The Circle of Amnesiacs 161


Today was a particularly interesting meeting of the Holyrood Inquiry into the mishandling of the Salmond affair, with two senior civil servants, Judith Mackinnon and Barbara Allison, who both had very convenient and complete failures of memory, about key points which just happened to be the very points on which the committee had previously been lied to.

To take Barbara Allison first, she had been happily on holiday in Mauritius. I am sure it is of great comfort to the ordinary people of Scotland that, as has been clear from this inquiry, the Scottish Government employs an extraordinary plethora of officials, nearly all of them female, in non-jobs with silly titles at salaries that enable them to spend their vacations at the most expensive and exclusive spots on the planet.

Now Ms Allison, Director of Communications, had forgotten that, on the day Alex Salmond won the judicial review case against the Scottish Government, she had immediately texted from Mauritius to Permanent Secretary Leslie Evans, and that Leslie Evans had instantly replied “Battle may be lost but not the war.” She denied it had happened under oath to the committee when she gave evidence on 15 September 2020. She only remembered it when the Crown Office subsequently handed over the text – which police Scotland had taken from her own phone – to the Committee. She then was forced to write to the Committee correcting her evidence, which if the text had never been produced, presumably she would never have done.

The remarkable thing is, that Leslie Evans’ message had been famous ever since the Alex Salmond trial. It had featured quite literally scores of times in the media after being mentioned in the evidence at Alex Salmond’s preliminary hearing (where it was among the evidence the defence were banned from using at trial) and after being quoted from the steps of the court room by Alex Salmond after his complete acquittal. It is the subject of this column by Iain Macwhirter, for example, and features in the title. Presumably as part of her job Ms Allison must have followed all this, but none of it jogged her memory that she had received the message. Even when Leslie Evans gave evidence to the Inquiry on 8 September that she had sent the message, that did not remind Ms Allison that she had received the message before she explicitly denied, under oath, receiving it to the committee exactly one week later.

It is plain from the messages that Evans and Allison are close. Civil servants do not normally add kisses to work related texts. We are asked to believe that on 8 September Evans gave evidence on this text message to Allison, and did not mention it to Allison before her own appearance before the committee the following week. That is ludicrous.

But remarkably, the fog of Allison’s memory still has not cleared. Nothing has yet been jogged. The infamous text from Evans is evidently a reply to one from Allison. Evans’ reply begins “Thanks Barbara”. Yet Allison today told the committee, again under oath, that she had no recollection of sending Evans her initial text and no recollection what she had said in it. In fact she testified she had no recollection of the event at all.

Let us dig a bit further into that. Imagine you are in Mauritius on holiday. It is a wonderful place.

You are there on holiday. You are relaxing by the sea in the magnificent scenery and enjoying a drink or a meal. You receive immediate notification of the result of the Salmond civil case judicial review, thousands of miles away. How? It did not make the Mauritian or the international media. Plainly somebody has contacted you to give you the news instantly. Had you organised for that, or had someone thought it so important as to bother you on your holiday?

[As a former senior civil servant myself, I can tell you for certain that an event would have to be considered extremely significant, and requiring indispensable involvement of a particular civil servant, for them to be interrupted when away on a holiday. Plainly, this was not casual.]

Your tropical idyll has been interrupted. You then immediately initiate an exchange of texts with the Permanent Secretary. You now cannot – just eighteen months later – recall any of this happening at all.

I just do not buy it. I do not believe it. I do not accept it. It is my opinion (cf Dugdale vs Campbell libel case) that Barbara Allison gave a very strong impression that she is a liar.

The content of Barbara Allison’s text is of course very important, because of Leslie Evans’ wildly improbable explanation to the committee, that when she said “battle may be lost but not the war”, with reference to the judicial review case against Alex Salmond, the “war” to which she referred was not the war against Alex Salmond, but rather a wider struggle that government should have “equality at the heart of what it does”. In this (frankly unbelievable) context, the missing Barbara Allison text message becomes very important indeed.

Did Allison text that day from Mauritius “God that bastard Salmond won. We have to nail him”, to which Evans replied “Thanks Barbara, the battle may be lost, but not the war”? Or did Allison text from Mauritius “I am in full support of the effort to incorporate equality and women’s rights at the heart of all we do”, to which Evans replied “Thanks Barbara, the battle may be lost, but not the war.” As I hope you see, it makes a major difference which it is.

