Why Leslie Evans Must Resign 495

Scotland’s retention of its own legal system, based on an entirely different legal inheritance to the Anglo-Saxon one, is an important part of its national heritage. Senior judiciary and lawyers held a unique social status in national life for many centuries, as joint custodians with the Church of the residual national autonomy. The lawyers of Edinburgh are still a formidable, and broadly conservative, caste. That caste is collectively astonished by the revelations in the Alex Salmond case, and especially by the Scottish Government’s brazen reaction to the judgement of Lord Pentland and the inexplicable failure of Leslie Evans to resign. Secrets that are sealed and kept from the public are shared in whispers amongst the legal brotherhood. In the corridors of the Court of Session, in the robing rooms, in the Signet Library, in the Bow Bar, in the fine restaurants concealed behind medieval facades in the Old Town, in the New Club, the facts whirl round and round, in an atmosphere approaching indignation.

I think now you should share in some of those facts.

The Scottish Government’s version of events was that in December 2017 a new civil service code was adopted which allowed complaints to be made against former ministers. That new code was published to staff on the Scottish Government intranet, which resulted in two complaints against Alex Salmond being received in January of 2018.

Neither I, nor the collective consciousness of legal Edinburgh, can recall any example in history of a government being caught in a more systematic and egregious lie by a judge, but yet continuing to insist it is in the right and will continue on the same course. Every point of the above official government story was proven not just to be wrong, but to be a lie, because Lord Pentland called a Commission on Diligence.

This is a little known and little used process in Scots Law where one party challenges whether the other party has really produced all the important evidence in disclosure. A Commissioner is appointed who, in closed session, hears evidence on oath as to what documents are available and their meaning.

The Scottish Government had opposed before Lord Pentland the setting up of the Commission on Diligence, on the grounds that there was no more relevant documentation – which turned out in itself to be a massive lie.

Over the Festive period, the Commission in the Salmond case obtained quite astonishing evidence that proved the Scottish Government was lying through its teeth and attempting to hide a great many key documents. The oral evidence under oath, particularly from Leslie Evans given on 23 December 2018, was even more jaw-dropping. It is because of what was revealed behind closed doors in the Commission on Evidence that legal Edinburgh cannot believe Leslie Evans has not resigned.

The truth is that Judith Mackinnon, the “Investigating Officer” in this case, was closely involved in the new and unprecedented procedure for complaints against “former ministers” from at the latest 7 November and had multiple direct contacts with the complainants against Salmond at the very latest from early December 2017 – just three months after Mackinnon took up her job as “Head of People Advice”. On or shortly after 7 November 2017, Permanent Secretary Leslie Evans was briefed about the complaint, which fact was minuted, in a manner that very definitely made Evans acutely aware of Mackinnon’s involvement. Evans claimed on 23 December 2018 under oath to have not noticed this, or to have forgotten it.

Evans being informed of the potential complaint against Salmond on or shortly after 7 November, coincided very closely with the initiation within the Civil Service in Scotland of the drafting of a new Civil Service Code enabling complaints against former ministers. This Civil Service activity included seeking the views of the Cabinet Office in London on creating a code enabling complaints against ex-ministers. The Cabinet Office in London did not support the idea. Nevertheless on 22 November 2017 the First Minister agreed the change in principle, as in line with the aims of the MeToo movement.

Judith Mackinnon’s preparation of the complainants against Salmond then entered a higher gear. She had numerous meetings and communications with both complainants in early December 2017. At the same time, she was continuing to be actively involved in the drafting of the new Code to enable the case she was working on. Astonishingly, the two complainants were themselves actually sent the draft Former Ministers Procedure for comment by Judith Mackinnon, before it was adopted! One of them, who had left the Civil Service, also appeared from the records to be potentially encouraged by another senior civil servant with the suggestion of the prospect of employment. Both were told by Mackinnon that she was likely to be the chosen “investigator”.

The Former Ministers Procedure in final form was not adopted and active until 20 December 2017, when it was signed off by Nicola Sturgeon, wweks after Mackinnon initiated action to proceed with complaints against Salmond. The new procedure was not advertised on the Intranet to staff until 8 February 2018, two months after Mackinnon’s first meeting with at least one of the complainants.

Contrary to the lies of the Scottish Government, zero complaints against Alex Salmond were received from staff following the publication to staff of the new former ministers procedure on the Intranet. The only two complaints had both been canvassed and encouraged a minimum of three months earlier.

Leslie Evans was aware of Judith Mackinnon’s role in the process at least from November 7 2017. Evans was repeatedly informed throughout December 2017 of the development of the complaints and of Mackinnon’s – and other civil servants’ -contacts with the complainants. The complaints against Salmond were being developed in parallel with the drafting of the Code which would retrospectively cover them, and being developed by the same people doing the drafting, and even the complainants were consulted on the draft Code. It was not until January 2018 that Mackinnon was appointed as “Investigating Officer” despite the fact that the Civil Service Code stipulated that the Investigating Officer must have “no prior involvement with any aspect of the matter”. She had in fact had intensive contact with the complainers over two months and had been active in the development of the procedure for three months. There is no indication that Mackinnon was keeping that secret from her senior colleagues or the Permanent Secretary, Evans.

Nicola Sturgeon, reacting to her Government’s court defeat, disingenuously described to Holyrood Mackinnon’s contacts with the complainants as merely “welfare support and guidance”. Sturgeon knows for a fact that is not true. The documents the Scottish Government was forced by the Commission to disclose prove that Mackinnon’s involvement comprised, as described in open court:

the substance of the complaint, evidence to support the complaints, circumstances in which they arose, the manner in which they could go on to make formal complaints and a significant decree of assistance to the complainers bordering on encouragement to proceed with their complaints.

Still more of a lie is Leslie Evans’ astonishing and unrepentant statement after the humiliating capitulation of the Government case before Lord Pentland. It is a statement woven through with falsehood and deceit, but the most obviously untrue point of all is her refusal to acknowledge what the documents show, that she knew full well all this was happening at the time.

