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The inquiry established that Nicola Sturgeon had indeed misled parliament but the word “knowingly” was withheld. Skin of the teeth ! Nicola!! But the public will decide as fact emerge over time. There is a saying “you can run but you can’t hide”

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The Civil Service in Scotland – A preamble

Awareness of operational working relationships between the Scottish Government and the Civil Service in Scotland is necessary to fully understand the complexities that contributed to the scandal that engulfed both entities at the time the SNP government under the leadership of Nicola Sturgeon decided on the political and personal destruction of Alex Salmond.

Responsibility for the governance of the Civil Service in Scotland is not devolved. It is accountable for its actions, through the permanent Secretary of the Civil Service in Scotland to the Head of the Civil Service at Westminster. That person is presently the Head of the Westminster Governments Cabinet office.

Leslie Evans, who heads the Civil Service in Scotland reports to the First Minister of Scotland ensuring the provision of efficient service support to Scottish government ministers, at all times scrupulously adhering to the rules and regulations for the Civil Service enshrined by laws put in place by the government of Great Britain and Northern Ireland at Westminster. It follows therefore that the rules can only be amended with the authority of the government at Westminster.

Proposals to make changes to the Civil Service complaints procedures were first muted by Nicola Sturgeon in October 2017, at the time Woke campaigners were on the warpath demanding the head of any person who, in their view was failing or had failed to adhere to their political agenda for major changes to the accepted norms of society as they presently existed, with the support of the vast bulk of the electorate.

Acting in isolation, without the authority of the Westminster government, Senior Scottish civil service officers accepted inappropriate instructions from Scottish political figures and in harmony with Political Advisors to the First Minister revised Civil Service procedures introducing measures providing a means through which Scottish government ministers present and past could be charged with misconduct and harassment.

17 November 2017: Evans seeks approval of the Cabinet Office at Westminster

Contact with the Cabinet Office at Westminster is gifted to the Permanent Secretary in Scotland and the proposed revisions to the Civil Service procedures were referred to the Cabinet Secretary at Westminster for final approval. Authority was denied, it being the view of Westminster that the proposed changes were ill-conceived, unworkable and a danger to democracy.

Leslie Evans was caught between a rock and a hard place. Only a year or so until retirement, a damehood and a place in the lords was in jeopardy.

But she was accountable to the cabinet Secretary at Westminster. So allow me a wee bit of writer’s licence. I advance that, allowing time for the chickens without heads to run-around for a day Evans decided to comply with the instructions from Westminster and put the proposed changes on the back burner.

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But the First Minster “GWOAT” and leader of the WOKE movement would not be denied and demanded action.

An opportunity for political mischief was not lost on the Westminster government who advised Leslie Evans to protect herself and Westminster by ensuring Sturgeon’s orders were put in writing.

Sturgeon duly shot herself and her government in the foot at a cost to the Scottish taxpayer of around £10-£20M. Money wasted on the futile and vindictive pursuit of a political rival by an elected politician.

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22 Nov 2017:

Nicola Sturgeon’s “instruction from the First Minister” to Leslie Evans reads:

“As is clear from the continued media focus on cases of sexual harassment, in many instances, people are now making complaints regarding actions that took place some time ago. I wanted to make clear that in taking forward your review, and the new arrangements being developed, you should not be constrained by the passage of time. I would like you to consider ways in which we are able to address if necessary any concerns from staff, should any be raised, about the conduct of current Scottish Government ministers and also former ministers, including from previous administrations regardless of party. While I appreciate that the conduct of former Ministers would not be covered by the current Ministerial Code, I think it fair and reasonable that any complaints raised about their actions while they held office are considered against the standards expected of Ministers. I would be grateful for confirmation that this particular aspect is being included as part of the review you are leading.”

Afternote:

In her letter of instruction to Leslie Evans, Nicola Sturgeon wrote: “people are now making complaints regarding actions that took place some time ago” which was untrue since at the time she compiled the letter only two officers had come forward with minor concerns and both had expressly said they did not wish to make a formal complaint against Alex Salmond.

