Scottish Government rocked by Salmond legal action over sex attack allegations
The former First Minister and Leader of the SNP, Alex Salmond has taken Nicola Sturgeon’s administration to court over the way that they have handled allegations that he sexually harassed staff members at Bute House in December 2013. Salmond’s application for a judicial review of the Scottish Government’s handling of the complaints process represents a declaration of war on Sturgeon’s government.
The allegations are believed to focus on two female members of staff and are said to have occurred in the First Minister’s official residence, while Alex Salmond was still serving as First Minister.
In his statement, Salmond denied the allegations saying, “I have tried everything, including offers of conciliation, mediation and legal arbitration to resolve these matters both properly and amicably.
This would have been in everybody’s interests, particularly those of the two complainants. All of these efforts have been rejected.
The Permanent Secretary chose to deny me contact with any current civil servant, many of whom wished to give evidence on my behalf and access to documentation to allow me to properly challenge the complaints, all of which I refute and some of which were patently ridiculous.
The procedure as put into operation by the Permanent Secretary is grossly unfair and therefore inevitably will lead to prejudicial outcomes.
It is therefore with great reluctance that I have today launched a Judicial Review in the Court of Session which will decide the issue of the lawfulness of the procedure which has been used against me.”
However, this morning Nicola Sturgeon hit back at her former mentor and predecessor stating, “Alex Salmond is now challenging the Scottish Government's procedure in court. The Scottish Government refutes his criticisms of its process and will defend its position vigorously.”
Sturgeon confesses that "My relationship with Alex Salmond obviously makes this an extremely difficult situation for me to come to terms with. I am also acutely aware how upsetting this will be for my party”
The revelations have sent shockwaves through the SNP and the nationalist movement in Scotland more widely. Whilst Sturgeon has been clear that she kept the process at arms-length, there remain important questions to be answered; if the allegations were made in January 2018, why was Alex Salmond not suspended from the SNP for the duration of the Permanent Secretary’s inquiry into the matter?
The date of judicial review has yet to be confirmed, however it is believed that the Permanent Secretary has referred the matter to Police Scotland who say they “will not comment” on an ongoing inquiry.