After reassessing all the materials available, I have concluded that an impression of partiality could have been created based on one specific point – contact between the Investigating Officer and the two complainants around the time of their complaints being made in January 2018.
The full picture only became evident in December 2018 as a result of the work being undertaken to produce relevant documents in advance of the hearing.

Evans’ blatant attempt to pretend she knew nothing, and thus throw Mackinnon under the bus alone, is morally disgusting. Still more so is her utterly false claim that, the case having fallen after she conceded it on the basis Mackinnon ought not to have been appointed Investigating Officer, all Alex Salmond’s other legal points fell. Evans’ statement reads:

All the other grounds of Mr Salmond’s challenge have been dismissed.

That is a total untruth. It was made perfectly plain in Lord Pentland’s Court that, the Scottish Government having conceded the case, there was no point in hearing all the other grounds. This was made specific in court, where the other points were described as “now academic”.

I hope I have managed to make plain to you that Mackinnon’s appointment as Investigating Officer was the least of the many dreadful things of which the Scottish Government was guilty in this case. They naturally conceded on the least embarrassing. In fact, the entire matter is an orchestrated stitch-up.

Finally, I am obliged to consider the role of the First Minister and her subsequent defence of Evans and Mackinnon. I do so with the heaviest of hearts, because I know that any criticism at all of Nicola Sturgeon is considered utterly inadmissible by many of my fellow campaigners for Scottish Independence. Believe me, if I did not feel a strong obligation to truth I would much prefer not to speak of it.

But consider this, with as open a mind as you can muster.

Sturgeon’s defence of Mackinnon, as doing no more in the instigation of the complaints than provide welfare counselling and advice, is completely untrue. Sturgeon knows very well that it is untrue.

Consider this as well. Had the Scottish Government not thrown in the towel, Nicola’s Chief of Staff Liz Lloyd would that day have been questioned under oath about documents that she would have had to produce to the Court. Lloyd may well also not be anxious to be questioned about the leak of salacious details of one of the allegations, to David Clegg of the Daily Record. Lloyd knows Clegg well.

It really is very difficult to look through all the facts – including some I have not given here as they have not been referred to in open court – and conclude that Nicola was unaware of the stitch-up. I have spoken to dozens of sources this last three weeks, including many elected SNP figures, a couple of civil servants, and others who know Nicola personally. This is my conclusion, based on their extensive observations.

It is no secret that feminism is Nicola’s passion. A gender-balanced Cabinet, all-female shortlists for SNP Holyrood candidates, gender balance on boards of public authorities, these and many more are results of Nicola’s feminist activism in government, much of it admirable. Leslie Evans is close to her and a key ally in driving forward that agenda.

Leslie Evans has built a career out of promoting PC identity politics within local authorities and the civil service. In this story of her dishonesty when an officer at Edinburgh City Council, that appears to be her motivation against the project she sought to penalise. Evans frequently states her feminist principles.

And my gender politics too – my feminism – and I am a feminist – dates back to learning about Elizabeth 1st’s speech at Tilbury (‘I know I have the body of a weak, feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king’)…
Most Permanent Secretaries are male and the product of private schooling and the Oxbridge system. You might have noticed I’m none of these things. In fact I am only the 30th female Perm Sec in whole history of the UKCS and the first female Perm Sec in Scotland has ever seen.

She was chosen, from a shortlist, to head the Civil Service in Scotland by Nicola. I am quite certain that the fact she was a woman with a history of promoting gender issues was a major factor in Nicola’s choice. Precisely the same factors also characterise Judith Mackinnon’s career in human resources, as I previously reported. Here is Leslie Evans on gender equality throughout Scottish government:

There’s another key difference between Scotland’s government and the UK’s – for Holyrood’s a world leader in gender diversity. Not only are the perm sec and the leaders of the three biggest parties women, but also half the cabinet, half the directors general, and 46% of the senior civil service.

As in all fields of diversity, Evans warns, this parity’s fragile: “It only takes one or two people to leave, and you’ve got a completely different balance again. You can never have the luxury of thinking you’ve done it.” And does achieving that balance change how government operates? She’s cautious. “I’d be foolish to say that this government feels very different from others, or that the cabinet operates in a markedly different way,” she replies. “I do think there are some broad themes that I can pick out. I think women tend to be a bit more collaborative; sometimes they’re a bit more thoughtful, and less likely to jump to conclusions. But I’m sure that people would challenge me on some of that thinking.”

This key ITV News article from 2015 was headlined “Sturgeon’s Women Power vs Cameron’s Man Power”

But Ms Sturgeon has also made her mark at the heart of government.
Women now occupy the three most important jobs in Scottish politics.
That’s in marked contrast to the big jobs in Downing Street, all held by men.
As it happens there are also significant educational differences too.
In Scotland the top three women were all state educated.
South of the Border they all went to public (in other words private) schools.
Here’s the roll call:
There’s Ms Sturgeon herself who went to Greenwood Academy in Ayrshire, and on to Glasgow University.
Her chief of staff and senior political adviser, Liz Lloyd, went to Gosforth High School in Newcastle, a state school, and Edinburgh University.
Leslie Evans, newly appointed as the Permanent Secretary to the Scottish government, the most senior civil servant in Scotland, went to High Storrs school in Sheffield and Liverpool University.

That article was briefed by Sturgeon’s office and Nicola sees Lloyd, Evans and Mackinnon as performing key roles in driving her gender equality policies in Scotland. That is why she leaps to defend them. That is her here and now, and has become more real to her than the time before she was First Minister, campaigning for Independence with Alex. She is emotionally attached to Lloyd, Evans and Mackinnon on that basis, to the extent that she is prepared to defend the indefensible.