Unfortunately, of course, Allison has (ahem) forgotten what her text message said. And here is the extraordinary thing – she had deleted that key message before she handed her phone over to the police. Now, she had not deleted her messages with one of the accusers from months earlier. Also she had not deleted the reply from Lesley Evans to her deleted text, nor had she deleted her reply to Lesley Evans’ reply to her missing text. We are left with this:

Text X – deleted
“Thanks Barbara. Battle maybe lost but not the war. Hope you are having lovely and well deserved break. L”
“Thanks Lesley. It is lovely here. My mind and thoughts are with you all there tho. Best wishes B. x ”

Now why did text X get deleted and not the other two? Allison told the committee that she routinely deletes texts to unclutter her phone.

Is that not rather strange? We all know how text messages work – your phone shows you the most recent message in a conversation first. So scrolling back, Allison decided to keep the last two but to delete the third one back? Why that one? Why not the whole exchange? It is very hard to think of any logical explanation for that selection – unless the deleted text happened to say something like “God that bastard won. We have to nail him”, which might be incriminating given the subsequent (ahem) organisation of complainants for the criminal case. But as Allison cannot remember writing or deleting that text message, we may never know.

Except of course, we should know. Police Scotland took the messages from the phone to give to the Crown Office. Unfortunately the interest of Police Scotland was in conspiring with Peter Murrell to fit up Alex Salmond. Had they not been otherwise fixed on a corrupt intent, Police Scotland would have been able to deploy their resources to recover the obviously missing deleted text, either from the iPhone or from the service provider.

Let us leave the unpleasant Ms Allison to stew in her own mendacity, and move on to another unreliable witness with a very poor memory, Judith McKinnon. Now I have to refer here to an earlier witness, civil servant Mr James Hynd, who had evidently been selected to take upon himself the responsibility for having devised a procedure to investigate ex-ministers. He had testified it was entirely his own idea, that he had never discussed it with anybody at all, and that it had first existed in a draft policy he had alone written.

Unfortunately this attempt to sanitise the genesis of the “get Salmond” policy quickly collapsed as documents have slowly been squeezed out of the Scottish government showing that a procedure against ex-ministers had been discussed by civil servants and special advisers before Hynd “first” thought of it, including by Judith McKinnon, who had gone on to coach the initial complainants against Alex Salmond. In fact, Mckinnon had produced a “flowchart” of the new procedure including ex-ministers, dated before Hynd’s document which he claimed was the first time the idea had been thought of. Hynd was another one forced to write to the committee to “clarify” his evidence under oath.

Today McKinnon was pressed on why she had included ex-Ministers in her flowchart before Hynd had thought of it, and McKinnon replied that it had been generally discussed and was generally agreed. Pressed by committee members as to who she had generally discussed it with, and whether this included Leslie Evans or the First Minister’s office, McKinnon replied that – she had forgotten who she discussed it with.

Now there is a shock.

Scotland employs, on very high salaries, a quite fascinating number of women with very poor memories.

The members of the committee were most excited about another point. They questioned both women on the fact that the new procedure which the court had found unlawful and tainted by apparent bias, under which McKinnon could both coach complainants and be the investigating officer, was still in place. There was, huffed Alex Cole Hamilton, the possibility the same mistake could be made again and the taxpayer again lose a great deal of money.

Silly Mr Cole Hamilton. He has not yet understood that the “new procedure” was only ever a single shot, designed to “get” Alex Salmond. There was never any chance it would be used against anybody else. So why bother to amend it now?

Finally and perhaps even more interestingly, today a letter has been released which Alex Salmond wrote to James Hamilton, who is conducting the investigation into whether Nicola Sturgeon broke the ministerial code. This entire letter is well worth reading, but this bit is truly stunning. Alex Salmond points out that Hamilton’s remit was written by Sturgeon’s deputy John Swinney, and he suggests it is a “straw man”, deliberately misdirecting Hamilton to areas where Sturgeon probably did not break the ministerial code.

Salmond instead suggests other areas where Sturgeon did actually break the ministerial code, and asks Hamilton if he is able to investigate them or just carrying out the Swinney defined charade. This is the first direct and public attack by Alex on Nicola since she conspired to have him jailed, and it is extremely significant. I am hopeful it may be the starting point of a change towards a Scottish government that will actually use its popular mandate to act on Independence.

UPDATE I have been informed it wasn’t Mauritius, it was the Maldives. Which is, of course, even more spectacularly exclusive and expensive.

 
 
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161 thoughts on “The Circle of Amnesiacs

1 2
  • Alf Baird

    It seems rather a coincidence that the two senior civil servants who were given much of the responsibility for taking forward this dubious ‘process’ were former employees of the Scottish Police Authority and Scottish Prison Service respectively. This may suggest they were perhaps ‘hand picked’ for the task in hand based on their previous experience and ‘connections’? Perhaps it is who done the ‘hand picking’ of participants in this whole affair that needs to be uncovered, as the ultimate leader of the plot to ensnare Scotland’s foremost political actor in the independence game and prevent his ever returning to ‘active service’? I’m sure some of you will know who I am referring to.

