Comprehensive report covering the attempted political assassination of Alex Salmond – Scotland’s finest statesman-It is a very long read!!!!

A synopsis of the main characters involved in the unfounded allegations of harassment against Alex Salmond

Leslie Evans: Permanent Secretary: the most senior civil servant in Scotland and head of the civil service supporting the Scottish Government. Also the principal policy adviser to the First Minister and Secretary to the Scottish Cabinet. Not a lot of experience in procedural development or personnel management. Input limited to the approval of final documentation for the signature of the First Minster, acting on the guidance of senior managers in Human Resources. A feminist with a fascination for gender politics. Dating back to a study of Queen Elizabeth of England and her speech at Tilbury, “I know I have the body of a weak, feeble woman but I have the heart and stomach of a king”. Work experience shaped her politics and values, and views about diversity, equality and inclusion. Enthusiastic supporter of the now discredited aims and aspirations of the “Stonewall” organisation. Postscript to the debacle she presided over: She retired:

10 March 2022: Former Permanent Secretary Evans disrespected a parliamentary committee and ghosted into retirement with a massive lump sum gratuity and huge pension

Evans was a key figure in the Alex Salmond affair, overseeing the disastrous internal probe into sexual misconduct claims against the former First Minister. Her decisions contributed to Alex being able to overturn the findings in a judicial review case that saw him awarded £512,000 in costs. Despite the blunders of her watch Sturgeon stood by Evans throughout and refused to sack her.

As part of its work into the running of the Scottish Government, Holyrood’s finance and public administration committee approached Evans in October 2021 about her sharing with the committee her reflections and insights into her role. She was repeatedly reassured that the committee did not want to re-run the Salmond affair or revisit events examined by a previous Holyrood inquiry into it. Instead, the focus would be on “how government functions, the capacity and capability of the civil service, culture, and how policies are developed and implemented”. The Office of the Permanent Secretary wrote to the committee on Evans behalf refusing the invitation.

The letter stated: “Evans is on leave and she is effectively no longer a post-holder within the Scottish Government and is not able to speak on behalf of or represent the views of Scottish Ministers”.

In reply, SNP committee convener Kenny Gibson wrote to Evans making clear the committee’s displeasure, and releasing the correspondence to the public.

He wrote: “We are extremely disappointed at the discourtesy shown to the Parliament by your failure to engage directly with the Committee at any stage regarding our invitation, despite our best efforts. When we finally received a response, it was not from you, but from the Office of the Permanent Secretary, stating that, as you are now on a period of leave (dating from 31 December 2021 until you retire from the UK Civil Service on 31 March 2022), you are not able to speak on behalf, or represent the views, of Scottish Ministers. At no point have we asked you to do so. We have been absolutely clear at all times that our interest lay in your own reflections, not those of Ministers, to support the Committee in developing a clearer understanding of the workings of government in our new public administration role. Very few people have the opportunity to gain your level of experience in government, which we considered would have been beneficial in informing our future scrutiny. We are firmly of the view that it is in the public interest for the Committee to hear from civil servants as part of our public administration remit. You remain in the employment of the Scottish Government and we do not accept that your period of leave exempts you from giving evidence to a parliamentary committee, in the way suggested, adding given the time that has elapsed since our original approach to you and the response of 7 March 2022, we do not however intend to waste any more of our time pursuing this matter.”

An independent political observer said: “This is the latest example of secrecy from a tired and out-of-touch government.The committee deserved to hear from the Permanent Secretary, but she has turned her back on the committee and on proper scrutiny as a result. This sets a very dangerous precedent as civil servants are obliged to appear before our parliament’s committees. This is a disappoint postscript to the former permanent secretary’s public service. It is clear that the culture of this government is to hold the parliament and the people that it represents in contempt.”