Nicola sees the criticism of the attack on Alex, an attack made under her MeToo inspired Former Ministers Procedure, as a slur on the integrity of the gender policies which Nicola sees as cementing her place in history. It is also a direct attack on the female team which she hand-picked to implement those policies. It is not irrelevant to the MeToo context that Alex Salmond has been described frequently as, solely in a political sense, being a father figure to Nicola, and perhaps is thus easily associated in her mind with the abusive patriarchy as characterised by the feminist movement. Despite the obvious fishiness of both the allegations against Alex and the way they were dredged up, they fit Nicola’s most valued agenda. In pursuing that agenda, Nicola has simply lost all sight of the notion of fairness to Alex Salmond.

It should be noted that after Lord Pentland’s ruling, Nicola rightly apologised to the complainants for the mishandling. She remarkably did not apologise to Alex Salmond, who was actually the person Lord Pentland had ruled her Government had treated unfairly. That was not an accidental omission.

If Alex Salmond goes ahead to sue the Scottish Government for damages, which I certainly hope that he does, the Scottish Government cannot oblige him to settle and will find it very difficult to stop both the documents to which I refer, and the key evidence on oath, from coming out in open court. I am very confident that anybody who now scoffs or rails at me will look very stupid when that happens.

In conclusion, a senior judge does not describe the Government’s proceedings as “unlawful”, “unfair” and “tainted by apparent bias” without extreme care. Those words carry full weight. That Nicola Sturgeon has simply sought to ignore them is astonishing.

UPDATE at 20.06: This article led to a number of people contacting me to offer more information, or in some cases correction, on various points, plus two lawyers who contacted me with legal advice. I have therefore made a number of relatively minor changes to detail including some dates, but they in no way alter the thrust of the narrative or the argument. If further information comes in, there may be more changes. I will let you know.

*In a previous article I had written that Mackinnon started contact with the complainants in January 2018. It was in fact still earlier, November 2017.

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495 thoughts on “Why Leslie Evans Must Resign

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  • able

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Nicola’s greatest achievement in politics will be her contribition towards gender equality in the UK.

    • Random Person

      She doesn’t want gender equality. She wants female domination. And if employing sleekit, mendacious clowns like Evans and Mackinnon is evidence of ‘gender equality,’ then Ms; Sturgeon needs to take a long, hard look at her female-centric beliefs.

      • lysias

        Whoever coined the phrase “monstrous regiment of women” may have been on to something.

    • Douglas

      Precisely Jm,

      Maybe leaders of the independence movement have lost their way in this (or maybe not) but it is clear how this is going to be used and who is going to use it.

      I take a small crumb of comfort in how desperate the British Nationalists are to use this. This is reaching a crescendo.

      Prediction: We can expect more ‘political mines’ to detonate under the independence movement in the next few weeks.

      Any dirt that can be found or implied will be used to bring down as many as possible.

      This is where we demonstrate the strength in depth of the independence movement -and keep going.

      • craig Post author

        Jm and Douglas, are you implying this article is untrue and a Unionist plot of some kind? What precisely do you believe to be untrue?

        It was not I who started crooked and biased proceedings against Alex and it was not I who chose to defend those crooked proceedings against Alex. I am merely reporting the truth after a lot of hard work uncovering it. I am afraid your anger and your suspicion are severely misdirected.

        • Douglas

          No Craig, your article is, sadly, very compelling.

          It is clear how painful you find what you have discovered. I am not angry with you in any way -and I hope that I have not caused you lasting offence.

          I have felt unease for some time about how SNP leadership responds when found to be in the wrong or to be making errors of judgement. I have personal experience of this.

          I would be happy for the words ‘…(or maybe not)… ‘ to be deleted from my comment. I do think the leadership has lost it’s way on this issue.

          My subsidiary point about how this will be played with belongs much later in the discussion threads -if at all.

          Thank you for your hard work

          • craig Post author

            Thanks Douglas. Am being attacked a fair bit elsewhere as a “unionist plant” and I still get over-sensitive to criticism, which you would think I would be inured to by now.

          • Clark

            Craig: – “I still get over-sensitive to criticism, which you would think I would be inured to by now”

            I know what that’s like and I sympathise. Such suspicion from those who support one’s own cause are more distressing than all the smears and ridicule from enemy camps put together.

        • Random Person

          It’s actually sad and fascinating – and a little disturbing – to see what mental contortions SNP supporters will go to to blame anybody but Nicola Sturgeon for any mistake she makes. That is not the sign of a healthy, enquiring populace, it’s the sign of a cult. Though I do get where they are coming from, because unfortunately the mainstream media so disgustingly attacks the SNP and Ms. Sturgeon morning, noon and night. They have a siege mentality.

  • Republicofscotland

    So where do these revelations leave us with regards to Sturgeon calling an indyref2? I’m hoping it’s still on the cards, that she’ll name a date in the coming weeks like she indicated she would.

    Obviously Sturgeon is going to stand by Evans and MacKinnon to save further loss of face. I hope she doesn’t forget why we elected her in the first place.

      • Jo1

        She should never have stood by Evans. At the time of the ruling the words Craig has repeated today were quite clear. Unfair. Unlawful. Tainted with bias.
        Evans tried to water down the ruling. That was shocking enough. That Nicola has done the same is something else again. How on earth could she defend such, in Evans’ case, gross misconduct? For that’s what it is when you deliberately set someone up. And that’s what Evans did along with McKinnon. Nicola didn’t even say she needed time to consider the ruling. Nope! She was right in there, backing Evans, ignoring the words used in the ruling.

        That Evans has survived this, so far, is quite extraordinary. She should be facing disciplinary action herself.

        The other even more extraordinary thing is that Holyrood doesn’t want to know about Evans’ misconduct. Carlaw and Leonard wanted a Parliamentary Inquiry so that they could solely go after Nicola over her meetings with Salmond. They don’t care that thousands of civil servants in Scotland have, at the top, a woman who interfered shamelessly with a formal investigation process.

        Nicola Sturgeon has sunk to levels I would not have thought her capable of. There is no excuse she could offer that justifies her decision to back Evans. I hope Salmond takes the SG all the way. The damage has been done. The truth needs to come out. And sending her “aides” out to accuse Salmond of “smearing” her doesn’t cut it.

