Alex Salmond – After Massive Suppression Attempts, Testimony Finally Published 185


The importance of this is in direct proportion to the massive state attempts to block it.

Alex Salmond’s submission to the Holyrood Inquiry has finally, after bad faith attempts to suppress it by Linda Fabiani and the SNP MSP’s on her committee abetted by Andy Wightman, been published. I strongly urge you to read it in its entirety. You will, for certain, not see a fair or comprehensive summary of it anywhere in the mainstream media.

I make the following very brief comments:

It is perfectly clear when you read it that the submission in no way risks identifying any complainants – not even those who were perjurers plotting against Salmond. That was simply a false ruse used to try to suppress this testimony.

Nicola Sturgeon’s panicked rush round the TV studios this evening claiming that there is “no evidence” to support Alex Salmond’s testimony is an astonishing deployment of the big lie technique. Alex has confined his evidence strictly to what can be proven by documentary evidence.

The evidence of conspiracy which he notes as still being concealed by the Crown Office is precisely the same evidence the Crown Office concealed – and the judges refused to order disclosed – in my own contempt of court case. That is going to be a major focus of my anticipated appeal to the Supreme Court.

Alex’s evidence vindicates two years of my reporting on this case, in detail. I feel very proud this evening. It also proves the truth of my affidavits. The other documents to which Alex’s submission refers are most readily accessed here. I suggest however you first simply read through this submission reproduced below here as published.

Remember how hard they tried to stop its publication. Let that be a spur to you to read it.

I have highlighted a few key phrases.

Submission of Alex Salmond

Introduction

This is my fourth submission to the Parliamentary Inquiry. It should be read in addition to, and in conjunction with, the three other previous submissions. Those prior submissions relate to the application of the procedure (phase 2), the Judicial Review (phase 3) and the Ministerial Code (phase 4).

This final document accordingly includes an introduction and overview of matters linking each of the four individual submissions

It thereafter includes submissions on

1. phase 1 of the Inquiry.
2. the question of ‘conspiracy’
3. Crown Office

Documentary evidence exists to support all of the factual statements made in this submission. I have sought to provide that to the Committee where it is within my power to do so. Despite repeated requests, however, Crown Office has not provided the Committee with the critical evidence which was unable to be led in the High Court. Perhaps even more concerning is the direction from Crown Office that I face the prospect of criminal prosecution for even referring to the existence of such evidence or specifying (even in broad terms) what that evidence is. One of their letters even suggested that the Committee’s use of such documentation might also constitute a criminal offence

My hope and belief, expressed outside the High Court in Edinburgh after my acquittal, was that documents which were not put before the jury and the public would be published in the course of this Inquiry. To date, and despite the centrality of those documents to the remit of this Committee and the overwhelming public interest in their publication, Crown Office continue to veto any such publication under threat of prosecution.

Despite that deplorable prohibition, I can confirm that all of the material factual statements made in this submission are supported by documentary evidence. Where I am legally allowed to direct the Committee to such documents, I will be happy to do so.

Overview

The Committee has achieved progress in the volume of documentation supplied.
However it has been fundamentally obstructed in three key areas.

First on the legal advice which the Government received from external counsel in the Judicial Review. In normal circumstances the extraordinary discovery by this Committee that both Senior and Junior Counsel to the Government threatened resignation because the case they were being asked to argue was unstateable would
have been headline news. However, despite two parliamentary votes, the full advice from Counsel hasn’t been provided to the Committee. It is extraordinary that the Lord Advocate, who could sanction such advice being published, has refused to do so. The legal provision for him to publish in the public interest is clear. Inexplicably, the Lord Advocate has been able to simply refuse that request and to get away with doing so in the face of the will of the Committee and of Parliament. Despite that, it appears from what has emerged that by October 2018 external counsel advised the Government that, on the balance of probability, they were heading for likely defeat. And yet, despite that advice and the cost of hundreds of thousands of pounds of avoidable legal fees, the Scottish Government pressed on with a case they expected to lose. This submission explains why.

Second the restriction arises as a result of the failure of the Government to provide documents from when the Judicial Review started in August 2018 until the Scottish Government finally conceded in January 2019. There were 17 meetings with external Counsel, daily meetings on progress of defending the Judicial Review (according to Paul Cackette, acting Solicitor to the Scottish Government during the case) and thrice weekly meetings according to Ms Judith Mackinnon, the Investigating Officer. However, the Committee has yet to publish (or to my knowledge see) a single relevant minute, email, text message or ‘One Note’ from that entire period relating to those meetings despite being assured that such documents would be provided. Of particular interest to the Committee would be the extent to which various parties were informed of the progress of the case and in particular whether the Lord Advocate’s expressed views on “sisting” (pausing) the Judicial Review pending the criminal case were discussed, how widely and with whom.

Thirdly, the crown response to the section 23 request has hindered rather than assisted the Committee. The information provided was neither sought nor publishable by the Committee. Those in Crown Office providing that information must have been well aware of that. However, text messages which could be properly considered and published and which have been part of the Committee’s questioning and would bear directly on the veracity of evidence given under oath to this Committee have been withheld. The blocking of the Committee in this matter and others is nothing whatsoever to do with protecting the anonymity of complainants, which I support and have upheld at every stage in this process. Rather, it is a matter of the shielding of some of the most powerful people in the country who are acutely aware of how exposed they would become.

The Parliamentary Committee has already heard evidence of activities by civil servants, special advisers, Ministers and SNP officials which taken individually could be put down to incompetence, albeit on an epic scale. However taken together, and over such a prolonged period, it becomes impossible to explain such conduct as inadvertent co-incidence. The inescapable conclusion is of a malicious and concerted attempt to damage my reputation and remove me from public life in Scotland. It is an attempt which would, in fact, have succeeded but for the protection of the court and jury system and in particular the Court of Session and the High Court of Justiciary.

However, underlying all of this and perhaps the most serious issue of all is the complete breakdown of the necessary barriers which should exist between Government, political party and indeed the prosecution authorities in any country which abides by the rule of law.

In each of the written submissions under Phases 1-4 of the Inquiry remit I have sought to explore those themes, and identify evidence to assist the Committee in doing its job holding the Executive to account.

The success, or failure, of this Committee in doing so will have a very significant bearing on public confidence in the ability of Parliament more generally to expose failures across Government. The ramifications of a Committee unable to complete its work due to delay, obstruction and refusal on the part of those under investigation are both profound and chilling.

Phase 1

In relation to Phase 1, I am asked for evidence regarding the development of the policy.

I would make the following general comments, on which I will be very happy to expand in oral evidence.

1) Fairness at Work

The Committee has heard evidence on the origins of the Fairness at Work Policy 2010 (‘FaW’). As First Minister I approved the policy and, in contrast to any other witnesses before this Inquiry, I was actually involved in its development. Implementation of the policy was achieved with the co-operation of the trade unions and I was pleased to be the First Minister who sanctioned its adoption.