  • Tom Welsh

    “It had featured quite literally scores of times in the media after being mentioned in the evidence at Alex Salmond’s preliminary hearing (where it was among the evidence the defence were banned from using at trial) and after being quoted from the steps of the court room by Alex Salmond after his complete acquittal”.

    Maybe they don’t have any news media in Mauritius.

    Although it seems odd for a Director of Communications to render herself incommunicado.

    • Tom Welsh

      “Maybe they don’t have any news media in Mauritius”.

      Or, as it might be, the Maldives.

  • Tom Welsh

    “As a former senior civil servant myself, I can tell you for certain that an event would have to be considered extremely significant, and requiring indispensable involvement of a particular civil servant, for them to be interrupted when away on a holiday”.

    I have the distinct impression that, whatever their job titles, such people do not consider themselves “servants” of any kind.

    Nearly 50 years ago Robert A. Heinlein wrote, ‘In a mature society, “civil servant” is semantically equal to “civil master”‘.

    I believe we can take it that Scotland today is a mature society. In fact, I fancy I can smell it from hundreds of miles away even in this relatively cool weather.

  • Tom Welsh

    “Civil servants do not normally add kisses to work related texts”.

    Perhaps the monstrous regiment has more than one resemblance to the Sacred Band of ancient Thebes.

    (If the present situation has any silver lining at all, it may be the opportunity to imagine John Knox pale and shaking with rage at the sequence of events…)

  • 6033624

    Being a pedant I must point out that the third last text COULD easily have been deleted as discussed. She would simply delete all her texts from person ‘a’ and then the next ones are not deleted, meaning the deletion occurred BEFORE the two still seen. This might be more telling, if true. It would mean that, even at the time, she thought the text too incendiary to keep on her phone.

    The one person who is ALWAYS at the centre of this is Leslie Evans. SHE found the complaints, SHE coached them, SHE got the procedure in place, SHE lobbied for it. Many politicians are now trying to ‘mop up’ the mess and may not have had any involvement at the start of this at all, I can’t say for sure. What I can say is that Evans’ seems to have given herself a task of bringing Salmond down. There seems to be no other way to say it than that. For someone at the top of her profession she seems not have have realised how ‘out on a limb’ she personally is now and seems never to have thought that far ahead. The first rule on doing absolutely ANYTHING is to plan for ‘what if it all goes wrong’ In that she seems inept. However, if her wish was to cause damage to the SNP then this course of action was a win/win. I’m not satisfied that this was not her intent. She has been the driving force behind this and has ‘sold’ the idea to others. She has not acted as a Civil Servant at ANY level would normally act, she has been more political than the politicians. It’s almost as if the Union had a ‘spy in the camp’ sabotaging the very idea of the SNP – it’s certainly worked.

    • Jim

      That makes more sense than just deleting one message. She most likely deleted the first message in the thread and expected the subsequent messages in the thread to be deleted also.

  • Ian

    One of the worst aspects of this is how it reveals the horribly amateur shambles which passes for ‘government’ of this country. Despite the fact that these people are drawing large salaries, no doubt with benefits, for nebulously titled jobs, they seem peculiarly unqualified and lacking in what you would consider basic competencies and more importantly an understanding of the principles which are necessary for good governance. Like page 1 of a senior civil servant’s manual. Where do they come from and what education do they have in the concepts of legal, civil and administrative duties which are a basic requirement of their jobs? And to what code of practice do they adhere? And what mechanism exists for regulating their behaviour and acting to prevent malfeasance?
    That is the most depressing harbinger of independence – that we end up with a cosy nostra of jobs for mates, people who have no competency or understanding of the public accountability and transparency their actions require. And to add insult to injury, when their competencies and accountability are brought into question, they run for the hills and give the most inadequate, feeble replies, as if they are shocked to be held to accountability. Civil servants should of course have records of their conversations and actions which impinge on their job. How is it possible to have democratic scrutiny and accountability without it?
    The worst thing is the rank amateurism, as if getting a plum government job doesn’t require high standards of professional behaviour and rigorous methods of demonstrating fair, unbiased decision-making transparent to the public. They seem to think it is a club for the chosen few, in which they can avoid any scrutiny and behave as they wish, using their ill-defined positions to further their own and their friends’ agendas. Do they even have a clue what their own job title entails? A terrible example of what awaits us if this shower of amateurs is supposed to be able to handle the very complex task of independence. How can we have any faith in them?

    • John O'Dowd

      Excellent point.

