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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  • Paul Greenwood

    Bavaria had a political scandal called “AmigoAffair” back in 1993 – one of many – but the one with its own soubriquet “Amigoland”. I always think of Scotland under labour hegemony and now SNP hegemony in this frame of reference.

    That Sturgeon wanted to frame up Salmond was so very obvious and as a Solicitor she is no doubt well-versed in withholding evidence and distorting time-frames but Salmond is no wilting violet and knows the routine. Political Legalism is so commonplace as to be everyday. I find it odd that a Code of Conduct can be retrospective and look forward to Acts of Attainder being pushed through Holyrood to bring Sturgeon to trial as soon as her grip on the State Machinery is relaxed.

    Nothing you write here Craig surprises. I was however somewhat sceptical about these accusations against Salmond from the shrewish dwarf that replaced him and her total inadequacy makes Scotland look like some Bulgarian or Romanian kleptocracy, not that I would buy a second-hand car or double-glazing from Salmond

  • Chris Hanlon

    In Sunday’s interview Alec publicly announced that he had asked his supporters to shut the heck up about this.

    Craig, take a moment and search your heart, are you not a supporter of Alec Salmond or are you not loyal to his wishes?

    • craig Post author

      I am very loyal to Alex, Chris, and very sensitive to his wishes. Consider the possibility I know them better than you.

    • Jo1

      This isn’t about “his supporters” or “her supporters”. If you pay more attention you’ll see it’s about much more than that.

  • Stephen Ambartzakis

    “To promote a woman to bear rule, superiority, dominion or empire above any realm, nation or city, is repugnant to nature; contumely to God, a thing most contrary to His revealed will and approved ordinance; and finally, it is a subversion of good order, of all equity and justice” A wise man was John Knox

  • Stonky

    Anyone who expects any sanction at all against either Evans or Mackinnon is naive to the point of stupidity.

    The utter contempt of those who rule for those who are ruled could not have been made clearer than in the Mackay case. I’m talking about that loathsome police coward who crouched in his car, while a few feet away one of his men was butchered by a terrorist. He then slunk off home without even bothering to find out if the man was still alive.

    100 years ago the matter would have been resolved with a pistol and a bottle of whisky. 50 years ago he would have been drummed out of office and never dared show his face again in public. 30 years ago the matter would have been hushed up and we would never have been allowed to find out about it. 15 years ago there would have been a mild keffuffle, and he would have greased his way out one door and then greased his way back in again through another.

    Now they don’t even bother to pretend. One piece of dog excrement masquerading as a human being stands up in public and shamelessly informs us on behalf of another piece of dog excrement masquerading as a human being that Mackay “did a great job”. And that’s your lot.

  • fwl

    Is the current Lord Pentland a life peer or a relation of the Gurdjieff leader, the late Henry Sinclair, aka Lord Pentland?

  • John McLeod

    This comment relates to Craig’s article, rather than any of the other issues that have entered the discussion thread. It seems to me that, through his connections, Craig has been able to add a bit of detail to what we already know – that the investigation of the complaints against Alex Salmond were procedurally flawed. There are on-going further investigations into this, and seems clear from some of the contributions in the discussion thread that the First Minister has limited scope to take action on her own initiative (i.e., not constitutionally allowed to ask for the resignation of the head of civil service, required to stand aside from these investigations, etc). I would advise that we just wait for these investigations to do their work and make their reports, and keep up the pressure for this to be done in a timely. respectful and transparent manner. What I strongly object to in Craig’s article, and some of the further discussion posts, is the implication that any of this is linked to the feminist bias of the First Minister. I am proud that Scotland is currently run by three women who have been to state schools and non-elite universities. This is an essential rebalancing of the previous male-dominated state of affairs that has prevailed in the UK for centuries. I am also proud that the Scottish government is committed to equality and inclusiveness in all areas of its work, for instance in relation to sexual orientation, ethnicity, etc. It is completely wrong to use one episode of administrative incompetence (the inquiry into allegations made about Alex Salmond) to bring these other major achievements into question.

    • craig Post author

      Thank you John for that dull virtue-signaling. Personally I don’t care at all what gender, colour or sexuality people are, as long as they are up to the job. Evans and Mackinnon plainly are not. I am rather more interested in your alternative explanation of Sturgeon’s extraordinary behaviour, which I encourage you to give.

      • John

        Maybe Alex is a bit touchy feely, and maybe some women are attracted to power, and people in power. Maybe she knows this and us trying to navigate away from it as best she can.