    • Shatnersrug

      She’s a blairite stooge fellas. Look at this whole pathetic affair – so far so blairite. You aren’t going to get your independence under Nicola, surely that’s obvious now.

      • Milllsy

        Independence is not in anyone’s gift – certainly not Nicola’s . It is a movement whose time has come – and no individual is going to derail it !

  • Bibbit

    I think Nicola Sturgeon and her husband should step aside. Of course NS’s successor will become the same target of British nationalists’ ridicule and smear; as has every SNP leader since they were formed in 1934.

  • Thepnr

    Were you aware Craig that David Clegg has claimed that he first got a tip off about the allegations against Alex Salmond a week before Nov 7th 2017?

    “Acting on a tip off, we submitted a series of questions to the Scottish Government on October 31 in a bid to ascertain if any complaints had been made about Alex Salmond during his tenure as first minister.

    The answer came back that no ministers had been the subject of an official complaint since the SNP came to power in 2007 and that there were no live investigations.”


  • iain

    Salmond is one of the great spokesmen and campaigners for independence. Why are they trying to cut the legs from him? Surely it cannot only be due to him opposing war and the demonization of Russia, Chine and so on?

    • Shatnersrug

      Come on Iain, take off the Indyhope glasses for a minute. Straight after the Indy ref Alec stated he would carry on as first minister. Only to stand down soon after, then he’s replace by a feminist leader who appears to talk tough but actually does very little. She sings in chorus with the British secret service re skipral and even “Corbyn’s a spy” nonsense. She’s a Scots Yvette Cooper. The British have a long history of controlled opposition, Salmond had made them look the fool for years. After the ref they simply wouldnt permit another attempt for Scottish independence.

      I don’t know how you could trust her anymore that you might trust Hariot Harman

  • Yer Tea's Oot

    It is important to remember that had these officials not been so utterly incompetent and devious, that leak would have left Alex Salmond facing an ongoing police investigation with his reputation being slowly but surely trashed by the passage of time, to the extent that even the by now inevitable dismissal of the complaints would not repair.

    I’ve also heard that SNP HQ emailed all employees from the time of Salmond’s leadership encouraging anyone who felt they might have been the victim of harassment to come forward. If SNP HQ was also part of this vindictive effort that cannot be laid at the door of civil servants.

  • Orrsmith

    I absolutely agree with all your points about how this case was dealt with and that Lesley Evans should have resigned or been sacked
    Was any of this disgraceful business deliberately designed to remove Alex Salmond entirely from politics in Scotland?
    Nicola should consider her position too
    I believe she has shown her true self and displayed her character as having no loyalty to the man who mentored her, gave his life to the SNP and to his country. She certainly should have followed the basic rule of law and for her friend, supporting him as ‘innocent until proven guilty’
    She has no honour – a quality sadly lacking in her and in her administration.

    • Random Person

      Yes, why is Ms. Sturgeon trying to cut the legs from under Mr. Salmond, and support two mendacious feminist ideologues over the man who mentored her? It’s a good question.

      • Mist001

        There is a link of course, Kezia Dugdale and Jenny Gilruth, Labour and SNP. The pillowtalk might be interesting. Then there’s Ruth and another whose name escapes me………….;-)

  • Lorna Campbell

    I certainly do not know the circumstances you allude to and nor do I have the sources you do, but this whole affair stank from day one. I agree with you that the appointment of people from furth of Scotland for almost every top post is a recipe for disaster, and it is in this area that a number of previous mistakes have been made in other realms of Scottish life. That is not to suggest that people from outwith Scotland are less capable, or that they should be banned from applying, but a thorough working knowledge of Scotland must be a pre-requisite for such a post. I suspect that this is also where Richard Leonard’s weekly duff report about something or other which purports to be Scottish, falls down.

    I am not unduly surprised either that the Sir Humphreys of the Cabinet Office would be queasy about this type of procedure, but, of course, if Leslie Evans had brought this up with the Cabinet Office, and if she had hinted at who was to be investigated under its auspices, an alert Bernard might well have made hay with that by passing the information on to a Sir Humphrey who then passed it on to the Thames Embankment, leaving aside anyone leaking to David Clegg, who has probably ensured that the breach of what should have been sub judice information, will almost certainly alert Mr Salmond’s lawyers to the impossibility of a fair trial for their client regardless of the fruitfulness or otherwise of the police investigations. In their shoes, that is what I would be doing because, in Scots Law, as in other legal jurisdictions, the Presumption of Innocence is the golden thread which winds its way through our entire criminal legal system. It would appear that the new procedure was designed to be quasi-judicial in nature.

    Five years is a long time for a complaint to be laid to rest (in normal circumstances, not, I hasten to add, if it was a child or there was some very good reason for its not being pursued at the time) before being resurrected, and, if at least one of the women had to be ‘persuaded’ to bring it up again, that is not a good look. Like every woman, I know that many men have gotten away with treating us like a commodity for far too long (the old wine, women and song entitlement, and we come second to the booze) and they are meeting their Nemesis at last, but that should not rule out proper and legal procedure, with no short-cuts. If proper procedure is not followed, any case should fall, and Lord Pentland’s ruling was both fair and balanced, and thirdly, accurate as to the flaws in the new procedure. Men, far more than women, are open to false allegations of a sexual nature and it is no accident that every security service the world over uses the honey trap to catch stupid men whose brains are situated in their lower parts. That, in no way, means that they should be trapped, but just that they are susceptible, as, of course, will be some women. I can only hope that this was a mishmash of over-eagerness to help the women and a willingness to see women given the opportunity to bring to task ‘handy andies’, as we used to call them long ago in days of yore (nobody bothers now, thank goodness, and I often think that, if men actually overheard how women, talking together, regard them in that light, they might refrain through sheer humiliation) and not a deliberate attempt to blacken the character of a leading light of the Scottish independence movement for whatever reason.