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For those who are not yet familiar with the sequence of events leading up to Nicola Sturgeon “signing off” the “revised” complaints procedures I have added an October-December 2017 timeline consolidating the views of an eminent Scottish judge who ordered the immediate withdrawal of the ill conceived and badly drafted changes that had clearly been put in place with political malice aforethought and payment of Alex Salmond’s court costs (in excess of £500k). Reinforcing the views of many Scots that he had been fitted up.

The response from the Scottish government/head of the Civil Service was a statement that was crass in the extreme: “We might have lost a battle but the war goes on”. Is the reference to “WE” a promotion of the WOKE agenda?

29 October 2017:

The timeline – Late October 2017: Aamer Anwar alleged the existence of a ‘ticking time bomb catalogue of sexual harassment at Holyrood.

31 Oct: Political journalist David Clegg/Daily Record received “heads up” information together with supporting government documentation from an unnamed senior political source in the Scottish Government regarding allegations of sexual misconduct by Alex Salmond during his time in office. How’s that for a spoiler?

As at November 2021 (four years later) The police have yet to identify the political criminal who leaked the information. A scurrilous act of betrayal.

31 Oct: A senior SNP officer, Ms Anne Harvey, based in Westminster had been inundated with telephone text messages seeking damming gossip about Alex Salmond. This suggested that a fishing expedition had started in earnest well before any formal complaints had been made. Anne worked with Alex Salmond for many years and was an important witness for the defence, (but her evidence to the Parliamentary Inquiry was 90% plus redacted by the Crown before submission). She was also at the time, a close political friend of one of the complainers.

31 Oct: Holyrood civil service senior officers, including John Somers, the First Ministers “gatekeeper” were in attendance at a meeting convened by Nicola Sturgeon with the purpose of reviewing civil service procedures for the handling of workplace complaints. Nicola Sturgeon asked that a review of government policies and processes be completed to ensure that they were fit for purpose. This was not done!!

31 Oct: But James Hynd, Head of Cabinet, Parliament, and Governance, for the Scottish Government, apparently acting on his own initiative decided to target former ministers including them in his first draft of a revised policy. Why?? Because he believed he was in charge of the Scottish government’s ministerial code and he believed there was a “gap” that needed to be closed. In his evidence to the Parliamentary Inquiry he also conceded he was well aware of gossip about alleged misconduct involving the former First Minister, Alex Salmond, before choosing to include former ministers in the new anti-harassment policy. But he insisted he alone had decided to make former ministers the focus of his first draft of the policy because he thought there was a a “gap” that needed to be closed.

02 Nov: MSP and minister Mark McDonald, was taken in to speak to John Swinney and the First Minister’s chief of staff, Liz Lloyd, and was told his name had come up in “chatter” around “MeToo”.

03 Nov: McDonald met Lloyd, who revealed a complaint had been made against him about the offensive content of a social media message he had sent. Lloyd told him he would need to resign from the Government.

There were strong rumours that Alex Salmond was unhappy at the lack of progress on independence given the strong polling figures in favour of this and was considering a return to front line politics, possibly through the Aberdeen seat vacated by Mark McDonald when he was denied the Party whip in Holyrood. It was also rumoured that Alex would soon be installed as the editor of the Scotsman.

04 Nov: McDonald said Nicola Sturgeon phoned him in the afternoon and told him he would be expected to resign that evening.

04 Nov: McDonald resigned from his role as children’s minister in the Scottish Government.

04 Nov: In the evening, Sky News contacted the SNP Government parliamentary media office enquiring about Alex Salmond’s alleged misconduct with women at Edinburgh Airport. Permanent Secretary Leslie Evans and Liz Lloyd were informed. Both of them briefed the First Minister of events the morning after.

Afternote:

Leslie Evans, Permanent Secretary to the Scottish government, told the inquiry that on 5 Mar 2017 she warned the first minister that Alex Salmond had been calling civil servants in connection with a Sky News investigation into an alleged incident at Edinburgh airport in 2007.