Barbara Allison: Director for Communications, Ministerial Support and Facilities at the Scottish Government: Civil servant Allison, is an avid supporter of the “Stonewall” organisation and the Executive Team leader of the “LGBTI” employee’s in the Scottish Government. Promoting “Stonewall” she said “It has shown itself to be a powerful force for good in shifting perceptions and promoting understanding and we are delighted that the hard work of our LGBTI members has been recognised by Stonewall.” A close ally of Evans her role in the affair was to provide a positive influence, shield and protect Ms B until the affair was over.

James Hynd: Head of Cabinet, Parliament and Governance Division, Scottish Government: A Key figure at the start of the review process and update of the Scottish Government policy on handling harassment complaints, initially involving current Ministers then extended to include former Ministers: His influence in the process included writing a large number of draft procedures each one directed at bypassing the “Fairness at Work” procedures in place for many years . His advice on procedural probity to his colleagues in Human Resources was largely ignored.

Nicola Richards: Director of People: An experienced Human Resources manager had a key role working closely with MacKinnon developing the new procedures. It was she who realised Sturgeon’s early role and responsibility in the procedure needed to be adjusted so she would not be caught up in any allegations of impropriety. She walked the walk with one of the complainants and amended the 9th draft procedure immediately after removing any reference to Sturgeon until all allegations had been exhausted and the Permanent Secretary had decided on the outcome.

Judith MacKinnon: Head of People Advice: In the late summer of 2017 Leslie Evans who had no personnel management qualifications needed to strengthen her team. She recruited Judith Mackinnon, an experienced human resources manager, to a newly created, (very well remunerated) position. This is the same person that was previously Head of Human Resource Governance at Police Scotland. Hardly a recommendation for employment in the Scottish Government given the many scandals in the force in the years she was in post. See her record here:

Judith Mackinnon wreaked havoc within the Police force before being recruited to the Scottish Government Personnel Secretariat by Evans

In the Autumn of 2017, Nicola Sturgeon instructed Leslie Evans to complete a review of the harassment policy of the Government and to bring forward proposals for change drafting revised procedures in line with the Scottish Government’s transparency in government drive. The review was completed and the consensus was that they required very little updating but for no identifiable reason a decision was taken to write up new procedures which when in place would render the long standing ” fairness at Work” policy redundant. James Hynd compiled the first and second drafts of the new procedures thereafter fully involving Nicola Richards and Judith MacKinnon and others in the process resolving issues refining the policy.

It was this work that brought about the introduction of an untried, unauthorised by the UK Government, and illegal procedure in law for receiving and resolving complaints of harassment against former Minsters. Ignoring all warnings the new procedures were signed off by Nicola Sturgeon in late December 2017. Less than 2 weeks later, in January 2018, two complainants came forward with allegations of harassment against Alex Salmond under the new rules. To the uninformed observer it appeared there had been “malice aforethought” and the complainants had been waiting for the new rules to come into force since no effort was made to register the allegations in the past 4 years. The complainants alleged incidents they said occurred in 2013 (four years before).

Mackinnon, who had no direct management authority over the complainants spoke to both of them at length on a number of occasions whilst she was still involved in the process of developing the new policy opening herself to accusations that she had acted in a manner bordering on encouraging the complainants to proceed with formal complaints against Alex Salmond. When legally challenged on the matter in the high court the Government legal team accepted there had been a “significant amount of inappropriate direct personal contact” between Mackinnon and the complainants.

Evans, who appointed Mackinnon to formally investigate the allegations said she had acted on the advice of a senior colleague in Human Resources (Richards). But in doing so she accepted she had compromised the procedures she and Mackinnon had only recently put in place! Plonkers!.