    As to what Nicola Sturgeon knew and did not know, let us not pre-judge or we are equally guilty of jumping the gun and condemning without proper procedure. What the independence movement cannot accept is a split along gender lines now, so, please, Ms Sturgeon and Mr Salmond, let egos rest and rescue us from this madness that we have found ourselves in through no fault of our own. If you fall – and, if this came from outwith, they will have wanted both to fall – so do we, and so does Scotland. What must never happen again is that the law is compromised, no matter what the subject matter concerned or who is concerned, and civil servants have proved to be both sources of leaks and instruments of political intrigue in the past.

    • David

      Couldn’t be more right regards the prevalence of English people in top posts in private & public sectors plus academia.

      I used to consider it an extension of ‘the cringe’ but nowadays simply believe it overt colonisation at worst, chumocracy at best. It certainly isn’t competence.

    • Jo1

      Sorry Lorna, the last thing you can ask is that people don’t pre-judge Nicola. She read the ruling, she heard the ruling. Unfair. Unlawful. Tainted with bias. From a judge. Her immediate response was what?
      She watered down the judgement, just as Evans had.
      She publicly backed Evans.
      She apologised to the accusers, but ignored the accused who had been subjected to that unfair, unlawful and tainted with bias investigation. No apology for him! He wasn’t even mentioned.

      I understand that it’s deeply concerning for this to have happened as there is no doubt it has done damage and given the media a field day. But whose fault is that? I think the biggest shock came when Nicola chose to back Evans. While she will certainly have learned a great deal from working with Alex Salmond, at times she seems very naïve indeed.

      • Black Joan

        The First Minister (reluctantly, at the behest of Carlaw etc, and after some delay) referred herself to a Standards Panel. What are the chances of that Panel having access to this information (and the rest that Craig mentions but which was not aired in open court) and finding that her behaviour has been unacceptable? And is the Standards Panel sufficiently gender-balanced to be taken seriously?

        • Jo1

          I don’t know how the Standards Investigation will work or what it will look at. It appears to be about Sturgeon’s contact with Salmond. I am happy to be corrected.

          The Parliamentary Inquiry will be, pretty much, Party-political. I think an Independent Inquiry was needed. Carlaw and Leonard aren’t interested in Evans’ role in conducting an investigation which breached the CS Code. They’re just after Sturgeon.

          It’s not clear how much access the Standards Investigation will have to the whole case. Perhaps Craig would know. I think however that the ongoing police investigation will cause issues as will any further action Salmond is bringing against the SG. These things may limit what can be made public.

          • Black Joan

            Thanks. Yes, you’re right that Carlaw and Leonard are hoping the Standards Panel will unearth something dodgy about NS’s meetings with AS, and I agree that the behaviour of the Permanent Secretary is not their concern (though it clearly should be), but they or their underlings presumably read Craig’s blog, or will be aware of the talk among the lawyers and of what was said in open court, so I wonder if they will attempt to widen the scope of the Standards Panel’s inquiry.
            It’s all very murky and disappointing.

      • Lorna Campbell

        Pre-judging is exactly what we must not do. That is precisely what was done in Mr Salmond’s case. I’m not sure at what point Ms Sturgeon knew that the procedure was flawed, Jo1, but, as she was supposed not to have had any input into it, then we have to assume that it was at the point that the judge, Lord Pentland, gave his ruling. I agree with you that backing Ms Evans after that point was certainly questionable, but, I think, Ms Sturgeon is loyal to people to a degree that is commendable in normal life, and all too rare, but is a burden in political life. What concerns me even more is that little appears to have been learned from the Carmichael affair; Ms Sturgeon must assume at all times that she is a target, and, through her, her party and the SNP government. It is not a comfortable position to be in, and could induce paranoia, but, politically, in the state that the UK is in now, and in the knowledge that the SNP will be regarded by the powers-that-be to be subversive, she cannot afford to trust again those who have let her down. We do not know what the relationship between Mr Salmond and Ms Sturgeon became after she came to power as FM, but, gleaning from body language at the conferences, I would think it had cooled somewhat, which, I suppose, was to be expected.

        • Jo1

          The only place to start from, in order to be sure what she knew and when, is the point where the judge’s ruling was given, so let’s do that.

          So there’s Nicola, she’s received confirmation of the ruling. She’s taking in the whole thing. She knows it was actually televised and so we, the folk out here, have actually heard it too. We know the bottom line. The judge’s bottom line, and Nicola has now heard it, is not pretty.

          Unfair, unlawful, tainted with bias.

          My judgement of Nicola starts from that point Lorna. Those words are the judge’s, not an interpretation of what he said. She was FM and a judge had just assessed the process followed by her most senior Civil Servant in damning terms. Her immediate response to the ruling therefore had to recognise the seriousness and implications of the ruling.

          She had options. She could have said she wished to take time to consider the ruling. She didn’t. Instead, she backed her most senior Civil Servant’s methods and rehashed the ruling to make it sound trivial. As soon as she did that, she was asking to be judged for having chosen to support all that was done in an investigation which had led a judge to denounce the process followed during it.

          There were other signs too. She could easily have offered apologies to all parties in the case. But, no. She apologised only to the accusers. She stressed the need to support victims in such circumstances. She failed completely to mention the subject of her Permanent Secretary’s dodgy investigation at all.

          So I’m judging Nicola. I don’t know what she’s become caught up in but it stinks. She’s damaged her government, her Party and the quest for Independence. But mostly, she’s damaged herself.

  • The 62%

    Once a “corrupt information loop” is in play, and people are compromised by the corruption, it becomes impossible for people to act 100% honestly, as they have already been corrupted. Corruption breeds corruption. This is one of the greatest problems in the UK and USA at present. People who should be in jail, are not, as the whole chain has been corrupted.

    Everyone to do with the case against Salmond should resign, including the first minister. It will all be swept under the carpet and the criminal case against Mr Salmond will be dropped most likely.

    • Shatnersrug

      Yes, that’s my fear, most of the Westminster front bench should be in prison, which is why calling a GE is not a particularly pleasing option to them, this is how dictatorships begin.