The officials were a bit bewildered and unhappy about it and she advised the First Minister of her concerns. She was also worried that it could become a story and the Scottish Government needed to be ready because the media was very volatile reporting on everything.

She went on to say that a whole range of un-named politicians inside the Scottish government had been raising concerns about alleged sexual misconduct involving ministers.

Rumours had began surfacing in early November 2017 at the height of the “MeToo” movement campaigning, soon after John Swinney, the Deputy First Minister, announced a new zero-tolerance approach to sexual misconduct.

The briefing by Evans that rumours of misconduct included the former First Minister concentrated the minds of members of the Inquiry on the context of the closing statement of Ms Evans to suggest that the “new” sexual harassment policy had been “targeted at and designed to get Alex Salmond”.

Evans denied that was the case. But in late 2018, Sturgeon told the Scottish parliament that she first learned Alex Salmond was being investigated “when he told her” during a meeting at her home on 2 April 2018. But the government was forced to admit that she actually met one of Salmond’s closest former aides, Geoff Aberdein, in connection with the matter in her ministerial office on 29 March 2018.

06 Nov: Lloyd said she had been approached by several civil servants who raised concerns that Alex Salmond and his representatives were reportedly contacting other civil servants to ask that they provide supportive statements to his legal representatives relating to the matters raised by Sky News. The civil servants intimated that political approaches were unwelcome.

Lloyd was asked if she or some other Special Adviser could ask Alex Salmond to go through appropriate channels rather than approach people direct.

She was informed shortly after that the Permanent Secretary’s office had also been approached by the same staff and was taking their request forward, so she made no approach to Alex Salmond.

08 Nov: The first draft of a new harassment policy “Handling of Sexual Harassment Complaints Against Former Ministers.” written by top official James Hynd was circulated’

It stated that if a complaint would be lodged against a former minister and he/she was a member of the party in power, the First Minister should be informed immediately.

08 Nov: Barbara Allison, Director of Communications told the Parliamentary inquiry that she was first notified of concerns about the behaviour of Alex Salmond on 8 November 2017 when two female civil servants, (Ms A and Ms B) raised them with her by telephone. She had informed Richards and Evans, the following morning.

08 Nov: Ms B, related to Barbara Allison details of an alleged incident involving herself and Alex Salmond. Richards and Evans were notified.

The session required Alex Salmond to be photographed with one other person at his side on a small balcony.

Time, as ever, was a constraint and a rotating routine was in place requiring four people to be present on the small balcony throughout the shoot.

Ms B said that Alex Salmond had fondled her “bum” at the time she stood next to him on the balcony.

There were no witnesses to the event and Ms B had not reported it previously.

08 Nov: Both Ms A and Ms B were determined that they were not interested in making any formal complaint against Alex Salmond and expressed this to Gillian Russell and Barbara Allison at the time.

Their express wish was only to be allowed a personal meeting with Nicola Sturgeon. On both counts the civil service failed them and they paid the price of failure.

10 Nov: Evans appointed Gillian Russell, Scottish Government, Director of Safer Communities as the “confidential sounding board” for complainers.

10 Nov: In the course of an arranged meeting Ms A related to Gillian Russell the information she had previously advised Barbara Allison of only two days before. Namely an alleged incident involving herself and Alex Salmond. Russell, with the consent of Ms A, updated Richards, who in turn alerted Evans (who had been briefed by Barbara Allison the day previously) and through her office, Judith Mackinnon.

Details of the alleged incident related by Ms B: A “photoshoot” session had been arranged at Stirling Castle attended by Alex Salmond and a number of his close working colleagues, including Miss B.

The essence of the experience Miss A related was: At the end of a long evening, in Bute House, after dealing with “Chinese business” Alex Salmond suggested they could share share some “Maotai”, a highly potent Chinese “rice” drink, a few bottles of which had been gifted to him. She accepted the invitation.

