David Clegg and his persistent pursuit of Alex Salmond: Extracted from: “Break-Up: How Alex Salmond And Nicola Sturgeon Went To War” written by former Daily Record political editor David Clegg and Times journalist Kieran Andrews.
“This was not the first occasion during my time as political editor of the Record that I had been given cause to suspect Salmond could be a potential subject of harassment complaints.
I’d been covering the Scottish Parliament for seven years when the #MeToo movement erupted in the autumn of 2017 and sparked a wave of intense scrutiny of the behaviour of powerful men.
I had a conversation with a Scottish Government official that would set the course for what followed. The well-placed figure said dramatically: “Everyone working in government knows that if a Harvey Weinstein scandal is going to emerge in Scotland, it will be about Alex Salmond.” Stunned by this comment from a normally level-headed contact, I immediately rang my editor, Murray Foote, to discuss what to do.
It was decided that I should drop all other stories and spend the next few weeks digging into Salmond.
I began contacting civil servants, SNP staffers and government employees I knew had worked closely with the former first minister in the previous two decades.
A pattern quickly emerged. Salmond was described as a ferocious boss and hard taskmaster who was prone to shouting and swearing at staff. The word “bully” cropped up again and again.
Several sources also claimed the Scottish Government had implemented a secret policy prior to the independence referendum to ensure the safety of female employees working at close quarters with Salmond.
Yet it was also evident the former first minister was an extremely talented and charismatic leader who inspired feelings of loyalty and devotion in subordinates – even those he mistreated.
The picture was of a powerful man with a quick temper who had presided over a toxic culture that saw his erratic behaviour indulged and covered up by the civil service.
On 31 October 2017, I submitted a series of questions to the Scottish Government asking if any complaints had been made about Salmond during his time as first minister.
In a separate media inquiry, I also asked if a policy had been put in place to stop women working alone late at night with him. The government insisted there had been no policy and no complaints.
Despite continuing whispers at Holyrood about Salmond having skeletons in his closet, none of the claims could be corroborated with sufficient certainty to allow publication.”
Comment: Clegg’s singular, persistent yet unfruitful pursuit over a number of weeks, seeking from Scottish government employees and civil servants, information that would be damaging to Alex Salmond was in direct contravention of the news editor’s “code of Practice”. Harassment: Journalists must not engage in intimidation, harassment or persistent pursuit.
Clegg and his editor’s freely admitted blatantly contravening the code conducting “a fishing trip” bordering on harassment that revealed nothing of any verifiable substance.
Information, or allegations of wrong doing, from any source, gathered subsequent to 1 November 2017 should have been given over to officers of the government at their request.
The next article will add comment to the foregoing.