        • Grouse Beater

          Or perhaps Salmon is *not8 touchy-feely as john puts it. Personally, I have seen no evidence to suggest categorically he chases anything except currys. Men who take such risks with their careers invariably have a long track record. I see none.

        • John McLeod

          At the risk of being accused of even more dull virtue signalling,…. I am not in a position to have an explanation for how the First Minister has handled this situation. It seems to me that the harassment case put her in an extremely difficult position. It involved a mix of personal loyalties and official roles/responsibilities. This could have played out in many different ways. I think we should wait for the on-going investigations to make their reports.

          • Jo1

            The allegations would absolutely have put her in a difficult position. Wouldn’t argue there. The court ruling on the investigation, however, was clear and seriously damaged the reputation of the Scottish Civil Service. The person at the top of that investigation was responsible. NS owed it to everyone working in the Scottish Civil Service to immediately refer Evans’conduct to the appropriate body for urgent advice.

            Instead, she came out and backed her.

      • able

        “Personally I don’t care at all what gender, colour or sexuality people are, as long as they are up to the job”

        That’s funny, because you call the criticism of the plainly incompetent Diane Abbott “a gross example of racism”.

        • leonard young

          “That’s funny, because you call the criticism of the plainly incompetent Diane Abbott “a gross example of racism”.

          Well firstly, Diane Abbott has not stitched anyone up, and secondly she got some figures wrong once, and now apparently that means her entire tenure in parliament is “incompetent” in your view. The two circumstances could not be more different. And being up to the job doesn’t just mean competence; it also means integrity.

        • giyane


          I didn’t watch the QT in question because I don’t have a tv. I wonder why I don’t have a tv. Basically because I don’t like people with whom I completely agree being mocked as if their opinions were completely incomprehensible.

          Overton window is U

      • John McLeod

        At the risk of being accused of even more dull virtue signalling,…. I am not in a position to have an explanation for how the First Minister has handled this situation. It seems to me that the harassment case put her in an extremely difficult position. It involved a mix of personal loyalties and official roles/responsibilities. This could have played out in many different ways. I think we should wait for the on-going investigations to make their reports.

          • giyane

            Racism should be challenged immediately. In this case feminist racism against a man. Millions of men get accused of bad behaviour by women who want to steal their property. It’s called marriage. In this case the motive was purely political. It cost half million quid to rectify.

            I know it’s fashionable amongst the 1%ers of ERG to dismiss a few million as if they were a few p, but that’s what I call a vote of confidence. Not how many times Deep-Smog can waft his ferremones on the BBC

    • Contrary

      Using feminism as the reason behind Nicola Sturgeon protecting the two civil servants involved in an unwholesome dereliction of duty, then directly links feminism to being in a kind of group that is warped by some kind of man hating agenda where they would throw away any sense in the pursuit of ruining lives. The premise that these three are feminists, and they behave in an atrocious manner then leads to all feminists behave in this manner,,,

      Nearly any reasoning could be used to link the behaviour of these three people, but I could not ‘keep an open mind’ when feminism was thrown into the mix – for no reason as far as I can see – thereby, whether on purpose or not, rendering any ‘outrageous’ ideas of equality for women as an extreme view driven by a need to damage lives.

      If that really is the link, the implication that of course they are going to gang up because they feminists – well, I can only see it as a way as tarring a whole group with one brush, and certain types of people will jump on this to bolster any anti-equality views. Life is difficult enough, without these views being given credence. We are all people.

      • craig Post author


        It cannot possible be construed in the article that all feminists behave in this atrocious manner, nor do I believe that. I do think the MeToo movement led some feminists to go overboard and to believe the presumption of innocence should be abolished and due process was fuddy-duddy and unimportant. I think there is ample evidence such thinking underlay the appalling breeches of procedure in this case.

        • Contrary

          Sorry, I should not have written that comment, effectively criticising your opinion – I should have stuck to my own principles on this – that is: your blog, your opinion. And criticising an opinion (though in this case, how you are framing your opinion really) is effectively criticising the person. I am all in favour of the constructive stuff, mind you.

          There are better ways to try and change someone’s opinion than being critical, in fact it’s the worst possible technique for convincing someone of a different viewpoint.

          • craig Post author


            there was nothing at all wrong with your comment. I don’t take it as a personal criticism. And my reply was in no sense a personal criticism of you. I think argument is very helpful for readers to work out their own minds – and us.