There was no central heating in the lower floors of Bute House at the time and they retired upstairs to Alex’s bedroom where after indulging more than a few drinks they ended up quite tipsy. They both dozed off on a bed, fully dressed and enjoyed a “sleepy cuddle”. After a short period they both awakened. Ms A collected her papers. Alex kissed her on the cheek and she left to go downstairs. There was no intention of any non-consensual sex. Not long after, Ms A lodged a complaint against Alex Salmond.

The matter had been resolved to her satisfaction, using approved Civil Service procedures, following an unreserved apology from Alex Salmond.

Ms A was also offered a transfer away from Alex Salmond’s office without loss of rank or earnings but declined stating her preference to retain her employment and close working relationship with him. Which they subsequently enjoyed for a number of years after.

13-15 Nov: In an exchange of emails with senior civil servants, Hynd advised, “officials will also need to alert the First Minister if a complaint is lodged against a minister because she’d “want to know straight away”.

16 Nov: McDonald suspended by the SNP after a second complainer came forward against him.

16 Nov: Hynd emailed (Private Secretary 1 to Evans). (Policy on Complaints Against Ministers.” As requested”. James.

16 Nov: Hynd circulated to the Scottish Government civil service senior management team, and Lloyd (first sight, at her request) a second draft procedure titled “Handling of sexual harassment complaints involving current or former ministers.”

16 Nov: A copy of the draft policy was sent to the UK Government’s Cabinet Office in Westminster for approval.

17 Nov: Approval was not forthcoming. Instead the response expressed grave concerns about implications for politicians throughout the UK if the Scottish Government would be permitted to act in isolation from the other governments of GB and Northern Ireland introducing a process for complaints about ministers and former ministers which had not been universally approved.

The cabinet Office instructed that the policy changes should be deferred until such time as the other governments had completed their own reviews.

Reference was also made to the unfairness of the revised policies which demanded standards of personal conduct for Scottish politicians greatly in excess of those for civil servants which had remained unchanged. Double standards were not acceptable. The document was unfit for introduction.

Afternote:

The Westminster “Cabinet Office” exposed the hypocracy of the intent behind the proposed changes and rightly blocked the proposals.

17 Nov: Hynd forwarded the Cabinet Office response to an unnamed private secretary in the Scottish Government, (possibly Somers) who replied: “Oh dear, I did wonder if that would be their reaction. Not sure how long their review will take but Sturgeon and Evans are keen to resolve quickly and discuss on Tuesday.

I suspect we don’t have a policy on former civil servants. But we are looking at this in the context of the overall review of policies and the justification for having something about Ministers is the action that Parliament is taking in light of allegations about MSP conduct which includes a recent SG Minister?”.

Afternote:

Questioned by the Parliamentary inquiry Hynd said: “Nicola Sturgeon was keen to take national leadership on the matter and delaying implementation of the new procedure was not an option for consideration.”

Comment: But of note was that the procedure for civil servants was not updated to include retrospective consideration of harassment allegations.

Afternote:

Lloyd stated that the inclusion of herself in the circulation of the draft procedure created a requirement to identify and amend the ministerial code, if necessary since the code was the responsibility of the First Minister.

Comment: But the Ministerial Code and the proposed complaints procedure were the business of the Civil Service and the unelected Lloyd had no legitimate input.

20 Nov: Somers said  complainer, Ms A, arranged a meeting with him at which she told him of her past experiences in a way that would improve the organization and make sure that no one else would have to go through that sort of thing again.

She stressed she was not making a complaint, she simply wanted to assess her options for how she could best share the information. Her wish was to be allowed to speak to the First Minister which was why she had approached him.

Somers said he felt “overwhelmed” by the disclosure and informed his line manager Barbara Allison and the Director of Safer Communities, Gillian Russell.

21 Nov: Somers and two unnamed officers met with Ms A and advised her she would need to further discuss the matter with his line manager Barbara Allison, with a proviso that if she felt she was not being taken seriously or no one was listening to her, she should get back in touch with Somers who would set-up a personal meeting for her with the First Minister.

He never heard back from her. He went on to say that he did not tell the First Minister that Ms A had confided in him because it wasn’t his experience to share and had he done so he would have put the First Minister in a state of knowledge about something she could not have taken action upon until the new procedures were in place.