      You might wish to look at what the ‘Scottish’ Government themselves have published as Standards of Public Life and reflect on whether they have in any way at all adhered to these in any way at all in this whole sorry affair

      https://www.ethicalstandards.org.uk/publication/code-practice

      Also worth re-acquainting ourselves with the Nolan Principles on Public Life – to which the ‘Scottish’ Government is nominally committed and asking just one or two wee questions on just how much window dressing the whole public literature of public Scotland is:

      Nolan Principles
      In 1995, the Committee on Standards in Public Life (the Nolan Committee) identified seven principles of conduct underpinning public life and recommended that public bodies should draw up Codes of Conduct incorporating these principles.

      Nolan Committee 1995
      Recommendation

      Public bodies should draw up Codes of Conduct incorporating seven Nolan Principles of:

      • Selflessness
      • Integrity
      • Objectivity
      • Accountability
      • Openness
      • Honesty
      • Leadership.

      The Scottish Executive also identified nine key principles underpinning public life in Scotland, which incorporated the seven Nolan principles and introduced two further principles, Duty (Public Service) and Respect. These nine principles and their practical implications for Boards and Board members are explored in Guidance Note 5.

      Ethical Standards in Public Life etc. (Scotland) Act 2000
      https://www.gov.scot/publications/board-guide-members-statutory-boards/pages/18/

      Conduct for Board

      • Standards Commission to oversee ethical standards framework; and
      • Seven Nolan Principles plus two further principles of Duty (Public Service) and Respect.
      • International Framework: Good Governance in the Public Sector

      In 2014 the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy and the International Federation of Accountants produced an updated International Framework: Good Governance in the Public Sector.

      The 2014 Framework defines and describes one interpretation of the principles that should underpin good governance.

      Good Governance in the Public Sector
      Core Principles

      • Behave with integrity, demonstrating strong commitment to ethical values, and respect the rule of law;
      • Ensure openness and comprehensive stakeholder engagement;
      • Define outcomes in terms of sustainable economic, social and environmental benefits;
      • Determine the interventions necessary to optimise the achievement of the intended outcomes;
      • Develop the entity’s capacity, including the capability of its leadership and the individuals within it;
      • Manage risks and performance through robust internal control and strong public financial management; and
      • Implement good practices in transparency, reporting and audit to deliver effective accountability.

      These publications are available in the Library in St Andrews House – so Ms Evans should be able to read them.

      Just to give her a wee help. They are filed under ‘Fiction”

      • Ian

        Thanks, John, this is very interesting. In one sense I am relieved to know that good principles, standards and codes of behaviour exist and have been codified in these documents. On the other hand, it only emphasises how comprehensively they have been ignored and flouted. One wonders if any of these over promoted and under performing people had the slightest acquaintance with them, had any training or experience in this field, and felt any obligation to adhere to them. It would appear not, which is very damning of how the current administration works, and how confident they are that their closed shop doesn’t have to observe these basic requirements. This is possibly a byproduct of a small clique of like-minded people who, once in positions of power, surround themselves with friends and allies, and prioritise loyalty to those who lavished the well-funded job on them over any (to them) vague idea of public service and accountability. In a small goldfish bowl of legal and public officials it is easy to see how they all reinforce each other’s behaviour and demonise any perceived external threats to their cosy, privileged lifestyle.

        There obviously needs to be some kind of independent audit of the processes and appointments which have led to this shambles of administration. It is vital for public confidence. The trouble is in a relatively small country like Scotland the pool of officials is small and you get the revolving doors syndrome. I would very much like to know how this can be reformed and we have transparency while expecting the highest standards of probity. As I said, this would be crucial under independence, otherwise the whole project is sunk, and will be mired in the same cronyism, corruption and jobs for the boys and girls. A newly independent administration would have to be unimpeachable and retain the confidence of the population, in very trying times, and rigorously avoid partisanship. The institutions would have to be robust and at arms length from government, providing checks and balances that we can have confidence in. On this evidence the SNP is nowhere near ready for that. I am not sure that they have even thought about it, never mind committed to it, since it would necessarily involve ceding power to other agencies.

        • Cynicus

          My thanks to John O’Dowd and yourself for first rate information and commentary. CM also deserves a measure of credit for inspiring people like you.

          • John O'Dowd

            Thanks cynicus. There is a key to understanding this if we understand the ‘professional’ backgrounds of those concerned: Human Resource Management and Public Relations.

            What these disciplines (I use the word loosely) have in common are as follows:

            1. An ambiguous to non-existent acquaintance with the concept of truth;
            2. An utter contempt for people in general – especially – for those they purport to serve;
            3. A willingness to do just about anything in the service of Power;
            4. An firm and committed understanding that PR buzzwords mean the opposite of their normally accepted meanings
            truth = lies;
            respect=contempt;
            Integrity=expediency;
            objectivity=prejudice and bias;
            accountability= no f***ing chance;
            openness=deleting texts, shredding documents and redacting unhelpful paragraphs;
            Honesty = Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. You’re Joking right?
            Leadership= emulating Stalin, Hitler and Gengis Khan

            Hope this helps.