  • Charles Bostock

    I have two thoughts about this article.

    Firstly, it is distasteful to see Murray, who claims to have been hounded out of his job, attempting to hound out an other civil servant from hers (cf the title).

    Secondly, it is small beer and above all parochial. Grubby (or perhaps not grubby) goings on in the civil service and “government” of a region of the United Kingdom. Of interest only to ScotsNats. Is this blog turning into a ScotsNat, pro-independence blog? If so, I suggest that, in an over-crowded market, other blogs and websites are doing the job better.

    • SA

      Mr Charlie
      Surely even you can see the difference between someone hounded out of his job for objecting to human rights abuses and collusion with torture and murder by our government and a civil servant trying to pervert the course of justice and been found out .
      As to the content of this post, the blog owner has the right to speak out what he wants to and with his knowledge and inside information always has a lot to contribute especially in a subject and a cause he believes in. Others who are not interested should simply go away and shurrup, to use the current diplomatic language rife in Westminster.

    • Jo1

      As someone who spent thirty years in the Civil Service, let me explain something.

      When a CS Investigation is begun there are clear procedures which must be followed, even in those involving staff, and managers, far lower down the pay scale from the Permanent Secretary.

      If any manager, any ordinary manager that is, was found to have run an investigation which was “unfair, unlawful and tainted with bias” they would be facing a formal disciplinary hearing. Leslie Evans is no ordinary manager. She is head of the Civil Service in Scotland and Permanent Secretary to the Scottish Government. Her position is untenable.

      It’s a shame you choose to try and wind people up by saying Scottish affairs are trivial when we are actually talking about a senior Civil Service figure who has been exposed as having used corrupt methods in an official investigation.

      • Vivian O'Blivion

        Jo, given your experience of the CS, do you have any specific comment on Sturgeon’s statement that McKinnon was acting only in a “welfare councilling and advice” capacity and Craig’s assertion that one of the complainants had left the CS prior to McKinnon’s involvement?

        • Jo1

          I found the statement odd, given NS had also said she’d had no knowledge of the investigation. It suggested to me she’d been told to say that, rather than she knew it to be the case. The emergence of the facts around MacKinnon’s true role makes her statement look even worse.
          The huge issue for me was MacKinnon’s early involvement and then her appointment as Investigating Officer. That’s a complete no-no. The IO can’t have been involved with any of the parties as they’re required to be impartial and have no previous knowledge of the case. The fact that McKinnon was on a digging exercise and had such frequent contact with the accusers but was then able to be the IO is extraordinary. Only someone of Evans’grade would have been able to pull a stunt like that and get away with it.

          This is the first time I’ve heard of a former civil servant being contacted by a senior manager and persuaded to bring a complaint but there are a few firsts in this case!

          I’ve never heard either of an issue previously settled informally being resurrected five years later and turned into a formal complaint. (My understanding is that it’s not normally permissable to do that. If the case was settled informally to the satisfaction of both parties it cannot then be converted to a new grievance further down the line.)

          And I’ve definitely never heard of the posh Civil Servants’ Union, the FDA, having its General Secretary issue Press Releases all over the shop defending a senior Civil Servant who’s just had a judge trash her investigation and attacking a former FM over a case it had no involvement in.

      • Charles Bostock


        But in the greater scheme of things, the events described by Craig Murray ARE trivial. After all, Mr Salmond isn’t even a politician anymore, with his fingers on the levers of power….is he?

        • Jo1

          I don’t care if it’s Salmond or Joe Soap. When the most senior Civil Servant runs a bent official investigation against anyone and her methods are publicly exposed by a JUDGE, it is NOT trivial.

  • Jack

    Corbyn once again doing what neoliberals want, second referendum. Will it be third then by whoever lose the second one? Come on, there was 1 referendum, accept with the outcome!

    • Shatnersrug

      God, since the establishment completely reveal itself in the last 4 years, first with Corbyn then Brexit then with May and her lost majority it’s pretty clear that the entire British state, including Holyrood is a case of managed opposition. How on earth are we every to get away from this?

      • Milllsy

        Independence is not in anyone’s gift – certainly not Nicola’s nor any party . It is a movement whose time has come – and no individual is going to derail it !

  • Sharp Ears

    This is all she has had to say today:

    Leslie Evans
    Looking forward to seeing
    ‘s iconic diplodocus dinosaur skeleton @KelvingroveArt today – there until 6 May. #Dippyontour

    Leslie Evans Retweeted
    Scottish Government
    ?️‍? We’re proud to have been recognised by @stonewallscot
    as an #LGBT inclusive employer.

    You can find out more about working for the Scottish Government at (link: http://bit.ly/ScotGovJobs) bit.ly/ScotGovJobs

  • Charles Bostock

    Judging by some of the comments on Mrs Sturgeon, the “Scottish Revolution” seems to be devouring its children. It didn’t take long, did it…..

  • Northern

    As a casual observer with only limited exposure to any of the horses in the race, perhaps these are asinine questions but ones that still strike me upon reading below the line here (By way of caveat, as an English leave voter of classic left persuasion, I respect the Scottish people’s right to self governance – anything less I’d consider hypocritical);

    Would it not be more effective to take a more conciliatory tone towards the English public at large? I had assumed the Scottish hostility towards the English was greatly exaggerated by pro-Westminster media outlets, but certain commentators below the line here shame the same mentality in spades seemingly. I can totally understand the frustration with ‘the establishment’ but to allow that resentment to be channelled towards the English people as a whole surely just plays into Westminster’s exceptionally mucky hands? I see the English and Scottish working classes suffering under the same yoke, I think it’s a shame we allow ourselves to be divided so easily.

    Secondly, at what point do Scottish Nationalist’s decide to unhitch their wagon from Nicola, or even the SNP as a whole, to go even further? Surely at a certain point, Nicola’s support for the proven liars in this case will be used by Westminster to hurt the cause for independence?

