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

Alex Sal­mond

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

- BY TOM PETERKIN POLITICAL EDITOR Crime · Sexual Abuse · Violence and Abuse · Society · Scottish Government · Nicola Sturgeon · Scottish National Party · Alex Salmond · Peter Murrell · Linda Fabiani

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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