    • Grouse Beater

      The issue with gender equality lies not in equal opportunity, which ought to be the normal situation in any society, in encouragement, in training, in job creation, but in men promoting men with little ability, and woman doing the same. One has to begin with minimum standards, and as Craig so amply illuminates, the mediocre will always promote the mediocre because that’s what makes them feel comfortable.

    • Random Person

      ‘It is completely wrong to use one episode of administrative incompetence (the inquiry into allegations made about Alex Salmond) to bring these other major achievements into question.’ Nope. Craig is right. This whole thing is feminist-ideology-driven (as Ms. Sturgeon has proven time and again), no matter what you might think. Go on, call me a misogynist, bore me. I will just say you are virtue signalling (I actually agree, to a degree, with what you’re saying about addressing imbalances), and nothing will get accomplished and no minds will be changed.

  • MaryPau!

    I am looking at this as an English outsider. It serms to me that in the wake of MeToo-ism, someone came forward with an allegation of sexual misconduct against Salmond (I have no idea what this was or whether or not it was genuine.) This was referred to MacKinnon who handked this sort of thing for government. She accepted it as genuine and realised that as the regulations stood he could not be charged. She consulted other people (Evans, Lloyd?) and it was decided to update the regulations “retrospectively,” so that a case could be then brought against him. A former complainant known to Mackinnon was added to the case to strengthen it. Dates were “adjusted” to make it all appear above board. They feared the alternative scenario that the accusation might get out and Salmond might go “unprosecuted”, which would create its own scandal.

    Whether the case against Salmond was prepared for straightforward political reasons or an excess of MeToo-ism political correctness, I do not know. To avoid the plan leaking out, it was confined to a small group of people including MacKinnon and Leslie Evans. Sturgeon was not told until late in tbe day but was then clearly convinced of the honesty of the complainants. She may not have been aware of just how big a stitch had gone on. Since then she has in public supported her civil servants and apologised to the complainants for the failure of procedures.

    Evans and MacKinnon have presided over a shabby travesty of procedures in an attempt to catch Salmond in their net and show how “woke” the Scottish Executive is. .

    • craig Post author


      I think that is an excellent analysis, and likely to be very close to the truth. Precisely how early Nicola was “in on it” is the only point I am not sure, but ultimately makes little difference.

      • jake

        That’s interesting. Can I ask why you think “how early Nicola was in on it” makes little difference? I ask because most of the scalp hunters seem to think it is. I’m intrigued as to why you think they are following a false scent.

    • William Boyd

      MaryPau, you are perhaps being overly generous, so far there doesn’t appear to be any evidence that “someone came forward.”
      More, someone heard of an old and settled matter and went out of their way to fan fresh life into it.

      If civil servants were searching for salacious material it would be interesting to know when the hunt started, on what authority and was this
      just a general house keeping operation or a targeted one.

      Shame they had to change the rules to justify their prior activity.

    • Random Person

      She never apologised to Alex Salmond. He was wronged too, and her lack of contrition towards him for this stupid nightmare case is instructive. She is sexist.

  • John McLeod

    I have gone back to have another look at Craig’s original article. For me, there is a crucial shift at “It is no secret that feminism is Nicola’s passion….” Up to that point, the article is a detailed analysis and critique, including some new information, of the way that the Alex Salmond harassment case was handled. After that point, what is offered is a hypothesis that is out put forward to explain what happened. For me, the first section of the article was illuminating whereas the ‘feminist’ theory was taking something that might turn out to be one element in a complex story, too far.

    • Grouse Beater

      A cornerstone of Sturgeon’s leadership is the feminist case, a cause that has brought some equality and some grief because it is absolutist caught up in the scatter gun sexual politics of the #MeToo mood. In the light of all Sturgeon has said and done to promote that cause, attempting to weaken Murray’s case by suggesting that aspect is not relevant is plain silly.

      • John McLeod

        I am not suggesting that feminism is not relevant. There are a lot of strands to this situation. I’m just saying that at this stage its impossible to tell how important the feminist dimension might be. In my view, the second half of Craig’s article makes statements about motivation (e.g., ‘Nicola’s most valued agenda’) that seem to me to be exaggerated and not based in evidence. I think that the First Minister is pursuing many agendas. How do we know that feminism is the most valued one? I also think that a bit of context is necessary here. We live in a society in which women are routinely harassed, discounted and objectified.

