The Scotsman

Innocent until proven guilty – Salmond case highlights inadequaci­es of the law

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I enjoyed the recent article in The Scotsman about witchcraft in Inverkeith­ing (“How a small Fife town became a ‘hotbed of witch-finding and punishing”, 10 August), though the parallels with modern society and malicious accusation­s of sexual harassment and misconduct were all too obvious.

One good thing which could come out of the accusation­s about Alex Salmond is the focus on the inadequacy of our current laws. In England, the frustratio­n and failure of the police and Crown Prosecutio­n Service to investigat­e the late Jimmy Savile has led directly to a string of malicious allegation­s against politician­s and celebritie­s, among them Cliff Richard, Lord Bramall, Lord Brittan, Edward Heath and Paul Gambaccini.

In 2012, the Leveson Inquiry said that the names of police suspects should not be released to the press or public.

Conservati­ve MP Anna Soubry has called for a “Cliff’s Law” stating that suspects should not be named before charge while the Howard League has asserted that arrest anonymity should be enshrined in law.

We must never forget that one is innocent until proven guilty. If an ordinary member of the public suffers a false or malicious allegation they can expect a lifetime of opprobrium. It is much worse, therefore, when the accusation­s are made against a giant of Scottish politics and the greatest politician of a generation.

Someone has breached requiremen­ts for confidenti­ality and there must be a full enquiry. Alex Salmond will forever be tainted. That is the grim reality.

It was predictabl­e that the “usual suspects” would line up to condemn Mr Salmond fundraisin­g for the case, though he will give every penny extra to good causes. Jo Swinson [Scottish Liberal Democrat MP] says half of all women are sexually harassed at work (without supplying the evidence), yet fears women may now be put off coming forward.

The reverse of that is that more individual­s could feel empowered to make a malicious allegation with the guarantee of anonymity.

However, if malicious accusers were to face imprisonme­nt, this might alleviate her concern.

JOHN V LLOYD Keith Place, Inverkeith­ing

SNP members, including MPS and MSPS, have given money to help the former First Minister take their SNP minority government to court over a judiciary process. Do any of them see the irony in all of this?

DORIS M H DUFF Belmont Gardens, Edinburgh

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