John Somers: Principal Private Secretary (PPS) to the First Minister, Scottish Government: Not long after the Holyrood Inquiry was complete civil servant Somers was promoted by Sturgeon to the post of Deputy Director of a newly created Police Division of the Scottish Government. He held two meetings with one of the complainants at which she asked to meet with Sturgeon. He denied her requests and escalated the matter to Barbara Allison, his line manager. Amazing!!! A very senior civil service manager of many years claimed to be so overwhelmed by a bit of informal tittle tattle related to him by Ms A that he felt he had to betray her confidence and formalize matters through his line manager when Ms A had approached him in confidence, clearly indicating a fervent wish not to register any allegation against Alex Salmond but only to be allowed to share her experience with the First Minister. Somers denied Ms A the audience with the First Minister stating it was his duty as her “gatekeeper” to protect the First Minister from being contaminated by any tales of tittle tattle that might threaten to derail the successful development of harassment procedures against former ministers which were to be set in place within days. An incredulous admission that was never raised by any member of the inquiry confirming the inadequacy of its selection. His contribution, protecting Sturgeon, was significant and under the radar.

Liz Lloyd: Sturgeon’s Chief of Staff: A Spad in the Scottish Government from 2004 she rose through the ranks of government to serve in a number of key roles. A major influence in the controversial harassment campaign against Alex Salmond. Accused of interfering in the process she was forced to leave her post and take a long sabbatical from which she returned to her Spad duties with the Scottish Government as Sturgeon’s Strategic Policy and Political Adviser.

A key figure who together with Nicola Sturgeon, Leslie Evans and other senior civil service managers participated in the compilation and implementation of a unique but illegal new harassment policy which would include previous Ministers without Cabinet discussion or Parliament debate. An untried policy compiled in secret with a single aim replaced the trade union-negotiated, and supported “Fairness at Work” policy put in place years before by a Government led by Alex Salmond.

Gillian Russell: Director, Health Workforce, Scottish Government: Civil servant Russell has many years of experience within the Senior Civil Service in the Scottish Government working across five very different high impact roles. A lawyer by background, Gillian spent three years advising at senior level across health and social care before moving to a social policy role. She was an ideal choice for staff to go to if they believed they had been on the receiving end of inappropriate behaviour. Her involvement in the affair required her to act as an “agony Aunt” for Ms A whose historical complaint against Alex Salmond had been resolved many years before and thee were doubts about its probity.

James Wolffe: known as the Lord Advocate, is the chief legal officer of the Scottish Government and the Crown in Scotland for both civil and criminal matters that fall within the devolved powers of the Scottish Government: It is a long-standing feature of Scots law that the Lord Advocate performs two quite incompatible roles. On the one hand, the Lord Advocate is the Head of the Scots state prosecution service, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) and yet he or she is also a minister of the Scottish Government and acts as its Chief Legal Advisor. This is an anomalous and unsatisfactory situation. In his evidence to the Holyrood Inquiry he said the handling of sexual misconduct complaints against Alex Salmond had been delegated and all decisions were made by the Crown Agent and neither he nor the Solicitor General took any part in the proceedings. He also expressly stated that “any suggestion from any quarter that the Crown’s decision making has at any time been influenced by irrelevant considerations or improper motivations would be wholly without foundation. Insinuations or assertions to the contrary are baseless.”

David Harvie: Crown Agent, the head of Scotland’s prosecution service: It is unclear at what stage he got involved. He asserts it was 21 August 2018 at the time he received correspondence and documents from Evans. But other information indicates he was actively engaged with MacKinnon before that. The Lord Advocate said he was not involved but the truth of the matter is that it was himself who referred the Government case against Alex Salmond to the Crown Agent. In turn Harvie tried but failed to brief the police and hand to them the information passed to The Crown Office by Evans. That the police refused to get involved at that time was laudable. Harvie’s track record is not inspiring. He is reputed to be an MI5 agent who was ordered off the Lockerbie trial. See

Northern Irishman David Clegg first appeared on the scene in Scotland around 2007 when he took up a post with the Dundee Courier. He enhanced his reputation as an investigative journalist reporting events in Holyrood and doubled up on his day job working for Sky News reporting on politics of the day in Scotland.

He was a busy young man and transferred his employment to the Dundee Courier first as the Assistant then Editor between 2010 -2012 before moving to the Daily Record where he reported politics between 2012-2019. A full circle of employment took him back as editor to the Dundee Courier in November 2019.