    • iain

      Sorry, what hostile, shameful comments about the English do you see here? Care to cite them?

    • Douglas

      Thanks Northern,
      I can assure you that my quarrel is with Britishness as an imperial ideology that has caused huge harm in the world, not with England (where I grew up).
      Britishness has been a curse for Scots, English, Welsh, Irish, Indians, Malays, Chinese, Africans… the sun never sets on the harm done.
      I hope that Scottish Independence will give hope to England that there is an alternative way.

    • Iain Stewart

      “Would it not be more effective to take a more conciliatory tone towards the English public at large?”
      Well said, let’s all try to be nicer. (But does that include towards our old pal Michael “Up Yours Jock” Norton, then?)

    • Lorna Campbell

      What hostility towards English people at large? There is none. Since, as you admit yourself, you have limited knowledge of the scene, please do not ascribe motives to people that they do not possess. Suffice it to say that a decent working knowledge of, or at the very least, a bit of boning up on, the part of the UK, or, indeed, any area, abroad or otherwise, ought to be a pre-requisite for jobs that involve that area’s public policy, etc. In Scotland, that is sadly lacking in a number of public arenas, as the latest debacle in Holyrood over Welsh mountains being passed off as Scottish ones shows, as if the locals are too thick to notice and too cringeworthy to protest. That is justified, and certainly not in any sense anti-English. I am quite sure that English people would protest if a German started telling them that the Transylvanian Mountains in Romania were actually the Derbyshire Peaks and thought they wouldn’t notice? No? Equally, it should be a pre-requisite to know about the Scottish legal system if you are to be working with it to establish public policies, wouldn’t you agree?

  • Mairi Nicola morrison

    You have hit the nail on the head. And from Lear ‘how sharper than a serpents tooth is an ungrateful child ‘

  • yesindyref2

    It’s a courageous article, a thought provoker, and perhaps too a bit of a devil’s advocate one, who knows?

  • Jefferson

    If humans are to have a form of government such as Representative Democracy, then the public has to adopt an attitude of Zero Tolerance for liars. After all, the presence of liars renders as ridiculous all speeches, statements, manifestos, etc of the people who want the job of being the Representative of the people. When a government lies about what it is doing, or when a candidate lies about what they will do if elected, then what as really occurred is a coup de etat against the entire notion that the people have a say in their government. The Liar has thus grabbed all power away from the people. For there to be any true democracy, then the people have to adopt an attitude of Zero Tolerance towards any liars. Of course, the media machines of those who hate the concept of the people having a say in their government tell us all the time that all politicians lie and that this is normal and quite acceptable. This of course is just the mass media that should not be trusted participating in the coup against the people and democracy.

    • lysias

      Lying is an inevitable part of human nature. Rather than trying the hopeless task of ending lying, end the practice of electing representatives and adopt the Athenian pratice of choosing representatives by lot. In that way, the people will be fairly represented no matter who lies and tells the truth.

      • Donald McGregor

        In our future, I’d like to think this can be a core part of our democracy. Somewhere out there is a (the Common Weal’s?) proposal for for a second chamber of Government populated by citizens, drawn (and required) at ‘random’ to serve for a selected time period and be paid a selected ‘citizens income’ for so doing.

        • Stonky

          Somewhere out there is a (the Common Weal’s?) proposal for for a second chamber of Government populated by citizens, drawn (and required) at ‘random’ to serve for a selected time period and be paid a selected ‘citizens income’ for so doing…

          Did they nick that idea from me? I’ve been peddling it without success for years. Didn’t know there was actually somebody out there who agreed with me.

          • Paul Cockshott

            We were promoting the idea in the Workers Party of Scotland back in the 80s when we were organising against the poll tax. It was easy to see that such a tax would ne er have been passed by a citizens assembly chosen by lot.

  • Sharp Ears

    ‘Sexual harassment complaints relating to Mr Salmond’s time in office were made in January 2018 by two female civil servants.

    The former Gordon MP denies the allegations, which are the subject of an ongoing police investigation.

    Mr Salmond re-issued his resignation call for the head of Scotland’s civil service, who oversaw the bungled government probe but has been backed by her boss Ms Sturgeon.

    He said: “I find it staggering that Leslie Evans has refused to accept responsibility and take the obvious course of action.”’

    Alex Salmond calls for an end to SNP’s uncivil war
    January 20th 2019

  • Vivian O'Blivion

    Here’s hoping that Alex will sue and have his day in Court, but never underestimate the ability of Police Scotland to string an investigation out for years when it suits (and the high heid yins at Police Scotland are beholden to Bute House for their position).
    Also, remember the outrageous suggestion that in the event of Police Scotland clearing Alex, there would be a THIRD Civil Service enquiry.

      • Vivian O'Blivion

        Politics and appearances. Alex has to be seen to allow the Police Scotland investigation to reach its conclusion. After that, assuming he is cleared, yes by all means sue and bugger any subsequent Civil Service re-investigation.

  • N_

    Strange to hear that a closed shop of rich moneygrabbing mutual back-scratching inheritance-thieving notorious swindler lawyers in Edinburgh forms part of “national heritage”. The phrase “up against the wall with the lot of them” comes to mind. What would John Maclean have thought?

    In other news, Polly Toynbee says “No-deal Brexit is a Dad’s Army parody and I refuse to stockpile”. What an idiot. There are few better ways of saying “I’m an idiot” than scoffing at something new and that you don’t well understand by referring to a television series. No the divisions in government bunkers are not like in “Game of Thrones” and the real-life mafia is not like “The Sopranos”, and so on and so forth, and those who have little TV sets in the brains can huddle together and talk among themselves and not bother the sentient sanies, as far as I am concerned. Oh and Polly’s ancestor Arnold Toynbee stole the phrase “the industrial revolution” from Louis-August Blanqui.

    • able

      Last week she was in fine fettle, looking forward to leave voters dying:

      “This Saturday Britain turns a remainer nation: more young remainers joined the electoral register, more old leavers died. A Final Say vote would stop the will of dead ruling over the will of the young.”