Afternote:

Nothing rings true in Somers statements to the inquiry since all of the officers named by him had been “in the loop” about the allegations of misconduct about Alex Salmond from 8 November, nearly two weeks before

Afternote:

In her statement to the inquiry the Scottish Government’s Director for Communications, Ministerial Support & Facilities, Barbara Allison, who was Director of People from 2009 to 2016, said that Alex Salmond was a “visionary and dynamic” and although demanding and difficult to work for people also expressed that they enjoyed working for him.

She had never heard of sexual misconduct concerns about him while he was the First Minister. Nor had she heard of any concerns being escalated to the status of formal complaints while she was in charge of human resources.

Afternote:

Allison also said she had not raised any issues of bullying or harassment with either Evans or Sturgeon and for clarity, she emphasized to the inquiry that she was not aware of any issues about sexual harassment” and added that she was a “huge advocate” for informal resolution, stating that if a matter could be resolved through this process, then “absolutely people must have recourse to a formal process”.

22 Nov: Nicola Sturgeon’s “instruction from the First Minister” was sent to to Evans. It read:

“As is clear from the continued media focus on cases of sexual harassment, in many instances, people are now making complaints regarding actions that took place some time ago. I wanted to make clear that in taking forward your review, and the new arrangements being developed, you should not be constrained by the passage of time. I would like you to consider ways in which we are able to address if necessary any concerns from staff, should any be raised, about the conduct of current Scottish Government ministers and also former ministers, including from previous administrations regardless of party. While I appreciate that the conduct of former Ministers would not be covered by the current Ministerial Code, I think it fair and reasonable that any complaints raised about their actions while they held office are considered against the standards expected of Ministers. I would be grateful for confirmation that this particular aspect is being included as part of the review you are leading.”

Note: The letter of instruction makes no sense since the newly written draft procedure was already in place and circulated within the senior Civil Servant management team.

And Hynd, the person who wrote the new procedure was not copied into the correspondence.

24 Nov: A fifth draft of Hynd’s, policy delegated authority to the Permanent Secretary to investigate complaints but made clear the First Minister should also be alerted. A copy was also sent to the First Minister.

23 Nov: Richards sent an e-mail to Evans, copied to Mackinnon “we would need to consult with the individual before disclosing to another party or the Police because of the risk of the matter getting into the press and the individuals being identified.

We have a duty of care for our staff which means we shouldn’t do something that puts them at risk, so if they don’t want us to share information or go to the police, it would be very difficult to justify (sic) doing so (without putting them at risk of being identified and wider impacts).

This was subsequently changed on 9th January 2018 to read “SG as employer will not refer specific cases to police without the knowledge/consent of the employee.”

24 Nov: Lloyd, Somers, Hynd and a member of the Permanent Secretary’s office, attended a meeting to further discuss the content of the “instruction from the First Minister” and to establish and agree clear lines of responsibility between the First Minister and the Permanent Secretary.

A second purpose was to reword the second draft procedure inserting changes designed to prevent the First Minister from stopping the Permanent Secretary from investigating a sexual harassment complaint made by a civil servant against a minister if the Permanent Secretary judged there was something to investigate. The change was put in place to protect the First Minister from criticism.

Additional input from Lloyd included the view that it was essential that the First Minister should be made aware of an investigation or allegation into a serving minister, before the event, in order to determine if, under the ministerial code, that minister could remain in post whilst an investigation was conducted.

Yet she later stipulated that on that date she had no knowledge, of any of the allegations against Alex Salmond that were subsequently investigated under the new procedure.

29 Nov: Russell wrote to Ms A “as agreed, I sent your narrative on in confidence to Nicky (Richards) and Judith (Mackinnon). I have now been asked by Nicky and Judith if you would be prepared to speak to them following receipt of your narrative.

As part of this discussion Nicky would like to share with you the developing policy for handling complaints against former and current ministers. This would give you an opportunity to test whether this would have helped at the time and also to consider next steps.” Later that day Ms A agreed to do so but reiterated her wish to speak first personally with Nicola Sturgeon.