          • Ian

            Ouch! That may well be true, but the other side of the coin is surely how people who put them in positions, often very loosely defined, way beyond their abilities and qualifications. And what process was used to vet candidates, and then subsequently hold them to account, while ensuring due diligence. That requires the expectation of professionalism from those who are hired, but more so from those doing the hiring and creating the structure of administration. That no professional practice or processes seem to have been implemented says a lot more about the people in power than their apparent stooges placed in various levels of power and responsibility. Creating a structure like that, based on patronage in return for loyalty, disregarding the requirements for the wider public interest, will surely rebound on you at some point. It doesn’t augur well.

          • robert Hughes

            I concur , excellent commentary John and Ian . Another deeply frustrating aspect of the fact we’ve ended-up with this fiasco of an SNP Administration is that there is an abundance of clear-thinking , passionately intelligent , committed individuals in our country , who not only see through the ” Soft Totalitarian ” peities and woeful incompetence of this shower but have the requisite skills, perceptions and vision to energise the frustrated aspiration of the broad Independence Movement – if only we could remove the well-upholstered furniture cluttering-up our ( supposed ) Command Centre

  • David

    Not much to disagree with in this piece but I have been in Mauritius and I would describe it as an interesting and very mixed small independent country but definitely not wonderful. Sorry Mauritius but the most wonderful places I have visited on this planet don’t have lots of upmarket tourist beach compounds with security guards regularly deployed to keep the less affluent locals at arms length. If I ever get to the small independent republic of the Maldives, Craig, I’ll send you my opinion in a text.

  • Mary

    Ref The Maldives

    Pompeo met their President at the WH yesterday.

    ‘Ibrahim Mohamed Solih
    @ibusolih
    Had very engaging discussions with
    @SecPompeo
    on furthering Maldives-US cooperation from trade and investment to maritime security to countering terrorism and the climate emergency. Look forward to furthering Maldives-US relations in the coming months and years.’

    The West is after gaining influence over the islands. They rejoined the Commonwealth in 2018.

    https://www.independent.co.uk/topic/ibrahim-mohamed-solih

    • Giyane

      Ian

      From what I learn from Radio 4’s womens hour about professional women’s relationships at work a masquerade of female solidarity must be maintained at all costs and at all times. After all it is a man’s world. That may look like incompetence or professionalism but a couple kisses on a text in no way indicates personal or political affection. It is female solidarity.

      Men do the same. They fully support team members and play the game in spite of their private opinions. In the case of the SNP the uncomfortable ( to us men ) of female networking around a female party leader might interfere with our spreading Male networking . But hey that is party of being a human being, lots of different stuff going on at the same time

      Somebody in an organisation should be moderating, to prevent cliquing the tendency of cliques to gang up on others. Gender politics mustn’t be allowed to turn into androgyny or misogyny. In my own experience of life I see in human beings an extremely strong urge to demonize the other, and human ability to project much of what we don’t like about ourselves onto what we perceive to be a defenceless other. Square pegs into round holes. If necessary with a sled hammer.

      What ought to be happening now, after Alex Salmond’s acquittal is a period of repentance in which the perpetrators of the fit up suffer some kind of mental breakdown in order to change their harmful attitudes. That is one of the best things that can ever happen to a human being. It’s called growth. It hurts. It re-educates the individual and society. To pick on a man is as evil as to pick on a woman. Be nice and don’t do it again.

      Btw growth rarely happens quickly or in an atmosphere of heavy recrimination. The SNP has learned an important lesson , a step learning curve. Great loss of face all round. But then it must move on.

      • Achnababan

        Well said Giyane. Our flaws make us human and our ability to reflect and learn makes us good humans!

        The talentless bunch currently running the Scottish Government are unable to reflect because they are selfish narcissists and they rose to high positions because they are narcissists. Narcissists make terrible leaders and unfortunately people who could have played an important moderating role have been sent into exile.

        Leslie Evans is clearly narcissistic and is driven by her beliefs and ardently promotes woman like her at all costs – she was a terrible appointment to the role of top civil servant in Scotland. Underhand and with no obvious talent she allowed her personal beliefs come before her moderator role to the politicians in her charge. Typically, as for all narcissists, she surrounds herself with people who agree with her. The result was a conspiracy against Alex Salmond and an incompetent one at that! Narcissists are useless at planning and strategic thinking because they cannot understand that there may be people in the system that do not hold their views and cannot be intimidated such as a High Court judge.