        • Ian

          I agree. Craig is on solid ground in his article, then in the latter half veers into speculation about Sturgeon’s motive and psychological make up. The danger of that approach is that it undermines the well argued first half. It may be true, or partially true, but it is still speculative generalisation which I don’t particularly believe, given that there obviously other factors which have played into her decision. The danger of taking that line is that it is open to charges of personal animus, both against Sturgeon and feminism – as you can see by the succour it gives to some of the rightwing loons here.

  • Les Wilson

    A compelling article Craig, a must read really. It is very, very, disappointing that Nicola would be copliant with all of this.
    Alex was also a very close friend and mentor to her for many years. So many thinking people could conclude that her desire of pushing
    feminist equality to a higher degree is somehow helped by the savage stitch up of a good friend, I doubt that.

    While Nicola has undoubted talents and a good team behind her, this action against her old friend will not go down well with voters.
    Many smell this as a Unionist plot against Alex, especially to have him sidelined during the brexit debates.In that aim, such a purpose has proved effective for the Westminster’s point of view.
    In the minds of many this was clearly a set up of some making, and skulldugery, which reeks of Westminster underhand tactics.

    We wait now for the Police review of the accusations, I suspect the charges will be dropped as while we now know Westminster is not wholly to blame, but they most probably have been the instigators,and may not want all details to be public knowledge, they are good at all that.
    Nicola has unfortunately got herself really involved by backing the Civil Service actors, and that may lead to her undoing at a time we voters really need a strong leader to help us achieve our aims. Which I may add, are becoming less likely due to the lack of action by the SNP, disappointment does not really cover it. Where are our hero’s?

    Again, I feel deeply disappointed and let down that all this has happened, I can only imagine how Alex Salmonds feels.

  • Top Cat

    Brilliant piece Craig, have to admit it opened my eyes a bit on Nicola’s Sturgeons role in this. Not the person I thought she was, having feminist views is a good thing, as equality is a must across the board, but blind feminism is a very dangerous thing. In your pursuit of womens equality you then lose the track of the truth and what is right and what is wrong regardless of gender.

    • Rob Royston

      Her publically expressed hatred for Donald Trump was an obvious sign that she was not leadership material. It continued even after he was elected POTUS. Did she know that Scotland would never be free under her leadership, so no diplomacy was necessary?

      • N_

        Screw diplomacy if it requires not saying anything negative about fascist leaders abroad, whether in Uzbekistan or the United States.

      • Jo1

        I’m concerned that she swallowed the UK version of what happened at Salisbury, hook line and sinker.

      • Beth

        I’m concerned that she backed Hillary ‘We came, we saw, he died’. Very poor judgement and also lack of awareness of Hillary’s extremely low approval rating . She was quick to tweet her support for a war criminal – where is her support for Tulsi Gabbard ?

        • Random Person

          The Hillary thing was self-projection and self-identification on her part, with a powerful female politician (least she didn’t go to America and bring back a cardboard Hillary cutout like that oaf Dugdale!). That said female politician is a warmongering nutter is of little consequence. Cos she’s a powerful female. And that’s all that matters. To people of a certain narrow, uncritical, ideological mindset.

    • Random Person

      Might have in the 20th century, upon occasion. Now we live in an America-minted era of ‘alternative facts’ and ‘parallel narratives’ and such deranged dross, and people will believe what they want to believe, full stop. Insane.

  • N_

    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.

    Or this could be looked at in a positive way insofar as it can in principle (ho hum) be sorted out by means of a clearing out of the Augean stables in the Scottish administration, both “political” and “permanent”, without any signficiant involvement by British-level authorities.

  • N_

    Santander has today announced that it will close 140 branches in Britain.

    Santander and Metro Bank may be the high street banks that are most likely to go bust soonest. A lot of their moneylending business is aimed at what used to be called the “subprime” market, meaning people who have little prospect of ever being able to pay back what they have borrowed. Both of them push hard in that part of the market. The other banks do too, but these two stand out.

    Santander has gobbled up Bradford and Bingley, Alliance and Leicester, and Abbey National, and itself is a subsidiary of a Spanish-registered company. Ten years ago there was the rise of Icelandic-registered interests in the financial world. It’s like that, except that Santander is the 5th biggest bank in Europe. Much of the Spanish-registered company is owned by unidentified “private equity”.


    • N_

      Meanwhile P&O reflags some of its Channel ferries from the British registry to the one in Cyprus. Is the aim to make it less likely they will be commandeered?

      In the 1970s, Basil Smallpeice of Cunard, Lonhro and the British “royal” household, was involved in plans to imprison the British cabinet on the QE2 during a military coup.