As Appendix 1 from a Management Board meeting of 23 November 2009 makes clear, it was not evolved as a result of specific complaints about Ministers at the time but reflected long standing trade union grievances about Ministerial Offices stretching back to the days of the Scottish Office. FaW was the first workplace policy to include Ministers and I approved it on the basis that it was made compatible with the statute based Ministerial Code in which the First Minister is the final decision maker on the fate of a Minister facing a complaint. This was done by placing the Deputy First Minister in the deliberative part of the policy. The result was that only after a recommendation had been made would the First Minister finally decide. This was aimed at avoiding him or her judging twice on the same case. The policy was negotiated over a period of 18 months, was carefully constructed, balanced and lawful. It was well received by all concerned.

In the event there were no formal complaints made against any Minister under the policy and thus it was never invoked. Specifically and to my knowledge the present First Minister was never informed about any complaints against me because there were none. Similarly I was never informed about any complaints against her or any other Minister under the terms of this policy because there were none.

In the evidence of Ms Richards (25th August 2020) she revealed that there have been two complaints under FaW against current Ministers since 2017. Presumably these will have been dealt with under the FaW provisions including the involvement of John Swinney as Deputy First Minister.

This Committee is charged with finding out what went wrong. It should also look at what can be done now to put matters right.

Fairness at Work, of which the Permanent Secretary admitted in her evidence (in response to Ms Mitchell on 18th August 2020) to “not being an expert”, is in reality a carefully considered policy which is still in operation for the civil service and for serving Ministers with regard to bullying complaints. The Permanent Secretary’s extraordinary claim in the same evidence session that it does not cover harassment can only be a result of her admitted lack of familiarity with the policy. In reality it covers this explicitly in paragraph 3.2.1. As recently as December 2017 FaW was hailed by the unions in a letter to the Permanent Secretary as an achievement “of which we all should rightly be proud and something that sets up as being more assiduous than our counterparts down south” ([Redacted] FDA Convener)

FaW is legal, not illegal. It is procedurally fair, not unfair. It was carefully considered, not rushed. It achieved the central longstanding workforce ambition of having Ministers on the same footing as civil service managers. No doubt it can be updated and improved but the current position of limbo is ridiculous.

The concept of a civil service investigation into people over which they have no legitimate jurisdiction is nonsensical and the idea of passing the results to the relevant political party for action is self- evidently ludicrous. If legal action wasn’t taken against the government it would inevitably follow against any political party which attempted to proceed with any form of disciplinary action on such an unlawful basis.

Fairness At Work should be reinstated at the earliest opportunity pending the Dunlop review.

2) The Development of the 2017 Procedure

The Committee has already clearly established that there was no discussion or information presented to either Parliament or Cabinet on the 31st October 2017 of extending work place policies to former Ministers. Nor was there any suggestion that this should be done in the Head of the Civil Service’s letter of 3rd November 2017. And of course it was not carried forward in any other administration in the U.K. and was opposed by [Redacted] of the UK Cabinet Office when they were briefly consulted on the proposal later in November 2017. As she wryly asked the Scottish Government at that time, was there also to be such a retrospective policy for former civil servants? Nor was the new policy signalled in any of the internal communications with staff until February 2018.

The claim of the Government is that it came about independently from James Hynd who was tasked with drafting the policy and delivered the first draft applying ONLY to Former Ministers on November 8th 2017. However the previous day Ms McKinnon had circulated a “routemap” of a policy which also suggested applying to former Ministers. Mr Hynd reacted to that on 8th November saying that “neither of the pathways involving Ministers look right”.

It is stretching credibility to believe that this radical departure from all previous policy in the Scottish (or any other) administration was simultaneously and independently dreamed up by two separate civil servants. This is despite Mr Hynd telling the Committee on August 25th 2020 that he started with “a blank sheet of paper”. In one of the many letters to the Committee from civil servants correcting their evidence, Ms Mackinnon conceded on October 31 2020 that these things were “happening in parallel”. Indeed they were and there was a common factor. That common factor is the Permanent Secretary Leslie Evans whose office was deeply involved in directing the work of both James Hynd on his policy and Ms Mackinnon on her route map.

In addition we know now that Ms Evans went to see the First Minister on November 6th about her information that Sky News were about to run a story concerning Edinburgh airport. I am now in the position to know exactly what this issue was about and the Permanent Secretary’s fears that it was about to break as a major story were groundless. However in the febrile atmosphere of November 2017 a sense of proportion and due process was in short supply.

In reality I had spent 30 years in public life in Scotland and for most of that time was certainly the most investigated person in the country by the press. It is inherently unlikely that misconduct had remained unreported and undiscovered over such a period. Mr Murrell confirmed in his evidence to this Committee that he had never heard of any such complaint against me in my entire time in politics and the First Minister confirmed this on BBC television to Andrew Marr on 7th October 2018.

Regardless, the chronology revealed by the evidence tells us that the Permanent Secretary briefed the First Minister on 6th November 2017 on the proposed story involving Edinburgh Airport. Further, the Permanent Secretary was contacted by Barbara Allison about a separate concern from a former civil servant on November 8th 2017. Having briefed the First Minister on the first of these it might be considered unlikely that she did not brief her on the second. In that context, the notion that a policy instructed immediately afterwards which specifically, and uniquely, extended to cover allegations against former ministers is co-incidental and unrelated is hardly sustainable.

If further confirmation of the basis for the policy were needed, the Committee has evidence of two directly political interventions at this stage.

First, the Chief of Staff to the First Minister drafted a specific amendment on 17 November 2017 which amended the commissioning letter instructing the policy proposing the wording “but also former Ministers, including from previous administrations regardless of Party”. This was in an email to Leslie Evans’ Private Secretary. It is impossible to accept that such a radical expansion of the jurisdiction of the Scottish Government to cover not just former ministers of the current administration but also those of previous administrations (many of whom are no longer even in elected office never mind in Government) was not specifically inserted to allow the complaint against me to be prosecuted.

The second political intervention was when the First Minister and the Permanent Secretary reached agreement, perhaps at their meeting on November 29th but certainly before December 5th 2017, that the policy should be recast in order that FM should be taken out of the policy proper and only consulted or even informed after the process was complete. This was a fundamental change in the policy.

The timing of this is significant. When the Permanent Secretary agreed with the First Minister that she should take over as key decision maker in terms of this new policy she was already aware of the developing complaints against me. Therefore she put herself at the centre of a policy in the full knowledge that I would likely be the first (and perhaps only given the subsequent declaration of illegality) subject of its implementation. Doing so from a position of already being tainted by bias is an extraordinary decision.

Despite her protestations to the contrary the Permanent Secretary was chiefly responsible for the pursuit of an unlawful policy which has cost the Scottish people millions of pounds.

In her letter of 21st June 2018 to Levy and McRae she describes the policy as “established by me”. She claimed ownership of it then, but not now. When asked at the Committee she said “there seems to have come into being a tradition of calling it my procedure. It is not; it is a Scottish Government procedure and one that has been agreed by Cabinet..” In fact, this procedure was never even seen by Cabinet or Parliament.

It was established by Ms Evans.

In her presentations before the Committee, the Permanent Secretary still seems oblivious to the scale of the disaster she has inflicted on all concerned or the enormity of the misjudgements she has made.

The view that she should have resigned on 8th January 2019, the day that Lord Pentland’s interlocutor judged the policy Ms Evans established and the actions taken as “unlawful”, “unfair” and “tainted by apparent bias” is widely shared not least by Cabinet Ministers. The damage she has done to the reputation of the civil service is very significant. In my view, any person conscious of the responsibility of holding high office would have resigned long ago. Instead Ms Evans’ contract was extended.