Comment: So we have a potential complainant assisting the process of compiling the procedure to be used against the person she is complaining about. You couldn’t make it up!!

29 Nov: Richards, met with Evans, who then went on to have a “summit meeting with Nicola Sturgeon, “to discuss the development of the proposed procedure”.

30 Nov: Richards emailed Hynd, the Head of the Cabinet Secretariat: “Would you be able to send me the latest version of the process I agreed with Leslie Evans that I would test against some key individuals?”

Comment: Just who the individuals were was not revealed.

01 Dec: Hynd sent the “eighth” harassment policy draft to Richards.

04/05 Dec: Richards, redrafted parts of the “eighth” draft procedure completing her work 2334 hours on the evening of 5 Dec.

She then forwarded it under cover of an email, to Evans, Hynd, MacKinnon, and an unnamed lawyer. The email stated: “As discussed earlier today, I’ve made some revisions to the process.”

06 Dec: Richards, met with Ms B and shared with her the content of the revised 8th draft procedure, seeking and gaining from Ms B confirmation that had the procedures been in place at the time she claimed she had been sexually harassed it would have been of benefit providing clear instructions as to the courses of action available to her.

Comment: Unbelievable!!

06 Dec: Mackinnon, met with Ms A and after sharing the draft procedures gained from her confirmation that had the new procedures been in place at the time she was sexually harassed it would have been of benefit providing clear instructions as to the courses of action available to her.

Comment: Unbelievable!!

06 Dec: Evans emailed Richards, Hynd, and a third person writing, “Spoke with John S (Swinney?) last night.

We agreed you would send up tweaked codes in draft without any letters just now. and as discussed, info on the steps and touchpoints involved in the process also useful. Keep me posted back in the office tomorrow but happy to talk. John (Swinney?) also I’m sure.”

Afternote:

Evans told the inquiry team that she did not see a “natural role” for Special Advisor (Lloyd) in the Scottish Government response to the judicial review brought by Alex Salmond.

But a freedom of information response listed 17 meetings at which lawyers involved in the judicial review met with Sturgeon or senior staff, with Lloyd present at three meetings in Oct and Nov 2018.

Evans, confronted by the facts, was forced to correct her evidence to confirm that Sturgeon’s political special advisor, Lloyd, did fully participate in meetings at which the allegations against Alex Salmond were discussed.

Afternote:

Somers told the inquiry that he had no involvement in the development of the procedure used against Alex Salmond. This is not true. Somers, in his capacity as Sturgeon’s Principal Private Secretary, had a key role in developing the policy at a critical time.

5 Dec 2017: The “letters” that Somers was subsequently instructed “not” to send to Sturgeon were the “tweaked codes” which Somers and Hynd had been instructed by Evans to draft in line with the procedure as it had existed prior to her discussion with Somers, and for the purpose of intimating the new procedure to former Ministers and former First Ministers when it would be approved by the First Minister in due course. The “letters” disappeared from the development process after the discussions and the Scottish Government has persistently refused to disclose the contents.

Exactly what comprised the “steps and touchpoints involved in the process” was discussed by Evans and Somers but the content remains guesswork since no-one at the inquiry asked Somers, or has ever asked Evans, what was meant by these terms. But what is clear is that both Evans herself and Somers were “happy to talk” to Richards, Hynd, and the third person about these “steps and touchpoints” in the radically recast procedure.

There is a hugely significant context of the very obvious involvement of Somers, acting on behalf of Sturgeon, in the development, actually, in the complete recast of the procedure. For now, it is worth noting that Somers’s evidence on affirmation was given, as Somers himself pointed out, with the specific advance endorsement of the Scottish Government. Civil Service jargon for “not my words govn’r!!””

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05 Dec: First contact between the SG and Police Scotland was initiated by the Deputy Director of People, MacKinnon, who on 5th December emailed the Detective Chief Superintendent (DCS), Head of Public Protection at Police Scotland.