      • Charles Bostock

        Re para 1 : the answer is no. There are no plans to commandeer any vessels for the simple reason that this would not be necessary. If ships were commandeered, however, their flag would be irrelevant.

        Re para 2 : despite the nonsense you might read on Wikepedia, there were no such plans because there were no plans for a military coup. Talk of such a planned coup is as silly as the talk about the South African security services being out to get Harold Wilson or that Hugh Gaitskell was murdered in order to pave the way for Harold Wilson (the former is a bit of left-wing silliness, the latter right-wing ditto).

  • Sharp Ears

    The Guardian has produced this long list of organisations that receive donations from the tobacco industry. The list of American organizations is long.

    In the UK section, you see the Taxpayers’ Alliance, the IEA, the Centre for Policy Studies and the Freedom Association.

    In the Africa section there is even one in Ghana. Details on this link.


    And the names –

    On the Register of Interests of MPs (They Work For You) you can see that many occupants of the green benches, mainly Tories, receive donations from JapanTobacco International, a cover for the tobacco industry.

    7 million people die annually from tobacco related diseases.

    • Charles Bostock

      The biggest cigarette manufacturer in the world – by far – is a Chinese state company.

      That company does not put health warnings on its packets as a matter of course (only when local legislation requires it. Just like Western cigarette manufacturers, in fact).

      • giyane

        Spanish fag packets warn about male impotency. Why don’t feminists attack machismo? A. Because they only hate gentlemanly males. They need the bastards sometimes to screw.

      • Mochyn69

        You do know, Charlie boy, don’t you that the Chinese tobacco industry was largely set up and developed by the perfidious Brits?

        W.D. & H.O. Wills of Bristol, Imperial Tobacco and BATS were among the principal actors at the turn of the 20th Century.

        According to Shanghai’s Shen newspaper

        You do know this, right?


    • Node

      On the Register of Interests of MPs (They Work For You) you can see that many occupants of the green benches, mainly Tories, receive donations from JapanTobacco International, a cover for the tobacco industry. 7 million people die annually from tobacco related diseases.

      Many supporters of Thatcher still claim she was guided by sincere beliefs.

      Her first job on leaving office was to become a highly paid shill for the tobacco industry, specifically Philip Morris. Her job was to persuade 3rd world governments to relax legislation which restricted the sales of tobacco products. In other words, the more successful she was, the more people died.

      Speaks volumes about her sincere beliefs.

      • Charles Bostock

        Well, that’s the first I – and I suspect anyone else – have heard of that. No mention of it in her Wikipedia entry, so would you mind sourcing that claim for us?

        While waiting for you to do so, might I say that I find your assertion rather curious? Matgaret Roberts graduated in 1947. Who were those “3rd world governments” you mention, given that most of Africa and Asia was still colonised at the time? In any event, I should be very surprised indeed if any 3rd world country, whether a colony or independent, had any tobacco-restricting legislation to be “relaxed” in 1947.

  • Brian MacLeod

    There’s a strong smell of misandry in this feminist agenda.

    And that’s just as bad as the misogyny of the old patriarchy.

  • Charles Bostock

    I wouldn’t mind betting that Mrs Sturgeon is secretly delighted about what happened to Mr Salmond.

    After all, as someone so sagely observed on here, some mud will always stick – and that mud will be sufficient to prevent Mr Salmond from making a comeback to front-line politics……thereby displacing Mrs Sturgeon.

    It’s an ill wind and so on.

    • Dave

      Internal investigations by civil servants, no doubt encouraged or otherwise by political leadership, is inherently corrupt, because it involves your political opponents acting as judge and jury. Note AS turned the tables by taking legal action, but this approach is difficult to those without money.

      The test should be, if something happens that is so serious it can’t be resolved by an apology, its referred to the police or lawyers, not a long drawn out investigation involving anonymous sources, and de facto mud slinging.

      • Charles Bostock

        One should probably avoid overburdening the police by referring everything to it right away, and any right thinking person would certainly wish not to make the lawyers even wealthier. So an internal investigation first might not be such a bad idea, surely? Especially if the claimed aggrieved party belongs to a larger body of people governed by rules and regulations?

  • Charles Bostock

    Further to my post at 12:06, does anyone on here know whether Mr Salmond, when saying that he was stepping down, left the door open to a possible return to frontline politics?

    Why did he step down anyway, was it anything to do with this affair?