        • Emma

          Well, we do tend to surround ourselves with people like ourselves. And there is a definite cookie-cutter feel to those at the top of the Scottish Gov. It is hard to tell one from the other, and very easy to mix them up.

      • Ian

        Singling out individuals, or making sweeping, antediluvian generalisations about them based on their gender, has nothing to do with the point i am making.

        • Achnababan

          Sorry but I didn’t’ read your comment Ian! I was replying to Giyane.

          PS and for the record, narcissists can be both male and female and I did not refer to gender at all. Do try to keep up!

          • Dawg

            Achnababan, you seem unaware that Ian’s comment is actually a reply to Giyane, not to you. The clue is in the indentation. Do try to keep up!

          • Ian

            Ach, I wasn’t replying to you, but giyane. It’s just they way the replies are threaded. No offence.

      • John O'Dowd

        “What ought to be happening now, after Alex Salmond’s acquittal is a period of repentance in which the perpetrators of the fit up suffer some kind of mental breakdown in order to change their harmful attitudes.”

        That would require a conscience. Psychopaths do not have a conscience. They calculate only what is good for themselves.
        Anyone who can plot to jail an innocent – possibly for the rest of his life, will be most unlikely to feel repentance. Rather – a continued lust for revenge.

        I respect the fine sentiments expressed in your post. But we are not dealing with normal people.

    • nevermind

      We all know what US ‘maritime security’ means Mary, once they got a foothold, this might end up like Diego Garcia, a thousand miles south, give or take.

  • Graeme

    I’m probably missing something here but if B Allison deleted the text she sent to Evans would the message not also be on Evans phone, any phone I’ve used records conversations so there should be 2 copies of that text 1 on B Allisons phone and one on Evans phone, what happened to the one on Evans phone ?

    • craig Post author

      We only have those texts which the Police and Crown Office have produced. I believe we do not know why we do not have Evans’ texts at all. I do know one key potential witness in the Salmond case told the Police they had dropped their phone in the bath and thrown it away, but I do not know if that was Evans.

        • Stevie Boy

          All texts travel via communications servers to their eventual destination. Service providers have copies of all texts, not sure how long they keep them but deletion from a handset does not delete them from servers !

  • Antonym

    In a normal country a Ms Allison, Director of Communications, would be forced to forget about her fancy government job.

    • Cubby

      Antonym – she is leaving her position at the end of this year.

      Not one person in the Scotgov or SNP has been disciplined in any way whatsoever over this whole scandal.

      • Stevie Boy

        For the professional politician, incompetence and corruption is now a job requirement and not an impediment to progress and riches. Do not expect repercussions or consequences, they’ve all got each others back. In fact, don’t be surprised if there are awards for ‘contributions to public service’.

  • Christopher Barclay

    ” … the Scottish Government employs an extraordinary plethora of officials, nearly all of them female, in non-jobs with silly titles at salaries that enable them to spend their vacations at the most expensive and exclusive spots on the planet.”

    Aagh! The patriarchy strikes back.

    • Hamish McGlumpha

      How very woke.

      The sisterhood will love you for that. Virtue well and truly signalled.

  • Republicofscotland

    Staying on the SNP, the EC’s latest production of there accounts shows that they’re skint, of course treasurer Colin Beattie claims the ringfenced indyfunds, which don’t appear on the accounts are woven through them, what utter bollocks is it any wonder Kenny MacAskill has come out and said there’s something not right with the SNP’s accounts.

    Meanwhile it looks like Sturgeon and Murrell will tried to ride this latest disgraceful revelation out over Christmas and New Year, focusing solely on Covid and the tier system. Then the real propaganda campaign can begin on promising independence for your vote. I hope the membership ask some difficult questions next month of these shysters at its conference.

  • J

    What disturbs me most about all of this is how seamlessly the leadership and national media worked together and how seemingly close the plotters came to jailing Salmond and diverting the cause of Independence from within. Looking ahead, are there any structural changes which might help prevent the same thing from happening again in the future?

  • N_

    Got to wonder whether an attempt might be made to jail Jeremy Corbyn just as they tried to put away Alec Salmond. Both Nicola Sturgeon and Keir Starmer are lawyers! (Although Sturgeon probably specialised in conveyancing and in maybe giving people the phone number for the local Citizens’ Advice Bureau and similar “work”.)

    • Goose

      Media manufactured scandals buttressed by legal threats seem to be the approach of choice for silencing critics.

    • Ingwe

      @N_interesting thought but, whilst Starmer may be a lawyer, his knighthood was not awarded due to his ability as a lawyer ; rather it was for his dutiful arse kissing of the security services.

  • Republicofscotland

    Christ the corporate media are still sticking the boot into Corbyn.