3) The role of the Investigating Officer

As the Committee has already discovered the “prior contact” of the Investigating Officer with the complainants was not “welfare”, as was indicated to Parliament, but was specifically contact about emerging complaints, weeks before the policy under which they were to be pursued was even approved.

The Committee has already established that complainants were informed that Ms McKinnon would be appointed the Investigating Officer in early December 2017, long before complaints were actually made. The Committee has further established that the draft policy was even shared with one complainant for her comment and that Ms Mackinnon was in contact with both complainants to discuss the basis on which future complaints might be submitted under the policy.

Documentation which finally emerged at the Commission and Diligence ordered by the Court of Session at the end of December 2018 demonstrated that the Government pleadings were false in terms of the nature of this contact. This has been admitted by the Lord Advocate in his evidence to the Inquiry on 8th September 2020. Again, such conduct appears to carry no sanction. These are serious matters, especially so for a Government making statements to a public court.

For example the “OneNote” from Judith McKinnon dated January 9th 2018, and revealed as a result of the Commission process, speaks to “changing” the position of a reluctant complainant, the sharing of complaints, and of it “being better to get the policy finalised and approved before formal complaint comes in” and of not telling the FFM until we are “ready”. It is this information that was completely at odds with the government pleadings in the Judicial Review and indeed stands in stark contrast with the oral evidence presented to the Committee.

These practices are not just wrong, they are an affront to the principles which underpin workplace and human resources policy across the country. The Committee has made reference to ACAS guidance at various stages of the Inquiry. How such conduct could even be contemplated by an individual employed at significant public expense and with a string of HR qualifications remains to be explained.

Watching the evidence before the Committee, it is apparent to me that even after having conduct declared illegal in the Court of Session, those at fault in the civil service still cannot accept the fact that they did something seriously wrong. In reality behaving unlawfully is as serious as it gets for any public servant.

The repeated claim that the terminology somehow changed for the first to the final drafts of the procedure thus causing confusion for those implementing the policy is not just irrelevant (since it is only the final version that matters) it is also untrue.

In fact one of the very few unchanged provisions in the policy as it went through numerous drafts and redrafts between November 8th to the final iteration on December 20 2017 was that the Senior Officer/ Investigating Officer should have “no prior involvement”.

Nor is it credible that the claim that the need for impartiality of an investigating officer or equivalent was misunderstood. On the contrary, both James Hynd (10th November 2017) offering 3 names at “arms length” and Judith McKinnon (7th November 2017) seeking to engage an “independent party to investigate” recognised this at an early stage.

Whether that person came from the broader civil service or outside it is secondary. Perceived freedom from bias is an easily understood concept which is well established in common law and in workplace policy. The appointment of Judith McKinnon in this light was always wrong and is incomprehensible particularly in the
face of the fact that she has confirmed before this Committee that the nature of her prior contact with the complainants was well known and indeed sanctioned among her colleagues and line managers.

When the fact of it was discovered by the Government’s external Counsel (and even after the duty of candour was explained to government lawyers by them on November 2nd and then by the court on November 6th, both 2018) the attempt was still made in pleadings to present it as “welfare” contact.

The documents which demonstrated this to be false had to be extracted from the Government by a Commission and Diligence procedure under the authority of the court as granted by Lord Pentland. The documents then produced under that procedure emerged despite the Government being willing to certify to the Court that these documents simply did not exist. That conduct is outrageous for a Government. At the Commission itself, Senior Counsel for the Government (himself blameless for the debacle) felt compelled to apologise to the court repeatedly as new batches of documents emerged.

It is highly probable that had this documentation not been concealed from the court (and from the Governments own counsel) the falsity of the Government’s pleadings would have been avoided. The fact that even after the Government case collapsed, misinformation then appeared in both a press release from the Permanent Secretary and the First Minister’s statement to Parliament of 8th January 2019 speaks to an organisation unable and unwilling to admit the truth even after a catastrophic defeat, the terms of which they had conceded to the Court of Session.

The interests of the complainants

I also want to make a submission about the claims by the Scottish Government to have promoted the interests of the women who raised complaints. That is, on the evidence before the Committee, clearly false.

The Permanent Secretary claimed to the Committee that the interests of the complainants were paramount in the Government thinking. This is very far from the case.

The complainants were brought into the process by conduct “bordering on encouragement” as it was submitted by my Senior Counsel to Lord Pentland in the Judicial Review

The complainants were assured that they would be in control of the process and that any police involvement would be their choice.

This assurance has been stipulated from the earliest origins of the policy (eg Nicola Richards’ email to Permanent Secretary of 23 November 2017) and remained in place until the Permanent Secretary countermanded it in her instruction to Ms Richards to send her decision report to the Crown Agent in August 2018, a move taken against the direct wishes of the complainants.

They were offered the option of making “anonymous complaints” for which there is no provision in the policy. However, when it came to actually protecting the anonymity of the complainants through a court order in the Judicial Review in October 2018 the Government was not even represented by Counsel in court. It was, in fact, me who instructed Counsel to seek that anonymity on the part of the women concerned.

The investigation was carried out against the advice of the police who pointed out that the Scottish Government were not competent to conduct the investigation. This has been made available to the Committee in the police evidence from the Chief Constable.

The reports to the Crown Office (instead of the police) were made against the express wishes of both complainants and in direct conflict with the terms of the policy at paragraph 19.

The leak of the story to the Daily Record on August 23 2018 was made with no consideration of the impact on the complainants, impact which the Permanent Secretary described in her evidence as causing considerable distress to all concerned. That, of course, was in itself in direct contravention of the confidentiality of the process promised to the complainants, and also to me.

However, it had been the Permanent Secretary’s own intention, despite police advice to the contrary, to issue a press statement confirming the fact of the complaints on Thursday 23 August 2018.

This Committee’s remit is to examine the actions of those in authority. Accordingly the conduct of the Permanent Secretary and the civil servants and special advisers involved is important. To claim, as the Scottish Government has done, that the wishes and welfare of those who had made complaints were central to the decision making is demonstrably untrue.

The leak to the Daily Record

In my view, the circumstances of the leak of the details of the complaints to the Daily Record on 23rd/24th August 2018 should be thoroughly examined. It is highly likely that the leak came from within the Scottish Government and, in all likelihood, from one of the Special Advisers to the First Minister. The background facts may assist

The Permanent Secretary instructed her staff to send her Decision Report to the Crown Agent on or about August 21st 2018

The Crown Agent, according to the police informed them of the Government’s intention to release a story of the fact of the complaints to the press and the Chief Constable and another senior officer advised against it and refused to accept a copy of the report. We know, therefore, that the desire of the Scottish Government to get these matters into the public domain is fully supported by evidence.

Despite this police advice, two days later the Government informed my legal team they intended to release a statement at 5pm on Thursday 23 August 2018. We advised that we would interdict the statement pending our Judicial Review petition and the statement was withdrawn. On the strength of that undertaking, we didn’t require to seek interdict.