  • Vivian O'Blivion

    On the 6th November, lawyers for Alex formally raised concerns with Lord Pentland that the SG had not been sufficiently forthcoming in submitting evidence to the Court. When did Lord Pentland initiate the Commission on Diligence? Before or after the verbal testimony of Evans on the 23rd December? Did a seeming lack of verisimilitude in Evans testimony initiate the Commission?
    If the really damning evidence is discovered by the Commissioner between Christmas and New Year, then the Commissioner is either one hell of an investigator or some lower level, technical functionary was sitting with a prepared file waiting to deliver the line “I wondered when someone was going to ask that question”.
    The Whitehall mandarins may have Evans’ back covered but the troops may be quite happy for the boss to face the axe.

  • Sharp Ears

    PMQs began with the usual HMD reminder. Pity she failed to mention that it is Burns Night on Friday.

    PM derides calls for second Scottish referendum
    Theresa May begins by mentioning that it is Holocaust Memorial Day on Sunday. She says “we must all challenge prejudice and hatred”.
    The first question is from Conservative MP Stephen Kerr, who asks about the prospect of a second Scottish independence referendum.
    The PM says the first one was “legal, fair and decisive”. She adds the SNP are “out of touch” and haven’t got the message that voters in Scotland don’t want one.
    The UK should be “pulling together, not pulling apart”, May says.’

    https://news.sky.com/story/live-brexit-set-to-dominate-as-theresa-may-and-jeremy-corbyn-clash-at-pmqs-11615191 (Earliest at bottom)

    • Charles Bostock

      “Theresa May begins by mentioning that it is Holocaust Memorial Day on Sunday. She says “we must all challenge prejudice and hatred”.

      I am glad she said that because it is a sentiment with which all decent people would surely agree, whatever the direction in which the prejudice and hatred are levelled.

      • Republicofscotland

        “whatever the direction in which the prejudice and hatred are levelled.”

        With th exception of Maduro, Putin, Assad and Rouhani of course.

        • Sharp Ears

          Well. She would have to say it as she has to keep the Israel lobby happy. She is after all a fervent member of the Conservative Friends of Israel. Perhaps the Rev Brasier was a Christian Zionist and indoctrinated her.

          She had a go at Corbyn in PMQs using the well worn trope of his communications with Hamas and Hezbollah. She obviously does not understand that he works for peace.

  • Dungroanin

    Why didn’t the complainants go to the police first? Why didn’t NS advise or inquire if that course of action be followed?

    There appears to be a longer game here – no doubt run from Whitehall. The natural justice of having a second indyref after the hard brexit, because many of the Indy remainers would only have voted that way to retain the benefits of EU membership.

    It seems that destroying the reputations of both the enigmatic leaders of the SNP, is the most likely outcome. Why NS walked into such a trap is perplexing.

    It is great that CM is airing what is known openly in the legal profession.
    The bollocks of the IoS/II is probably not very far away. It is great that CM is keeping up the pressure via tweeter. The fact that neither Cadwalladr, her colleagues, that rag, or Parliament are not even mentioning the issue is revelatory in itself.

    In the meantime, the tory MP’s wishing to avoid a hard brexit are trapped between their consciences and ABC!

    All of which adds up to The English establishment, having put on it’s rhino skin, taken off the velvet gloves and is treating social democracy at home with a sneer that it regulary did and still does in the rest of the world.
    May is able to lie with impunity and the tory MP’s have to suck it up – parliament didn’t trigger A50 – she did;
    Her deal is based on her red lines and she is not prepared to change them – so what is the point of ‘talking’ to any of the opposition?
    She will not answer a direct question and won’t have a public debate.

    We are heading for a greater upheaval than the poll tax riots – and the state is being made ready to unleash the violence of Orgreave on a much more fragile citizenry.

    If the SNP does what the DUP did, to deliver a new government in the UK, they can have thei indyref2.
    It’s that or UDI in my opinion.