An email response was sent on the same date and a physical meeting was arranged, which took place on 6th December, attended by the Deputy Director of People, MacKinnon, the DCS, the Chief Superintendent (CS), Local Policing Commander for Edinburgh Division and Detective Superintendent (DSU) for Edinburgh Division.

In addition to the email contact between MacKinnon and the DCS and latterly to the DSU on the dates above, a number of telephone conversations and email exchanges took place between MacKinnon, and the DSU on 30th January 2018; 31st January 2018; 18th April 2018; 19th April 2018; 1st August 2018; 2nd August 2018 and 3rd August 2018. The initial email contact indicated that advice was being sought on the SG approach to sexual harassment procedures responding to the “Metoo” movement, and, SG obligations in response to allegations made by staff or former staff which may constitute a criminal offence.

06 Dec: MacKinnon provided information to the DCS and DSU about the reporting mechanism within the Scottish Parliament. A procedure very recently put in place in partnership with the Westminster government who had responded to widespread media reporting of alleged inappropriate conduct involving members of the UK Parliament.

A ‘hotline’ number had been launched by the Scottish Parliament which directed callers to support agencies and, where appropriate, the police. Hotline responders would not report matters directly to the police but would direct callers to contact ‘101’ or ‘999’ in an emergency.

MacKinnon, also provided advice that any potential victim or complainer would be provided with details of support and advocacy services. which would allow concerns to be discussed with an experienced advocacy worker with knowledge of the criminal justice process and to support the individual to report matters to the police.

Advice would be given that where criminality was suspected, individuals would be directed to support and advocacy services, to enable them to make informed decisions about whether or not to report matters to the police. Information that was reiterated on several occasions to the police in discussions with MacKinnon in the course of ongoing contact between December 2017 and August 2018.

A number of hypothetical questions were posed during email and telephone contact around the criminal justice process.

Police Scotland advised that, without specific details, no appropriate response could be given and no assessment of risk could be made. It was further emphasised that individuals should be directed to the relevant support services as it appeared that the hypothetical questions were predicated upon a specific set of circumstances and the SG response to that set of circumstances, rather than development of a generic procedure. The hypothetical questions also suggested more than one victim of potential criminality and as such, it was stressed that, without knowledge of the detail, any risk that a suspect might present, could not be properly assessed or mitigated.

It was highlighted by the police that that SG staff had not been trained to undertake such investigations, or to engage with victims. No details of potential victims or perpetrators were provided by SG and, throughout the contact, Police Scotland encouraged SG to refer victims to appropriate support services. Police Scotland was not invited to provide comment in relation to a draft ‘procedure’ or framework for the handling of harassment complaints, nor was any draft or final document shared with Police Scotland.

On Tuesday 21st August 2018, complaints against the former First minister were formally referred to Police Scotland by the Scottish Government through the the Crown Agent. This took place during a meeting at the Crown Office, Edinburgh, involving the Crown Agent, the Chief Constable and the DCS, Head of Public Protection.

Afternote:

Evidently the Scottish Government had no interest in developing a comprehensive procedure covering harassment in the workplace. Discussions between Scottish Government representatives and the police centred on a number of hypothetical incidents each of which provided indication that a very senior former politician was the subject under discussion.

The police backed off and raised warning signals about the SG methodology. They went on to advise that the Scottish Government was not qualified or trained to undertake investigations on its own and any alleged victims should be directed to “support and advocacy services” who could help them decide what to do and whether to involve the police.

The Scottish Government, ignored the advice and went on to conduct its own illegal and biased investigations and found Salmond guilty, and then when that illegality was about to be exposed it reported the complaints to the police AGAINST the express wishes of the complainers, and also against the rules it had itself written after taking the advice of the employees’ trade union.