We were then informed at around 4pm that the Daily Record newspaper had phoned the Scottish Government press office with knowledge of the story but had no confirmation. At 8pm, the Record phoned and then emailed at 8.16pm claiming confirmation had now been given and broke the story at 10pm. The second story they printed on Saturday 23rd August 2018 contained specific details from the complaints and demonstrates that they also had access to the Permanent Secretary’s decision report or an extract from it.

This leak was (according to the ICO) prima facie criminal, deeply damaging to my interests and those of the complainants and a direct contravention of the assurances of confidentiality given to all. After I formally complained to the ICO, the conclusion of the ICO reviewer assessing these facts was that she was “sympathetic to the thesis that the leak came from a Government employee”. The only reason no further action could be taken was because the specific individual could not be identified without police investigation. I intend to return to that police complaint when this Committee has concluded its review. I should say that I am confident that I know the identity of those involved in the leak.

John Somers, The Principal Private Secretary to the First Minister confirmed that her office had received a copy of the Permanent Secretary’s report in evidence on 1st December 2020. However, that evidence was then corrected to say that it had not been received. However, that is difficult to reconcile with the ICO review report (paragraph 4.8) which list the PPS, and therefore The Private Office as one of the stakeholders “who has access to the internal misconduct investigation report”.

It is unlikely that a leak to the Daily Record came from mainstream civil service. The overwhelming likelihood is that it came from a Special Adviser to the First Minister who had access to the report or an extract from it which was the basis of the Daily Record story of August 25th 2018.

The question of ‘conspiracy’

It has been a matter of considerable public interest whether there was ‘a conspiracy’. I have never adopted the term but note that the Cambridge English Dictionary defines it as ‘the activity of secretly planning with other people to do something bad or illegal.’ I leave to others the question of what is, or is not, a conspiracy but am very clear in my position that the evidence supports a deliberate, prolonged, malicious and concerted effort amongst a range of individuals within the Scottish Government and the SNP to damage my reputation, even to the extent of having me imprisoned.

That includes, for the avoidance of doubt, Peter Murrell (Chief Executive), Ian McCann (Compliance officer) and Sue Ruddick (Chief Operating Officer) of the SNP together with Liz Lloyd, the First Minister’s Chief of Staff. There are others who, for legal reasons, I am not allowed to name.

The most obvious and compelling evidence of such conduct is contained within the material crown office refuses to release. That decision is frankly disgraceful. Refusing to allow the Committee to see that material both denies me the opportunity to put the full truth before the Committee and the public, and makes it impossible for the Committee to complete its task on a full sight of the relevant material. The only beneficiaries of that decision to withhold evidence are those involved in conduct designed to damage (and indeed imprison) me.

From a very early stage in the Judicial Review the Government realised that they were at risk of losing. By October they were told by external counsel that on the balance of probability they would likely lose. This is the legal advice they have hidden from the Committee in defiance of two parliamentary votes.

As the Committee has heard in evidence there were 17 meetings of the Committee formed to monitor and plan the Scottish Government defence of the Judicial Review between August 2018 and January 2019. Paul Cackette in his evidence said that there were daily meetings while Ms Mackinnon suggested three times a week. Despite this information being offered at the evidence session of 1st December no information has been received by the Committee of any of these meetings. I believe there have to be such emails which show the Lord Advocate’s advice on the possibilities of sisting (pausing) the Judicial Review behind the criminal case. The advantage of doing so in a context where the Judicial Review was likely to be lost was clear. Any adverse comment or publicity about the illegality of the Scottish Government actions would be swept away in the publicity of my arrest and subsequent criminal proceedings.

It became common knowledge in government, special advisers and the SNP that the Judicial Review was in trouble for the Government and the hope was that police action would mean that it never came to court, that the JR would be overtaken by the criminal investigation.

In evidence Ms Allison on 15th September 2020 specifically denied that the Scottish Government had any role in contacting potential witnesses or former civil servants after the police investigation had started on August 23rd 2018. This is not true.

I enclose at appendix 2 a copy of an unsolicited email sent by Ms Allison herself to an ex Scottish Government employee on August 27th who then received a further unsolicited email from Ms Ruddick of the SNP the following day (appendix 3) The individual concerned, who provided a defence statement, had never even been a member of the SNP. I believe her contact details were given to Ms Allison by a Government Special Adviser.

Another Special Adviser was in contact with the majority of people who thereafter became complainants in the criminal trial, shortly after the story being leaked to the Daily Record on August 23rd 2018.

In his evidence session of 8 February 2021 Mr Murrell spoke of the letter sent by the FM round all SNP members on 27th August 2018. I pause briefly to note that despite the email reaching 100,000 members, not one complaint about me was received in response. However, what he did not disclose was the email round SNP staff and ex staff members sent by his Chief Operating Officer from late August 2018 (enclosed as appendix 3). This email was sent selectively. Some staff members were targeted and sent it. Others were not.

The recruitment of names to receive this email provoked opposition. Appendix 4 shows the refusal of a senior member of the SNP administrative team at Westminster to supply names to HQ. The staff member expressed the view that she was not prepared to take part in an obvious “witch-hunt” which would be incompatible with her professional responsibilities as a lawyer. At Appendix 5 I enclose the terms of an affidavit of the staff member who has agreed to have it shared with the Committee. What is clear is that even at the time of the initial trawl for potentially supportive individuals, there was profound disquiet about the ethics and legality of the approach.

In addition to advocating the “pressurising” of the police (those text messages are public and before the Committee), Mr Murrell deployed his senior staff to recruit and persuade staff and ex staff members to submit police complaints. This activity was being co-ordinated with special advisers and was occurring after the police investigation had started and after I ceased to be a member of the SNP. From the description of the material released to the Committee under section 23 it is clear that any supporting evidence establishing this point was not shared with the Committee by the crown office. Why?

It was clear that defeat in the Judicial Review would have severe consequences. Cabinet Ministers thought it should lead to the resignation of the Permanent Secretary. The Special Adviser most associated with the policy believed that her job was in jeopardy and accordingly sought to change press releases in light of that. The First Minister’s team felt threatened by the process as did the civil service. The documentary evidence shows that special advisers were using civil servants and working with SNP officials in a fishing expedition to recruit potential complainants. This activity was taking place from late August 2018 to January 2019, after the police investigation had started.

The Judicial Review cannot be viewed in isolation. The effect of it, and its likely result of a defeat for the Scottish Government led to the need to escalate these matters to the police, even if that meant doing so entirely against the wishes of the two women who had raised concerns. The Permanent Secretary’s “we’ve lost the battle but not the war” message of January 8th 2019 to Ms Allison whilst on holiday in the Maldives is not (as she tried to claim) a general appeal for equality but rather shows her knowledge that there were further proceedings to come and her confidence that the criminal procedure would render such a loss in the Court of Session irrelevant. I note in passing, that such language is, in any event, totally incompatible with the role of a professional civil servant.

The Role of the Crown Office

The Crown Office has intervened three times to deny this Committee information for which it has asked.