    I can say it now Corbyn has gone, he was a bigger threat to Scottish independence than the millionaire Knight of the Realm Sir Keir Starmer will ever be, Corbyn’s a socialist and he was all for implementing socialist policies that would’ve changed England for the better in my opinion.

    The Blairites and the right wing politicians throughout Westminster desperately wanted rid of him, as did the the right wing politicians corporate buddies. The really sad thing is that so many folk in England don’t yet realise what they’ve lost by the departure of Corbyn, but under this Tory government they eventually will, well most of them will., and they’ll rue the day they voted for the Tories.

    • portside

      It was never going to be enough for him to just be gone. He came far too close, so they need to permanently toxify his ideas, to re-emphasize there is no alternative to neoliberalism.

    • Goose

      A successful Corbyn premiership was never really viable though. That’s why I wouldn’t let today’s injustice cause you too much rancour. The socialist campaign group is some thirty-odd Labour MPs…on a good day; two-thirds of the party are centrist Blairite. Had Corbyn somehow become PM – likely with a small SNP aided majority, the centrists with the help of the press would’ve brought him and his govt down in no time.
      After seeing off centrist Owen Smith’s leadership challenge he should’ve introduced Open Selection and let the then huge, supportive membership weed out the right-wingers and plotters, but he didn’t, and the rest is history. Even leaders whose intentions are good sometimes have to show a bit of ruthlessness.

        • Goose

          Oh I do. It’s what he represents, it was ideological as much as anything and they don’t want others to pick up the socialist baton. Also, the fact he wanted to recognise Palestine meant some pro-Israel groups saw him as a mortal threat.

          But you have to be honest and say Corbyn was never the best advocate of his own politics. And he never took on the right of the PLP ; he was always calling for unity among those who were out to destroy him and the left. And as for the bogus, threadbare antisemitism claims, used to sully the party’s image, he never defended members or confronted those making these allegations directly, with a challenge for them to produce the evidence.

          • portside

            Ok, you do see it. But why use this latest assault to put the boot into Corbyn? What is the point of that?

          • Goose

            @portside

            But why use this latest assault to put the boot into Corbyn? What is the point of that?

            Just as solace I guess, for those frustrated with how the evil [email protected] keep winning. I’m merely trying to add some realism and point out a different political approach was always an impossible dream without changing the composition of the PLP; a composition Corbyn refused to disturb. Corbyn made the fundamental error of believing in others’ good intentions and goodwill and believing he could somehow ‘make peace’ with thoroughly objectionable PLP Blairite types.

  • Tatyana

    Do I get it right, that the Circle of Amnesiacs is also the Salmond Rape Survivors’ Supporters, Ltd.? Or, rather the Salmond Conspiracy Cover up Amnesiacs.gov?

  • Peter

    From Salmond to Corbyn these are dark times.

    And it is a particularly dark day for democracy when possibly the most anti-racist leader the Labour Party has ever had is suspended from the Party on the grounds of antisemitism.

    It is now time for these attempts to destroy the left in British politics to be met with the most forceful, determined and uncompromising response.

    It is apparently Blairite hitman and party General Secretary David Evans who ordered Corbyn’s suspension. It is he who should be suspended pending further investigation.

    This is no time to go gently … .

    According to what we’re hearing in the MSM about the EHRC report, which I haven’t read yet, this comment may be illegal.

  • Patrick Roden

    In the ‘digital world,’ it is very difficult to delete anything. All you really delete is the ‘address’ that links the output device to the data you are searching for. The data remains.

    So since we have now seen several ‘lapses of memory’ and so now know that these highly paid individuals all have very poor recall abilities, why doesn’t Police Scotland help them and us who want the truth and look again at all these phone records even those who have been ‘deleted’

    I also wonder what date the messages were deleted and how many other texts were deleted at that time.

    Highly paid, with very poor recall abilities.
    Highly paid, unable to form a policy to investigate staff complaints.
    Highly paid, for jobs that nobody seems to know what they actually do or why we need them to do it.
    Highly paid, and all having similar views on the controversial gender issue.

    What is going on?

    • Tatyana

      ‘Lapses of memory’ happened to Clinton with Lewinsky, Hillary with e-mails, Biden has something similar right now… Well, I can assume that Russia is to blame, probably some particularly evil Novichok, or a narrowly targeted virus. Has Ms Alison ever met a bat in the Maldives? Or a couple of Russian guys who look like KGB agents and gays at the same time?

  • velofello

    What we are witnessing is human behaviour in the raw, unconstrained by managerial control, or arguably guided by flawed managerial control.
    By whatever whispering means I as a manager would have been aware in detail of the complaints/strategy against Alex Salmond. My choice would be to – address the complaints via an internal staff forum, or “wash my hands of it” aware that by doing so the consequence of a successful result against him would consign him to prison for the rest of his life.

