Malfeasance – a word to be disassociated with
The Alex Salmond debacle provided evidence of serious shortcomings in the SNP government led by Nicola Sturgeon and there are growing concerns her government has become distracted by the pursuit of controversial political doctrine with result that it has lost its way in the efficient provision of Health, Education, policing and local government.
Worryingly boundaries between politicians, the Scottish Government, the Scottish civil service and the Law are being compromised, placing the health and well being of the people of Scotland increasingly at risk of political and social disorder due to the imposition of draconian laws and policies changing the accepted norms of society without consultation or approval of the electorate.
The Lord Advocate
Currently held by James Wolffe QC, the Lord Advocate is the senior Scottish law officer and principal legal adviser to the Scottish government and represents it in civil proceedings. The post also brings with it the role of leader of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Office, whose remit is to ensure an impartial criminal prosecution system and proficient representation of the public. The dual role requires him to be scrupulously independent as a prosecutor yet politically accountable as a legal adviser.
Absolute impartiality in thought and practice is not something that can be given over to “lip service” and there is increasing public disquiet over Wolffe’s perceived lack of impartiality in the handling of the Sturgeon Government’s badly botched civil Service led investigation and the criminal trial of Alex Salmond which, to the chagrin of Sturgeon resulted in his acquittal of all charges. Indeed she was so enraged that not long after the verdict was announced she used the cover of a coronavirus press conference to express her sympathy for the women who had made false allegations of harassment against him. Her actions also displayed a disgraceful lack of respect for the judicial system led by her Lord Advocate given that Alex Salmond had been acquitted of all charges.
Alex Salmond, when First Minster, to his credit, recognised the potential for difficulty and decided the attendance of the Lord Advocate at cabinet would be by invitation only. A measure used sparingly. But under Nicola Sturgeon’s government Wolffe has attended a majority of cabinet meetings.
Sturgeon has three options:
- Do nothing and risk legal and political challenges to her authority.
- Revert to the policy advocated by Alex Salmond and greatly reduce his attendance at cabinet.
- Formally separate the dual roles. This would require legislation which would be very time consuming.
Afternote: There are two matters of public concern yet to be addressed and Wollfe needs to prove his legal judgement is not decided by the SNP government. First there is the unlawful release to the Daily Record of details of the Civil Service investigation of Alex Salmond. Civil Service officers completed an investigation and concluded that the service was not at fault. The investigation was a political “red herring” designed to close the matter down and the suspect most likely is not a Civil Servant. Wollfe needs to get the police involved and charge the person concerned with malfeasance in a public office. This one will run and run until it is resolved to the satisfaction of the public. Secondly. The investigation of harassment allegations against Alex Salmond was an expensive “cock up” from start to finish and the senior civil servant management team should be brought to account. Justice would be best served by dismissing the Permanent Secretary, Leslie Evans. Sturgeon instead “cocked a snoop” at the Scottish public by giving Evans a whacking great pay rise as a reward for poor performance. Senior manager colleagues involved in the travesty with Evans, should be downgraded.