      If she senses any threat to her Tuscan villa I fear she may start killing them off herself!

      • N_

        One thing that’s crystal clear from the story that “Remain overtook Leave today – just in time for the Sunday papers – because sufficient numbers of elderly Leavers have now died” is that “Professor John Curtice the polling expert” is nothing more than a gun for hire.

        In the event of another referendum, will they let 16-year-olds vote?

        And how long has Theresa May got left in Downing Street? If there’s a referendum with a Remain option, she surely can’t run with “I voted Remain three years ago but now I’m voting Leave because that’s what a majority of voters did then”. And she can’t really opt for “I work for clients, and they instructed me to negotiate a plan for Leaving, which I did, but my own personal preference is Remain” either. Then there’s abstention. And refusing to say which way she’s voting. None of these look good at all. There’s got to be some kind of limit to ridiculousness somewhere. Better to get out of office and fade away.

        I once read that in five-set tennis matches in which one player recovers from two sets behind it’s the player who won the first two sets who is far more likely to win the match.


    One week she was attacking a shoe company for the perfectly legal name it gave one of its’ brands.
    The next week she was attacking the very name of the party she’s supposed to be leading.
    Like most ideologues, she is cuckoo!

    She never said a word about Scottish independence from becoming SNP leader right up until the day after the EU referendum, when she behaved like a dirty wee backstabber to those in Scotland who want REAL independence. Because of that she turned almost the whole of NE Scotland (the SNP heartland) Tory with her absolutely mince “tactics”.
    Her behaviour in this matter of Alex is further proof that she is a dirty wee backstabber!

    For the first time in many decades I got a bloody Tory MP, who looks like a psycho, because of her!
    She let the Tories back into Number 10!!
    And she’s leading the Scottish independence movement into the gutter!!!


    “Sturgeon is what happens when a SJW gets control of a country – free tampons and failed policies.”

    • Susan Smith

      NE Scotland voted No in 2014 – hardly what you’d have expected from the SNP heartland .

    • N_

      There’s certainly a lot of confusion in Scotland about what real independence means. For example even in these comments sections the view has been expressed that citizenship should be sorted out in the fullness of time, all things considered, a good while after independence day. What that boils down to is the government of an independent country telling its own citizens that it can’t help them if they get into trouble abroad and that if they do find themselves in trouble abroad they should contact the rUK consulate and wave their British passports – except if they’re actually in rUK in which case they can go to hell, because they won’t be any of Scotgov’s concern. Not a good look. Not much point in having a consular presence in London if this is how it rolls. But it’s not as if there wouldn’t be a period of time between referendum and independence. As I’ve said before, the Indy camp has a tough job winning support from potential floaters. The “you’re just promoting Project Fear” quacking isn’t much help,

      • N_

        Also to meet the criteria for joining the EU a state is required to have an independent central bank. During the last campaign the Indy side started shouting “you’re just doing Scotland down” when it came out that the ratings agencies didn’t much fancy giving high scores to an independent Scotland. The way round this? To print a “poond”? Fine but who in the international finance markets will buy it? Or will Wall Street, Frankfurt and the hedge funds all be denounced too? To go straight into the euro? Again, fine, but not a good look when state protection of living standards won’t be allowed to be top of the agenda.

        • Stonky

          Also to meet the criteria for joining the EU a state is required to have an independent central bank.

          Oddly enough, like every single one of the other “reasons why an independent Scotland will be booted out of the EU”, this one wasn’t going to apply to England either.

  • SA

    Divide and rule.
    Specific types of racism
    Identity politics
    Surely everyone should acknowledge universal truths before recognizing particular one. Under socialism there would be no need for all of these divisive notions. But of course not only have neo-liberals encouraged these splits in unity but they even ascribe these to the left, and some in the left wallow in these divisions without recognizing the inherent divisiveness of all these -isms.

    • able

      A lot of them on here like to wallow in race-baiting and identity politics, SA. If you take Craig, for example, merely to express any concern at all about immigration is racist. It’s a major tactic of the left, not something ascribed to them by “neoliberals”.

      • SA

        Anon 1
        If I remember correctly you have indulged in race bating before so it may not be peculiar to the left . Also What some perceive as left wing is what true socialist believe is somewhat to the centre of Genghis Khan , For example it is common in the US to believe that Clinton and her ilk are ‘socialist’. They would not know socialism if it had hit them with a barge pole.
        Again a true socialist would look at immigration as both harmful to the immigrants and their countries from which they come and try to cure the cause of massive immigration whilst being humane to those already caught in the trap. But the neoliberals use immigration caused by the unfettered capitalism that they espouse, both to exploit the immigrants for their cheap labour and to beat the workers but also as a bogeyman. Have you any explanation why Theresa May failed to curb immigration even whilst she had the tools to do so?

  • Jm


    Re my post higher up the page (2nd comment).

    I wasn’t at all questioning you or this excellent piece.

    Just more a random mulling.

    Apologies if it read that way.

  • Vronsky

    I could wish that there were no more to Nicola’s behaviour than blind obsession with gender equality and a mystical belief in the infallibility of women, but I doubt it. There is a long history of malice aforethought here, as this is not the first attempt by the right of the SNP to remove Alex Salmond.
    The party’s inertia on the calling of a second referendum on independence is daily becoming more difficult to defend. There comes a time when playing the long game means not playing at all. Nicola should go and Salmond should step up as leader at least in the interim – I find it hard to trust anyone else, although I know Salmond has his faults too.

    • Random Person

      There is honestly a part of me that believes that Ms. Sturgeon has never fully grown up, and is still stuck in the PC-embryonic 80s that spawned her long-term right-on (except towards men) beliefs that she still (erroneously) acts on.

  • Colin Alexander

    Craig, thanks for having the courage to speak out.

    I’ve also been warning about the SG / SNP under Ms Sturgeon’s leadership but only got abuse for my troubles. I even emailed you on the 9th of January 2019 hoping we could discuss things.

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