He is a bit of an enigma since there is little on record about his personal life before his sojourn in Scotland but through his coverage of news and current affairs he quickly established a wide gathering of informers in Scotland, or maybe he had friends in “high places”. But his political coverage of Scottish events up to the start of the 2014 Independence Referendum was marked by fairness and gained him a number of awards for political journalism.

He revealed his political leaning at the beginning of 2014 and it was Unionist. The Orangeman man from Ulster antagonised Scottish independence supporters through his relentless attacks on the SNP (mainly Alex Salmond) supported by the political and legal protection of the Unionist political mouthpiece the “Daily Record”.

Sturgeon, who was supposed to be leading the SNP campaign for freedom, raised many eyebrows when she defended Clegg’s right to free speech in a “twitter” post in which he criticised supporters of independence of being “cybernats” . Her intervention would have been better received if she had criticised both sides but she didn’t. Why would be revealed after Alex retired at the end of 2014.

After being cheated of victoryin the 2014 referendum through the illegal treachery of the reincarnation of a few Daniel Defoe’s at the “Daily Record” the hurt was very painful for Alex and he stood down handing control of the Party to the ambitious but, untried Sturgeon anticipating there would be much for her to do to take Scotland forward equipped with many new powers assured by “the Vow”.

That was his big mistake and he lived to regret it. As predicted by Scottish nationalists who had campaigned day and night for nearly a year, Westminster renaged on the promises made in “the Vow” aided by hopelessly inept bargaining by John Sweeney and his SNP team who allowed themselves to be set-up as the lesser particpants in a significant minority with Unionist political Partys’.

Clegg’s singular pursuit of Alex Salmond over many months was relentless. He badgered Scottish government employees and civil servants for information that would be damaging to Alex, contravening conditions contained in the news editor’s “code of Practice”. and misreported claims in his Daily Record headline of August 2018 in which he claimed that Alex had been reported to the police over sexual assault allegations which was not the case. He and Times journalist Keiran Andrews even had the audacity to write a book about theirfun and games,”Break-Up: How Alex Salmond And Nicola Sturgeon Went To War”. More on Clegg here:

16 August 2017: Alex Salmond’s Edinburgh Fringe show A Sell out triumph

Over the two weeks of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August 2017, Alex was joined on stage with a different celebrity guest each night.

Speaking as he announced the show Alex said: “I have always fancied a spot at the Edinburgh Fringe and this is going to be lots of fun. “Obviously in the show there will be lots about politics but the emphasis will be very much on the lighter side. “Among the invited guests there is already plenty of excitement and quite a few surprises. I suspect some people might be taken aback at the range of friends whom I invite along.”

At the end of each show there was a charity auction, usually dinner with Alex and his guest. The money raised, around £1000 nightly was donated to homeless charities. Nicola Sturgeon, John Sweeney and members of the SNP Government were not invited.

Holyrood Inquiry revelations: The Scottish Government provided professionally delivered coaching sessions for employees called to give evidence to the Holyrood Inquiry. Cost to the Scottish taxpayer £50,000. The Government dnied the contract provided coaching which would be illegal but the Inquiry failed to follow up on the matter.

The Narrative

31 October 2017: The Cabinet of the Scottish Government provided its civil servants with a “commission” – a formal instruction – which was recorded in the Cabinet minutes under the heading of “Sexual Harassment” as follows: “While there is no suggestion that the current arrangements are ineffective, the First Minister has asked the Permanent Secretary to undertake a review of the Scottish Government’s policies and processes to ensure they are fit for purpose.”

Comment: Sturgeon’s own observation concluded that the procedures in place were effective and they contained no mention of retrospective allegations against former ministers. Perhaps because there was no precedence in employment law that would allow it. The only recourse open to an aggrieved person was to inform the police.