Afternote:

Procedure: Para 19: Throughout the process, all available steps will be taken to support the staff member and ensure they are protected from any harmful behaviour. However, if at any point it becomes apparent to the SG that criminal behaviour might have occurred the SG may bring the matter directly to the attention of the Police. Also, if it became apparent that the matter being raised formed part of a wider pattern of behaviour, it may be necessary for the SG to consider involving the Police in light of the information provided. SG, as employer will not refer specific cases to the police without the knowledge/consent of the employee. Should either of these steps be necessary the staff member would be advised and supported throughout.

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07 Dec: MacKinnon met with complainant Ms B.

10 Dec: Evidently there was a deadline for the submission of the procedure for the signature of the First minster and this was confirmed in yet another email and document enclosure and to the same people in which Richards wrote: “I’ve updated the timeline and this is the final version of the policy I’ve sent to Evans.” The “air” of finality clearly suggested that the civil service team, supported by legal opinion were confident it would be signed off and introduced.

12 Dec: Evans and Sturgeon met and discussed the “new” procedures.

12 Dec: Evans wrote to Sturgeon: “You wrote me on 22 Nov regarding the review of the Scottish Government’s policies and processes on sexual harassment. As we have discussed, we have a shared commitment to ensure that the arrangements that are in place are effective and contribute to the work already in hand to promote an inclusive and respectful culture across the Scottish Government.

Your letter, in particular, asked me to consider as part of the review, ways in which any concerns raised by staff about the conduct of current or former Ministers could be addressed. I have developed, for your agreement, a process for how complaints of harassment, including sexual harassment, might be taken forward.

This new process aims to ensure that I am able to fulfil my duty of care to staff by taking the necessary steps to support the member of staff and to put in train any further action that might be required within the civil service as a result of the issues raised.

As far as current Ministers are concerned, the process will also assist you in taking forward your responsibilities under the Scottish Ministerial Code.

It also sets out how complaints against former Ministers will be handled. Given that the process engages the responsibility of the First Minister for the application of the Ministerial Code, we will seek approval for the ongoing application of the process on each occasion the Ministerial Code is updated.

I should be grateful to learn if you are content to adopt the process set out in the annex. As you have requested, I am happy to update the Cabinet about the outcome of the review whenever you wish.

14 Dec: Richards emailed Private Secretary (2) to Evans, Hynd, Mackinnon, and the Head of Branch, Peoples Directorate: Policy on Complaints Against Ministers:

I’ve amended the letter and policy in line with our exchange. If this looks OK I’d like first for us to run this past the unions before the final exchange with the First Minister. I think we should just share with the Unions the revised procedures part about current ministers because that is what would form part of our revised “fairness at work” policy. The process relating to former minister’s is more for us to know what we would do rather than to have out there as a published policy.

Comment: So the Unions would be provided with a selective brief omitting any reference to retrospective investigation of ministers.

14 Dec: Hynd emailed Richards, Private Secretary 2, Mackinnon and, Head of Branch Peoples Directorate 1: Policy on Complaints Against Ministers. Thanks for this. Some formatting wrinkles had crept in which I have now sorted in the attached version (‘final’). Other than the removal of references to ‘sexual’, the text remains the same as that which went to the First Minister and on which she commented.

14 Dec: Private Secretary 2 to Evans emailed Hynd, Richards, MacKinnon, and Head of Branch, Peoples Directorate 1: Policy on Complaints Against Ministers. I’ve just spoken with Hynd about another few small adjustments – just to ensure using consistent terms throughout. Nothing substantive. Hynd is kindly making those adjustments and will circulate the final version shortly so Head of Branch, People Directorate 1 you may wish to hold off your preparation of the version for Unions meantime.

In terms of timing to the First Minister, we will put the procedure to the First Minister once we have the green light from Richards. If we want to appraise the Permanent Secretary of timings and sharing with Unions, she is tied up in interviews today till 15:00 and then on leave until Tuesday – but contactable.

14 Dec: Hynd emailed Private Secretary 2 to Evans, Richards, Mackinnon, and Head of Branch, People Directorate 1: Policy on Complaints Against Ministers. Dear all. With sincere and deepest thanks to Private Secretary 2 to Evans, here is yet another ‘final’ version.

20 Dec: The First minister signed off the new procedure.

See the source image