  • deepgreenpuddock

    I once attended a party where I met a number of members of the Salmond family.Generally a cynic regarding politicians, I came away with a strong very positive impression that the Salmond family were acutely aware of the sensitivity of the political role of Alex Salmond and his reputation.I also came away with the impression of personal integrity.So I was surprised when the accusations surfaced.At the time the metoo movement was gaining a head of steam and it seemed vanishingly unlikely that Alex Salmond would not have been aware of the need for highly circumspect behaviour.In my working life as a teacher, I was acutely aware of the risks of saying or doing anything that might be interpreted negatively and always made sure that all interactions with pupils and staff were carried out appropriately, in the open and with witnesses.Part of this was also due to my awareness that pupils can ‘make stuff up’.On one occasion a pupil gave me a very elaborate account of family disruption and chaos, which when I discussed this with the Child Protection officer turned out to be a complete fiction and attributable to something else entirely. I am suggesting that a senior politician would have a similar sense of the need for the utmost care in the many interactions with women that the role requires.I might also add that when sensitive issues arose |I always made sure there were reliable witnesses present eg parents’ night- where the report was not favourable,I would ask a colleague to join the group.I would be very surprised that Alex Salmond had not developed a similar awareness.
    As some comments have pointed out Craig has raised the possibility that the people involved here may not be reliable witnesses, partly due to their mistaken actions, such as unrecorded contact with the complainants and the apparent enthusiasm of the civil servants to promote or defend a feminist outlook. This perspective is quite a dangerous one as it is suggesting that the failure to apply rules properly and fairly is attributable to a preconceived antipathy to the person complained of,or a predetermined sympathy to the (female) complainants.
    It is reasonably obvious that such a position has the potential to become an extremely corrosive issue within Scottish politics and it seems to me to be impossible to separate this matter from the wider political context.If those involved had strictly adhered to appropriate procedures it might have been possible to avoid becoming embroiled in the ‘politics’ . In failing to do so, the individuals concerned have failed very seriously in their primary responsibility to be objective and scrupulously fairand this is certainly more than sufficient reason for the person to resign or be subjected to a disciplinary process..

  • Tony_0pmoc

    This issue is endemic, across almost all true left wing parties that used to represent the working class in The West. It is nothing specific to Scotland.

    The first most obvious example was the infiltration of the UK Labour Party by Blairites.

    The most recent was the infiltration of both main politicial parties in the USA, but especially the Democrats.

    One would normally expect people of similar views, if politically interested, to join a party that reflects those views.

    However, Blair demonstrated quite clearly, the effectiveness, of infiltrating a party with a few very powerful people, of completely opposing views, to almost completely change the original honest policy objectives of the party they were infiltrating. Thus the Working Class Labour Party, in effect, became even more Right Wing, especially in its war like foreign policies than the Tories.

    Most people working hard within the parties, were not aware what was happenning, and those that were left in disgust.

    Neocons, formerly Trotskys, rebranded themselves, but retained their original objectives of World Control, whilst creating complete mayhem and genocide across the world supported by the very largest world wide monopoly corporations.

    Most people have little knowledge of political history, and have no idea how they are being manipulated, in the service of extremely rich powerful forces, completely against their own interests.


    • MJ

      “to almost completely change the original honest policy objectives of the party”

      Eg the scrapping of Clause 4.

  • Sharp Ears

    May has nothing to say anyway. What a shambles.

    ‘The UK Government has cancelled talks with senior politicians from Scotland and Wales over Brexit, MSPs have been told.
    7hrs ago

    Fiona Hyslop, the Scottish Government’s External Affairs Secretary, said a meeting of the Joint Ministerial Committee due to be held on Thursday will no longer take place.

    She said the move “flies in the face of the Prime Minister’s rhetoric” after Theresa May had promised an “enhanced role” for the devolved governments in Brexit negotiations.’


    • Charles Bostock

      “Fiona Hyslop, the Scottish Government’s External Affairs Secretary, ”

      There is no such animal. Foreign affairs is not a devolved power, therefore to call someone “the Scottish Government’s External Affairs Secretary” is meaningless.

      It is in fact much more meaningless than calling Frederica Mogherini the EU’s “Foreign Minister”.

      • Mochyn69

        Charlie boy, you are such a muppet.

        Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs!

        Can you actually understand English???


  • Sharp Ears

    Thank goodness that Julian has friends. This is in the Guardian who betrayed him.

    ‘Julian Assange launches legal challenge against Trump administration
    WikiLeaks founder’s lawyers file urgent application in attempt to prevent extradition to US

    The Guardian — JULIAN ASSANGE, the fugitive WikiLeaks founder whose diplomatic sanctuary in the Ecuadorian embassy appears increasingly precarious, is launching a legal challenge against the Trump administration.

    Lawyers for the Australian activist have filed an urgent application to the Washington-based Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR) aimed at forcing the hand of US prosecutors, requiring them to “unseal” any secret charges against him.