This has been done by reliance on legislation which was never designed to obstruct the work of a Parliamentary Committee acting in the public interest and investigating the actions of the Scottish Government. I know this to be true because I was First Minister when the legislation was passed in 2010. The true purpose of s. 162 of the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010 was to prevent witness statements falling into the hands of the accused and being used to intimidate or exert retribution on witnesses and further because of instances of evidence ending up held or disposed of in an insecure fashion. The basis of the legislation was Lord Coulsfield’s Report (2007) and the intent was to clarify the legal requirements of disclosure and to establish practical arrangements to prevent the misuse of disclosure. Thus section 162 (and 163) had nothing whatsoever to do with preventing relevant evidence being presented to a parliamentary Committee and its misinterpretation as such by the Crown Office is a profoundly disquieting development which strikes at the heart of the parliamentary system of accountability.

On 17th September 2020 the Crown Office said that our proposal to the Committee to identify the existence of documents which had not been provided by the Government but which had been disclosed to me in the criminal case would be covered by Section 163 of the 2010 Act that “any person who knowingly uses or discloses information in contravention of section 162 commits an offence”

Just in case we did not get the message he repeated the same point on 3 November 2020. On 17th December 2020 the Crown’s representative went further to block information specifically requested by the Committee “For you or your client to accede to the request of the clerk to the Committee would require both the use and disclosure of said information. As such what is proposed would amount to a clear breach of section 162 which, by reference to section 163 would amount to a criminal offence”.

He then appears to suggest that the Committee itself would be in danger of prosecution if we had acceded to the clerk’s request.

“Further, any person who received such information from you or your client would also be in breach of section 162, and consequently section 163, if they use or disclose that information. In these circumstances I do not consider what is proposed is acceptable”

This is a letter from an unelected official citing legislation passed by this Parliament for quite different reasons and using it to deny information to a Committee of elected parliamentarians. Some of the information we intended to provide included Government documents which should have been provided to the Committee in the first place. This position is extraordinary and totally unacceptable.

Given this attitude to disclosure by the Scottish Government and Crown Office, it becomes highly surprising that when this Committee exerted section 23 powers to require documents it was given irrelevant information for which it had not asked and could never be published while relevant information remained undisclosed. It is also clear that Government SPADS were briefing the media on this information before members had even seen it. This is not the behaviour of a prosecution department independent of government influence.

The Lord Advocate said in his evidence on 17th November 2020 that he thought the Committee has seen this correspondence. As far as I am aware this is not the case Nevertheless, I am happy now to provide that correspondence if the Committee so wishes. In his latest letter of 8th February the Lord Advocate pointedly fails to answer the specific question from the Committee Convener of 3rd February seeking confirmation that all Government records had been provided.

As was glaringly clear from his evidence and his inability to address the most basic of questions, his denial of provision of the legal advice of external counsel, his costly delay in settling the case, his refusal to confirm what the Committee eventually found out that both Counsel threatened to resign from the case, the Lord Advocate is deeply compromised between his twin roles as head of prosecutions and chief government legal adviser.

However the matter goes further yet. The Permanent Secretary has confirmed in evidence to the Committee that the referral to the crown office was contrary to the express wishes of the complainants. In spite of his protestations that he recused himself from anything to do with the criminal investigation. I believe that the Committee should ask the Lord Advocate directly whether he instructed two unwilling complainants to make police statements.

Secondly the Committee has heard of the highly unusual route via the Crown Agent that the Permanent Secretary ordered her staff, against the wishes of the complainants, to present her report to the Chief Constable. Crown Agent David Harvie’s line manager at that time was Leslie Evans, the Permanent Secretary.

The Crown Office under current leadership is a department simply not fit for purpose.

Summary

The procedure was devised when the Permanent Secretary, as decision maker, had knowledge of emerging complaints against me. From the outset the Permanent Secretary was compromised and should not have taken on that role.

The procedure was unsound not just in its implementation but in its genesis. It was devised “at pace”, probably with the purpose of progressing complaints against me and certainly without proper care or regard to its legality or effective consultation with the unions.

The documents disclosed to the Committee demonstrate further serious abuses of process by both the Investigating Officer and the Permanent Secretary.

In a further breach of the duty of candour the Government owed to the Court, those documents were not made available at Judicial Review.

The Investigating Officer had not just “prior involvement”, but subsequently regular contact with the complainants of a nature and level which was self-evidently inconsistent with that of an impartial official.

The Permanent Secretary who in her own words “established” the procedure met or spoke to both complainants on multiple occasions (including in mid process) and failed to disclose this in either the civil or criminal case.

The procedure was conceptually flawed and would have collapsed on principle even if it had been properly implemented. It is a retrospective, hybrid policy, which claims jurisdiction over private citizens who might have no connection whatsoever with the Scottish Government and shows complete confusion between the legitimate roles of Government and political parties.

It is demonstrably unfair. It transgresses the most basic principles of natural justice in not even allowing the person complained about the right to prepare their own defence. In addition, the Permanent Secretary denied access to civil servants, witness statements or even my diaries until they were pursued in a subject access request.

The Government was aware at a very early stage that they were at significant risk of defeat in the Judicial Review, and by October 2018 were advised that, on the balance of probabilities, they were likely to lose. Nevertheless they kept the clock running and the public ended up paying over £600,000 as a result.

This information on likely defeat in the JR was communicated to key decision makers

– the Permanent Secretary, First Minster, the Lord Advocate, the Chief of Staff- in meetings with external Counsel through October and November 2018.

The interests of complainants were disregarded by the Government in refusing mediation initially without consultation, being given no consultation whatsoever on the possibility of arbitration, being given false assurances on the Government accepting their clear view against reporting matters to the police and then sending the report to the Crown Office against their express wishes. The Government didn’t even instruct counsel to attend court for the procedural hearing to address my application to guarantee the anonymity of complainants.

The Crown Office has blocked key information coming to this Inquiry by wilfully misinterpreting legislation designed for other purposes.

The Lord Advocate is manifestly conflicted in his roles as both Government legal adviser and prosecutor.

The advice of the Lord Advocate at one stage included, for example, the option of sisting (pausing) the Judicial Review to allow a criminal case to overtake the JR proceedings. A consequence of this happening would have been to protect the government from the catastrophic damage arising from losing the judicial review and a finding of unlawful conduct.

This prospect provided an incentive and imperative for the recruiting and encouragement of police complaints from others.

This was done by the closest advisers to the First Minister and senior SNP officials actively involving civil servants AFTER the police investigation had started.

The Permanent Secretary ordered her decision report to be sent to the Crown Agent, David Harvie, against the terms of the policy and the wishes of the complainants. At that time I understand that she was his line manager.

Against police advice the Permanent Secretary decided to press release the fact of complaints on Thursday 21st August 2018. That publication was only prevented by threat of legal action by my solicitors.

A matter of hours later, there was what the ICO assessed as a prima facie criminal leak of information including details of complaints to the Daily Record, in breach of my rights of confidentiality, and those of the complainants. Such action was also contrary to the express assurances of confidentiality offered to all parties and central to such workplace issues.

The Judicial Review was only conceded when both Counsel threatened to resign from the case

The policy and actions of the Permanent Secretary and the Government were accepted as and then judged as “unlawful”, “procedurally unfair” and “tainted by apparent bias”.

The real cost to the Scottish people runs into many millions of pounds and yet no-one in this entire process has uttered the simple words which are necessary on occasions to renew and refresh democratic institutions – “I Resign”.