    “Washing my hands of it” might seem like a sophisticated clever legal strategy, or, human behaviour in the raw, unconstrained by neither conscience,moral guidance, nor empathy.

    Humanity needs to protect itself against itself. I have removed SNP badges from my coats.

  • Aidworker1

    The Rubicon has been crossed with Jeremy Corbyn’s suspension.

    This is simply too much.

  • James MacLean

    Could someone explain to me what were Police Scotland doing with Evans and Allison’s phones? Did those individuals have their offices, homes raided and other technology removed?

    • Achnababan

      very interesting question James…and further to that can I enquire since when do the police selectively recover texts or emails. Surely all texts sent and received would have been gathered in the police net…. they could not and would not have asked for just one or 2?

  • Maria

    “Police Scotland would have been able to deploy their resources to recover the obviously missing deleted text, either from the iPhone or from the service provider”

    Apologies for my ignorance, but why was Ms Allison asked to hand in her phone but not Leslie Evans, considering that
    Evans was heavily involved in the design and implementation of the new complaints procedure? Wouldn’t it have been the most logic approach to get the phones of all those involved in the process in order to get the full picture? Evans might have had the missing text in her phone at the time.

    • Emma

      Yes, service providers keep all your texts. Something stinks, I can’t see it, but I can sure as hell smell it.

  • Emma

    Surely Cyberkiosk (as used by Police Scotland) recovers ALL messages, including deleted ones (unless they had been written over??)

  • Emma

    What on earth is a member of the Scottish Government doing flying thousands of miles to go on holiday? What happened to ‘saving the planet’? Or is that just for the plebs?

  • Julia Gibb

    Why is the first text by Allison not being recovered?
    It is technically possible so why is it not being pursued.

  • SA

    Having no axe to grind something strikes me about some similarities between the Scottish Government and the British Government at Westminster. They both enjoy majorities that make them unaccountable until the next election. Whilst this may be potentially good for Scottish indipendence , it is not good for governance.

  • Jon

    Had they not been otherwise fixed on a corrupt intent, Police Scotland would have been able to deploy their resources to recover the obviously missing deleted text, either from the iPhone or from the service provider.

    Out of interest, do we know they were SMS messages in particular? For example, if they were WhatsApp messages, the telephony provider (e.g. Vodafone) or the app provider (WhatsApp) would not be able to recover them – they are strongly encrypted. I am uncertain if a deleted WhatsApp message can be recovered from a forensic examination of the physical phone – there are ways an app can delete items from SSD storage that makes them very hard (or impossible) to recover, but I am not sure WhatsApp does this.

    However if they were SMS messages, I expect the service provider would have a temporary record, and the security services would have a permanent record.

    • Tatyana

      WhatsApp is owned by Facebook. They are able to collect, store and in other ways use personal data, you may know from Cambrige Analitica story. No doubt the WhatsApp messages can be restored, but hardly Zukerberg ever confirm this fact in public.

      • Jon

        Tatyana, thanks.

        I understand your worry, and I share your concern about corporations. However, as a software engineer with interests in computer security, I am still fairly sure that WA messages cannot be intercepted in transit, in normal circumstances, either by Facebook, WhatsApp or governments.

        Cambridge Analytica was not about WhatsApp, anyway – it was an “app” that people were installing in their Facebook accounts that was spying on them. Users of the app (I think a personality test) were not only violating their own privacy, but the poor access permissions model at the time shared their friends’ data too. The data that was shared was not particularly personal, either – enough to work out, based on computer modelling, who is susceptible to what kind of propaganda.

        So, I stick to my view that WhatsApp messages are safe for now, especially if you delete them. They may not be safe in two cases: (1) if the authorities confiscate or steal your phone to examine the hardware, or (2) if your Android or Apple operating system is subverted by the authorities to run malware. They have the ability to do this, and they’d do it for the likes of Assange and Snowden, but not everyone under the sun.

        I think Zuckerberg is a bit of a shifty character, but honestly I don’t think he knows the ways in which Facebook has been subverted by the security state. It’s not like they have to ask his permission. I don’t think he cares, either.

        • Tatyana

          thanks for the comment, Jon. I understand that I am reasoning at the level of an ordinary person without the correct technical knowledge. Thank you for your opinion.
          I just want to add that Bellingcat’s investigations and the like demonstrate how easily any user is identified. And I have a suspicion that users who are politicians or other important figures are routinely identified by the secret services and all their content is intercepted.
          And my even more general reasoning is that if you do not want your dirty secrets to come out, then just do not do anything dirty. It’s simple.

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