    The legal move is an attempt to prevent Assange’s extradition to the US at a time that a new Ecuadorian government has been making his stay in the central London apartment increasingly inhospitable. […]


  • Andrew Ingram

    This week sees the centenary of the formation of the First Dail. Nicola Sturgeon would do well to read up on the thinking behind Sinn Fein’s actions and the procedure used to legitimize those actions in international eyes.
    The SNP goes into all of this with a far better hand than Sinn Fein had a century ago as there is a Parliament already up and running and the Westminster members could form an upper house straight away.

    • frankywiggles

      The difference is the first Dail was elected with an overwhelming democratic mandate for independence – which the British simply dismissed. Today, by contrast, they can say Scots themselves democratically repudiated independence. So any Irish-style resort to arms (if that’s what you’re implying) would be deemed illegitimate in the eyes of the world.

  • J

    O/T but I loved this interview so much I had to share. A random Ukrainian woman being interviewed on the question, should Ukraine model itself on America or Russia? I don’t take much at face value so for the life of me I can’t understand why the interviewer published this, if real. It is simply so very splendid.

    If Tatyana is around to view it, is this a broadly accurate translation? Do you think it is real? It certainly looks the part and it certainly ought to be real. Such a rare pleasure if so. Basically, she refuses to drawn on the leading question and gives the young amateur journalist far more than he bargained on.


    • Blunderbuss

      She is very well-informed and articulate. If the interviewer tried this in England, the answer would probably be “Err, dunno”.

    • tony_0pmoc


      She is completely brilliant, and I agree with everything she said in the first 3 minutes….then I skipped forward, and was hoping to see many other people giving their views. Regardless of that, The kid doing the video did a great job. He had the courage to do it, and he should do it 100 times again. It’s entirely possible he did, and he just chosed his best interview to post on youtube.

      Either way – its awesome, and there is no way she made it up. I know completely independently that what she said is true.

      This is so good, it should be on UK TV – maybe Channel 4, but now they all do what they are told to do, by their controllers, or get fired or worse.

      They haven’t got the courage, even if they completely agree.


    • Tatyana

      J , thanks for asking.
      The translation is accurate, I’d only add remarks in the places, when they speak ukrainian. I think it is real. Woman’s opinion is well-grounded, her answer comes as if it was ready to say out. (I mean, ordinary people need some effort before using “pappet governement” or remembering countries and events). She is a good speaker, almost no talk “defects” or stray words in her speech.
      I conclude that she must had discussed it before and she must be politically active citizen. My guess is she is a teacher.
      I’m surprised they speak russian in Kiev.
      The blogger is not a professional journalist, because he started arguing her position and also bringing his own agenda.

      • Tatyana

        and another guess, she probably has cancer, I’ve noticed the way she covered her head and her face is not a face of healthy person, too. Perhaps it is the reason why she tells “no one but me tell you these things, no one, ask another passer-by and they will tell you *ukr* everything is fine, viva Ukraine”. A commentor on YouTube also writes “… I just hope that “they” don’t come for her in the night.”

      • Tatyana

        ha ha ha
        this is video of other people in the poll (in russian and without english subtitles)

        at the end the blogger says “I’m publishing ALL opinions, cutting off nothing, I’m honest, blah blah”
        he is a liar.
        the first male respondent referred to the previous woman “she is apparently from “sovok” *derogative for USSR*, she is ready to be a slave, to be a Russia’s colony”

        it’s the answer, tony_0pmoc, that is why you can’t see other people giving their views. the video was cut.

    • J

      I agree with the comments Blunderbuss and Tony, and especially the interviewee. And many thanks Tatyana for your insight. I was surprised by how forthright she is but put it down to age and being at the end of her tether. As well as indicating that few would say what she says, she also suggests she’s not alone in her thoughts. Great stuff. I hope she’ll be okay.

  • Sharp Ears

    Another Tory is at the trough, like Paterson. Our former Minister for Exiting Europe to be more exact.

    David Davis paid £96,000 for part-time roles since quitting cabinet
    Former Brexit minister receives £3,000 an hour for consultancy role with digger-maker JCB
    Wed 23 Jan 2019 19.29

    It is a matter for debate whether the country has fared better or worse since David Davis resigned as Brexit secretary. In much less doubt are his personal fortunes: the MP is receiving almost £100,000 from two part-time business posts.

    The latest register of MPs interests shows Davis has acquired two new jobs on top of his role representing Haltemprice and Howden in parliament. One, as an “external adviser” to JCB, makes him £60,000 for 20 hours of work per year.


    Bamford makes large donations to the Tories. May et al have made speeches at the factory to a background of JCB machines.

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