The Committee now has the opportunity to address that position.

Rt. Hon. Alex Salmond
17th February 2021

—————————————————–

 
 
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185 thoughts on “Alex Salmond – After Massive Suppression Attempts, Testimony Finally Published

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    • James Riddle

      Lady Macbeth made one crucial error – she didn’t have the witches (sorry – I mean the alphabet sisters) on-side.

      Now – if she had persuaded the witches to help her fit up King Duncan on rape charges, it might have worked.

    • Giyane

      Ian

      To be honest I see very little difference between consulting the devil and 24/7 universal spying. Except that the devil sees everything and then lies to you about what he has seen to wind you up, while the integrity initiative sees everything and keeps it all secret, inventing a totally different story for the press to publish.

      The devil always lies compulsively to create strife while II always lies compulsively to create an illusion of government order. Unfortunately us humble peeps have to be savvy enough these days to untangle both deceptions at the same time.

      The Jury in the AS case understood that Integrity Initiative had told the alphabet accusers to lie, and the press to repeat those false accusations. But they also heard the actual evidence that nothing had taken place. Craig unpacked the More Of lies of the deep state, while the witnesses proved that the complainer had not been present. Double- unlock to counter the
      Double-bind that is the devil’s normal technique.

      • Giyane

        Lorna Campbell

        Was it guilt? or was it a horrible feeling of having been lied to by the witches?
        If the witches in this case are the dark arts of the British deep state, you have to keep them, not the Murrells, in the crosshairs of your sights,
        They control the news, the papers, the Ministers, the civil servants, the police, the Lord Advocate, the inquiry Committee and they have tabs 24/7 on all their activities and weak points.

        Alex Salmond probably understands Nicola Sturgeon, but the war is not between him and her. It is between Scotland’s landlords and Scotland’s dispossessed tenants. That is why Craig Murray’s understanding of the corrupt nature of British neo-Imperialism, from harsh personal experience, cuts to the quick of this saga. The bastards are recidivist criminals.
        Alex Salmond just sushi between their chopsticks.

  • laguerre

    I see the text is now reported to have been withdrawn, and will be republished in redacted form. It will be interesting to see what changes there are. I presume the version published here is the full one.

    • Ian

      Apparently they want the bit about Sturgeon breaking the ministerial code redacted. Because that is a resigning matter, and she who must be obeyed must survive, so the power and patronage can continue being wheeled out. The thought police have been working overtime this week to readjust reality.

      • CasualObserver

        She’s finished ! Timing is everything, she’ll struggle on for a while only to be forced out closer to the election, thus ensuring that the SNP are in the midst of a leadership vacuum at the worst possible time.

        • James Riddle

          CasualObserver – the problem (for Sturgeon) is that if she resigns, then she understands full well that before long she’ll end up in jail. So she’ll do anything – absolutely anything – to remain as First Minister.

          Her motives in hanging on for grim death are completely clear. I don’t really understand the motives of those who are following like sheep.

          • CasualObserver

            Jail ? I highly doubt it. Ignominy, most assuredly. And I would suggest that to a person as driven as Ms Sturgeon, ignominy is a far more effective, and long lasting punishment.

  • Vivian O'Blivion

    “The view that she (Evans) should have resigned on 8th January 2019, … is widely shared not least by Cabinet Ministers.”

    Intriguing, I was proceeding on the basis that Nicola had replaced all Cabinet Ministers capable of independent thought with her Wokoharam, cult followers. Reviewing the Cabinet there are still some old faces (and one new, fresh face) that may be unwilling to partake of the KoolAid when instructed.
    Off to the shops to get the popcorn in for tomorrow morning.

    • Peter

      Based on what I’ve read Evans is the one most likely to be sacrificed so this might more likely be seen as ministers falling into line rather than out of it.

      Otoh, I’ve also read that Evans is the one least likely to take it lying down … interesting.

      • HorizonT

        Re “I’ve also read that Evans is the one least likely to take it lying down”

        Yes, if she is MI5 or near enough, her job will be to get taken down and then squeal.

    • Peter

      Truly astonishing just how much of current politics is taking place in court right now.

      Speaks volumes about the state of disrepair of our ‘democratic’ order and the increasing need for democratic reform and renewal

  • Peter N

    News just reported at the Herald: “Holyrood to censor Alex Salmond inquiry evidence after prosecutors intervene.”

    “It means a 36-page submission from the former First Minister will be removed from the parliament’s website “with immediate effect” and republished with changes.”

    Careful, Craig

    • Garry W Gibbs

      We now have two reports.
      One is uncensored and unredacted while the other one is censored and redacted.
      We, as members of the public, are free to view both and, indeed, refer to both. The committee, clearly will only be able to refer to the censored and redacted one.
      Does this mean Salmond will now not appear?

      • Kitbee

        Also I wonder if this trick of publishing in full followed by a redaction is an attempt to allow jigsaw identification for some purpose.

        • Kitbee

          I mean if the Crown Office order the redacted version (after we have seen it in full) and that leads to jigsaw identification who could prosecute the Crown Office?

          • Giyane

            Kitbee

            Very true. Tyrants hate exposure of their crimes. But by highlighting the exact information they want to conceal, they think they can accuse Craig of enabling jigsaw identification.

            Oblivious to the fact that a child of 3 can easily recognise that that was being done by them. Never the brightest brains of britain being hired by the deep state.

            Too much time spent in front of cctv screens rots the brains.

    • craig Post author

      Thanks Peter N. I shall very carefully not change a thing. I am entirely confident that the above gives no information that might identify a complainant.

    • craig Post author

      It is a great disappointment. I suspect it is principally a desire to ostentatiously align with the #Metoo movement. I have seen it widely asserted that after May he has been offered a paid gig on the Scottish Land Panel, but I don’t know if that is true.

  • Kaiama

    I got the original published versions from WOS. I shall be doing my own comparison. This inquiry bears all the hallmarks of a very dirty bog snorkelling competition final.

    • Garry W Gibbs

      Thanks for that.
      This whole business is deeply, deeply frightening.
      There seems, to me, to be an implicit direction towards guilt in the workplace once a complaint is made which is clearly prejudiced by previous historical misbehaviour and there also seems to be an implicit process specifically designed to help others make those complaints, support and encourage them throughout then make the accused pay all the consequences with identity breached very soon but protect and preserve the rights of the accuser.
      I’m starting to feel like Josef K.

      • Giyane

        Garry W Gibbs

        Thought crime. In my new and my original religion you are not considered to have done something you haven’t actually done. But in the cult of “”” woke “”” you are considered to have done it if you had the opportunity and no witness to support your denials.

        You could call it ” joke ” cult without the funny side.

  • Sarissa

    I hope everyone was able to grab a copy of the submission and appendices before the latest redactions.

    Scotland is now truly an international class laughing stock.

    How about organising a mass public reading of the newly redacted sections in front of Holyrood? I bet the TV crews are there.

  • John O'Dowd

    Letter from Alex Salmond’s Lawyers – looks like the Crown redactions have achieved the desired effect – to prevent him appearing.

    Totalitarian state!

