circumstan­ces that led to the Scottish Government’s case collapsing, which resulted in the taxpayer shelling out more than £500,000 for Mr Salmond’s legal costs.

MSPs on the committee will scrutinise how the Scottish Government acted when two sexual harassment complaints were made against Mr Salmond in January 2018. The complaints were dealt with under a new complaints procedure drawn up by Ms Evans and signed off by Ms Sturgeon in 2017.

Mr Salmond was adamant the

 ??  ?? First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and her husband Peter Murrell, SNP chief executive
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and her husband Peter Murrell, SNP chief executive
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