Former Scottish first minister Alex Salmond has denied sexual misconduct allegations against him and has said he will take the Scottish Government to court after criticising permanent secretary Leslie Evans' handling of the allegations.
A report in the Daily Record today said that the claims date back to December 2013, when Salmond was still in office, and have been investigated by the Scottish Government. The newspaper also reported that details of the allegations were passed to the police by Scottish Government officials after an internal probe.
Salmond has denied the claims and said he would take legal action against the Scottish Government over its handling of the probe.
He wrote: “For many months now, and on the advice of senior counsel, I have attempted to persuade the permanent secretary to the Scottish Government that she is behaving unlawfully in the application of a complaints procedure, introduced by her more than three years after I left office.
“This is a procedure so unjust that even now I have not been allowed to see and therefore to properly challenge the case against me. I have not been allowed to see the evidence.
“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 are patently ridiculous. The procedure as put in place by the permanent secretary is grossly unfair and therefore inevitably will lead to prejudicial outcomes.”
Statement from Alex Salmond pic.twitter.com/DUOTS7MriX
— Alex Salmond (@AlexSalmond) August 23, 2018
He added: “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.
“If I lose then I will have to answer to the complaints both comprehensively and publicly.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said that it would defend itself “vigorously” against Salmond’s complaint, adding: “We can confirm that Alex Salmond has initiated legal proceedings against the Scottish government and as a result we are restricted in what we can say.
“However, the Scottish government will defend its position vigorously. As a matter of principle and integrity, it is vital that any allegations of harassment are treated seriously and investigated thoroughly, regardless of the identity of the party involved.”
Salmond was succeeded as first minister by Nicola Sturgeon after losing the Scottish independence referendum in 2014. He led the Scottish government from 2007. He served as MP for Gordon from 2015 until he lost the seat in last year’s general election.
Responding to the news, the three civil service trade unions – the Public and Commercial Services union, Prospect and the FDA – provided a statement to the estimated 25,000 members employed by the Scottish Government, Scottish non-departmental public bodies and in the Scottish Parliament.
The unions say they have sought an urgent meeting with Evans over the matter.
“Many members will be aware of the recent news coverage into allegations surrounding the former first minister Alex Salmond and his response to those allegations,” the statement said. “It would be improper for the unions to comment on the detail of the ongoing issues at this time whilst the legal process in ongoing.
“However we would reiterate our absolute position that all workers have the right to attend their employment free from the fear of harassment, bullying or physical harm, and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect at all times. As such if any member has been affected by issues of this nature in their workplace we would encourage them to speak to their trade union representative, or to their full time officer.
“We have requested an urgent meeting with the permanent secretary.”
The statement added that the unions “strongly recommend to members not to engage in speculation or comment on social media or any public forum in relation to the allegations about and subsequent actions of, the former first minister”.