    23 February 2021
    Our Reference: DMK/LL/STE039-0003
    BY EMAIL
    Clerks, Convener (and Committee Members)
    Dear Clerks, Convener (and Committee Members),
    Alex Salmond
    Given the urgency and importance of this matter, we are copying this to the committee.
    Pacific House 70 Wellington Street Glasgow G2 6UA
    T: 0141 307 2311 F: 0141 307 6857
    DX GW 149 Glasgow http://www.lemac.co.uk
    [email protected] Direct Dial: 0141 307 2323
    Thank you for your emails, first of all indicating proposed redactions and secondly confirming what the redactions were.
    This comes as a significant surprise and concern, given that clear agreement was reached on publication of our client’s submissions which are now widely reported and in the public domain.
    Our client is alarmed at the interference of Crown Office in a Parliamentary Inquiry, particularly given Lady Dorrian’s judgment last week in which she clarified her previous Order and which indicated that the publication of submissions were largely matters for the Committee. Our client’s submissions took full account of that judgment.
    Our client’s final submission makes clear his concerns on the role of the Crown office in this matter already. Today’s intervention only serves to reinforce those concerns.
    Neither we nor our client have any knowledge of what representations were made by Crown Office and on what basis they were made. We have not been contacted by the Crown, nor has our client on this matter.
    Our client’s submission was carefully reviewed by us and by counsel before submission.
    There is no legal basis for the redactions that we are aware of which you now propose having gone through that extremely careful exercise.
    This is our client’s submission and he is entitled to have it published. If any aspect of it is removed, it compromises his oral evidence. We have asked on numerous occasions for assurances on these issues from the committee. After publication of his submissions yesterday we concluded not unreasonably that the issue was resolved, partly to our client’s satisfaction and certainly to allow him to fulfil his oath.
    Your email potentially – and fundamentally – changes that. We therefore require to see URGENTLY the legal basis for the proposed redactions in order that we can properly advise our client and make further representations. These could have a material bearing on whether he is able to attend tomorrow.
    As matters stand, we have advised him that the apparent intervention from the crown suggests that there has to be a material risk to him in speaking to his submission. He cannot be placed in legal jeopardy.
    Levy & McRae is a trading name of Levy & McRae Solicitors LLP, a Limited Liability Partnership, registered in Scotland with Registered No SO305445. It is authorised and regulated by the Law Society of Scotland. A list of the members and their professional qualifications is open to inspection at the registered office, Pacific House, 70 Wellington Street, Glasgow, G2 6UA. We use the word partner of Levy & McRae Solicitors LLP to refer to a member of Levy & McRae Solicitors or an employee or a consultant with equivalent standing and qualifications.
    http://www.legal.netlink.net ASSOCIATED OFFICES WORLDWIDE

    Accordingly, please send to us now the legal basis for the redactions. On the face of it, our preliminary view is that the committee may well require to obtain further legal advice on the issue.
    Please respond in writing and as soon as possible. In order that we can properly advise our client, we require to see the legal basis for these material changes by return.
    Yours sincerely,
    David McKie Levy & McRae

  • Sarissa

    Andy Wightman recused himself from the SPCB vote that allowed the publication of the Salmond Submissions. I wonder if he voted on this decision?

    Either way, he can now point to this as a vindication of his position and conduct.

    Strange that an avowed environmentalist needs so much Teflon!

  • Hamish Kirk

    Too long and more than I can handle in reading. I fear that readers of The Daily Record, Sun and Daily Mail will miss out on all this. Modern Life has reduced my attention span to the length of an ad on Radio Clyde.

  • Lorna Campbell

    Peter A. Bell has an interesting article today on perceptions. If it were only the Alec Salmond affair or only the GRA reform/Hate Crime Bill duo or only the Brexit debacle, his take might be right, but, taken as a whole, the FM’s entire stint has been one long litany of intransigence, foot-dragging, head-burying and “I’ll do it my way, whatever the cost to country or party or independence itself”.

    It is the very consistency shown in every action all along the road from 2014 to the present moment that would make me think that the FM is at the very centre of it all, who is conducting the choir of acolytes. I have no doubt that there are those around her who think and feel as she does or who depend on her patronage, but the architect’s architect is the FM herself.

    Along with consistency, there is a dichotomy: ultra cautious on the one hand; reckless to the point of callousness on the other, which are also hallmarks of the Sturgeon reign. I would not claim that she personally orchestrated every move, but leaders never do because they have fawning sycophants who do it for them, or those who share the overall ethos and how to maintain it.

    Even as Mr Salmond went down at the procedure stage, and was picking himself up with the Judicial Review, there came the criminal charges and trial. I have always felt that there was something relentless and utterly callous about the whole thing. The same is to be detected with the GRA/Hate Crime Bills: nothing has swayed them from their path, no statistics; no pleas for compassion from women; no amount of contrary evidence about the harm being done to children and young people. Nothing makes them change course.

    Same with the Brexit overturning for the whole of the UK instead of independence, which was never possible for one moment. Same with the S30 Order. Unattainable. The overall effect, I think, has been brought about by the FM’s own personality, the determination of the civil servants to follow a certain agenda and the malign influence of Stonewall Diversity Champions’ SPADS and entryists around the FM, with spineless non-intervention by most of her MSP and MPs who are afraid for their jobs, all forming a soup that has been stirred by Whitehall and Thames Embankment and the resultant broth is now simmering nicely.

    The icing on the cake, or, perhaps, a better analogy would be the croutons on the broth, is the FM’s public persona which the faithful have swallowed – well, faithfully – without chewing. I have no doubt at all now that she will try and bluff it out on all fronts, and independence is as remote as it has been since 2014. Sometimes, though, it is not your back you have to cover, but your front. Et tu Brute?

  • nevermind

    Does it really matter if AS appears in front of this inquiry?, everyone knows that he wants to, his evidence is out there and whatever NS will say next week will be judged against it, not in her Parliament of likeminded and green collaborators, but with those who will have to canvass for the SNP at the forthcoming elections.
    Why should he incriminate himself tomorrow, when the Crown court is continuing to interfere with this so called impartial inquiry?

  • Peter N

    Just published in The Herald: “Alex Salmond pulls out of Holyrood inquiry after evidence censored”

    “ALEX Salmond has pulled out of the Holyrood inquiry into his fight with the Scottish Government after his evidence was censored on the advice of prosecutors.”

      • DunGroanin

        Which msm would report it without heavy editing and worm tonguerry?

        They disappeared Trump for gawds sake.

        The only thing the brutal thug owners will understand is an equal and proportionate brutal retaliation, i fear.

  • Peter

    With Andrew Neil and now the Mail (see Stevie Boy 17:46, above) on the case, it suggests someone higher up has decided enough is enough.

    And after today’s unseemly farce the whole thing may be about to implode.

    But then again …

    • Goose

      The concerning question is why the media are collectively holding fire? Are they in possession of damaging stuff they intend to drop before the planned unofficial independence referendum?

      Unlike Craig, the big newspapers have legal teams and will have zero fear of legal threats too. Remember the judges called out as ‘Enemies of the People’ by the Mail?

      • craig Post author

        It is no mystery at all. The media know that Nicola Sturgeon is the biggest obstacle to Scottish Independence, on which she has been blocking any actual progress for over six years. Of course they protect her.

        • Goose

          She probably doesn’t want to risk the dominant status they’ve arrived at under devolution. And she was never the fundamentalist, let’s UDI, kind of leader.

          Even her stated intention of going it alone on a referendum is not without risks, the UK govt’s response is unpredictable, they may all face arrest, and the polls have never really provided that comfortable majority certainty. The Tories and unionists are now talking about boycotting any new vote in an attempt to invalidate the result.

          • Goose

            Just to be clear. I disagree entirely with her handling of this whole murky Salmond business.

            But were she to resign now, I think the SNP’s polling would take a huge hit and in turn support for independence would drop. I don’t see someone riding in at this stage, with no comparable name recognition to the FM’s, and having a better chance of securing a that crucial Holyrood majority then using that as a launch pad to independence. Members may like the more amiable Joanna Cherry, but she’s unproven and would come under sustained media attack. John Swinney’s unproductive stint as leader shows what happens if the public aren’t inspired by a given leader.

          • Goose

            Correction: Joanna Cherry ‘s not even eligible to stand as she’s not an MSP?

            Forgive my ignorance, I’m in England.

          • Goose

            Who exactly could step in?

            It appears she’s not exactly surrounded by hugely respected, high-calibre people, from which an heir apparent is obvious. Probably end up with Humza Yousaf, he of the freedom of speech crushing Hate Crime Bill.

          • Goose

            Could even be argued, if she really wanted to destroy independence hopes, she’d ‘do a Tom Watson’ (c. 2019’s GE) and resign as leader and state she’s leaving politics, throwing the SNP into chaos before an election they look on course to dominate. If that happens then I’d support the theory she’s hostile to independence.

          • craig Post author

            She has no intention whatsoever of going it alone in a referendum. She knows she has to say that in order to get re-elected in May. Just at the last Holyrood election she very plainly said there would be a new Indyref if the UK voted for Brexit.
            I cannot understand in the least why you keep factoring her blatant lies into your reasoning.

          • Goose

            She’s on record stating that there’ll be a referendum “early in the next Scottish parliament”.

            How hard will it be for the entire SNP membership to hold her to that promise?

            I know my position on this seems unprincipled, given I’d like Starmer to go. But the situation really isn’t comparable. In Scotland, it could come down to whether you want to put up with Sturgeon for another 10 months or so, or remain stuck part of the UK for decades? The SNP’s current popularity and unionist parties’ unpopularity could merely be a political aberration.

            Salmond and Sturgeon are two of the most gifted, capable politicians of their generation and Holyrood’s electoral system wasn’t meant to produce majorities. There’s a risk some are taking things for granted when the opportunity might not arise again.

          • Goose

            I notice ardent unionist George Galloway is campaigning hard for Sturgeon to resign. If he saw her as an electoral liability to the SNP and/or a protector of the status quo, would he be making the case for her to go?

            Can’t both be right.

            Made this point before, but the SNP went backwards in 2017’s GE after the Tories & other parties ran a successful campaign arguing the SNP were quote: ‘banging on about independence all the time to the detriment and neglect of Scottish domestic matters”. The SNP went quiet on independence and in 2019 GE were rewarded taking back most of those seats. It’s hard to argue against such electoral success.

            They promised a referendum and failed to deliver. But we’ve been in a pandemic, holding a referendum or even going on about independence in a pandemic would be seen as politically tone deaf, highly insensitive by nearly all Scots . I think Alex Salmond understood that. Upon on emerging from court he said as much stating covid should be the focus , not me.

          • U Watt

            @Goose

            You believe Nicola is the key to independence. Yet you recognise that the London establishment and its media are not demanding that she go, even in circumstances that would have ruined any other politician.

            That suggests this particular politician is one the British state has a very special fondness for.

            Believe what your eyes are telling you.

          • Goose

            @U Watt

            I’m merely looking at the practical realities. I’ve already stated I think her role in this has been deplorable based on what is known.

            But face facts, it’s little over 8 weeks to May’s important Holyrood elections, if she were forced out now. The SNP would go into those elections leaderless (headless) with the unionist media suddenly piling on to do max electoral damage. The prospect of no majority for pro-inde parties and the SNP fragmenting will no doubt cheer the likes of Galloway and A. Neil and put a smile on faces of the likes of Sarwar , Davidson; Rennie and Johnson. But would the people who post here welcome that result?

            Inde hopes killed stone dead for at least another four years while the SNP descend into fratricide?

  • John

    Why hasn’t Sturgeon resigned and why haven’t charges been brought against numerous individuals named here? There is something rotten in the state of Scotland and it stinks to high heaven.

    • Garry W Gibbs

      John,
      This is not just in Scotland.
      It’s here in Wales, too. The Carl Sargeant affair was eerily similar. A man who took his own life. Tried and found guilty without even knowing what he was charged with or who had made the complaints.
      The costs of this extravagant debacle are completely unjustified. What the hell is this committee going to meet for tomorrow now?
      There’s nothing for them to do any more.

      • Wikikettle

        I feel another Novijoke attack coming up to take our minds of all these conspiracy researches. Also conscription and passports for moving from one post code to the next.

  • Lions Led By Hyenas

    Remember Hare Krishna and the mantra repeated over and over again until it gets lodged into your subconscious.
    Nicola Sturgeon’s daily briefing follow the same technique. Listen very carefully, it might explain how she brainwashes her legions of young zombie followers on Twitter.
    Or of course it could simply be explained by the following rule of thumb ‘Follow The Money’.
    A nice little precedent was set here:-

    https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/women-who-accused-top-officer-of-bullying-given-1m-kk8nrvsx9

  • Ciaris

    This debacle made the MSM in Australia. The reporting of course was just a good example of framing. Nicola’s office have spun the line about ‘conspiracy’, and this is the intended narrative. A standard example of (rather poor) rhetoric, intended to dazzle the audience. Nicola, as expected, is doubling-down. Bluntly, I don’t believe a word that comes out of her mouth, and whilst I respect the loyalty of her coterie, they might want to consider the consequences to themselves, and their own careers. Nicola will throw them under the bus in a heartbeat, indeed basically already has.

    I don’t know who the redacted names are, nor especially care. It’s important of course, from a legal standpoint. But I’ve already seen enough to understand Nicola personally is implicated, and Nicola personally should suffer the consequences, including resignation and potential criminal charges. I don’t know Mr Salmond, I assume Craig does, but from his public persona, he doesn’t appear to be a guy driven by revenge. He may be entitled so sue for damages, but doubt he will. But Mr Salmond is definitely correct to pose the question as to whether Nicola is a person fit for office. It’s clear she isn’t.

  • Crispa

    I remember once a pompous MP – I think New Labour – bellowing at an innocent if hapless interviewee at a Select Committee hearing, something like “Remember that you are appearing in Parliament, the highest court in the land”. In comparison this parliamentary review committee, which is investigating the wrongdoings of its own government to make it account for its known mistakes, is as effete and spineless as it can be. It seems unaware of its authority or unwilling to exercise it, over these proceedings as part of “the highest court in the land”. It is making a travesty of the democratic process.

    • alexey

      Amazing that the whole thing is now the public realm and yet they argue about whether or not it should be argued about. Get the feckin argument on. Honestly it reminds me of a certain parish council. Which country are you representing?

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