If after reviewing the documentation Evans honestly thought that the Scottish Government’s policies and procedures would be fit for purpose only after a retrospective clause had been inserted into them it was incumbent on her to conform with the “Ministerial Code” and furnish Sturgeon with evidence of a need to do so.

The Ministerial Code states: It is for the First Minister to judge the standards of behaviour expected of Ministers. It is for the First Minister to decide whether there has been a breach of such standards. And, where the First Minister decides that there has been such a breach, it is for the First Minister to decide what the consequences for the Minister are to be. Very explicit!!! Any allegations of misconduct against Ministers should be reported to Sturgeon immediately.

31 October 2017: Ann Harvey, principal assistant to the chief whip at the SNP’s Westminster Group reported to the Inquiry that she had received 16 text messages, some from SNP HQ, to her private number, each one fishing for information which could be damaging if used against Alex Salmond. A few persisted in asking for confirmation that Sue Ruddick ( a personal friend and ex colleague of Ann) had been physically assaulted by Alex while they were campaigning together during the 2008 General Election campaign. Her answer to that enquiry was a categorical rebuttal there was no physical aggression at any time on the part of Alex. What’s up? Someone was after getting to Alex before the Civil Service got involved in pursuing long dead unproven allegations.

Note: Ruddick went on to report a common assault against her by Alex, to the police in August 2018 (10 years after the alleged incident). The police investigated but said there was insufficient corroborative evidence to charge, however, the circumstances were included in a later report to the Crown Office and Procurator fiscal. But they all count!!!! when the time is right!!!!!!!!

31 October 2017: David Clegg of the Daily Record telephoned Scottish Government contacts “acting on a tip-off” asking questions of Scottish Government contacts seeking to ascertain if any complaints about harassment had been made about Alex Salmond during his tenure as First Minister. The responses were negative.

Comment: How could be that David Clegg and the Daily Record knew something about complaints on 31 October 2017 when, the official briefing was that no-one in the Scottish Government, up to and including Nicola Sturgeon, had any idea about them at that time.

02 November 2017: An email headed, “Sexual harassment – message from the Permanent Secretary” was distributed to all Scottish Government staff. It gave no mention of former Ministers or historic complaints. Indeed, the message guided respondents “to share concerns about current cultures or behaviours” and where appropriate to speak to Russell, a senior civil servant employed outside the Human Resources Department, that had been tasked by Evans to provide a confidential “Employer Counselling and Wellbeing” support service. (EAP).

03 November 2017: Letter from Sir Jeremy Heywood to Evans. ” Civil Service Response to misconduct or misbehaviour.” Copied to Richards and Mackinnon, “He asks that we should be satisfied that info on conduct and on how to raise a concern is clear and easily accessible for all staff and channels for raising a concern are well publicised and easy to use, and that staff feel positively encourages to speak up; and? processes for investigating concerns and, where relevant, taking follow up action, are working well and ensure timely resolution.”

02 Nov 2017: Mark Macdonald, MSP and Government Minister, was invited to attend a meeting with John Swinney and Liz Lloyd, to be informed that there had been “chatter” among Party members about him in relation to the “MeToo” movement.

03 Nov 2017: Lloyd convened a second meeting with Mark and briefed him about a sexual harassment complaint that had been lodged against him by an SNP Party member. She advised him that his position as a minister of the government was no longer tolerable and he would need to resign.

04 November 2017: Sturgeon telephoned Mark in the afternoon and told him he would be expected to resign from the Government that evening, which he did.

07 November 2017: In a strange turn of events Sturgeon dismissed the notion that Mark should resign from Holyrood claiming that “Some may well have thought it was not serious enough to resign for.”

Comment: Mark’s resignation would have cleared the way for Alex to return to frontline politics since at that time his political standing was untarnished. Sturgeon needed to keep Mark in post until the “Get Salmond” strategy was in place.

16 November 2017: Mark was suspended by the SNP after a second complainer came forward. Both events were investigated and decided on by the SNP executive without reference to the Scottish Government. By then the “dogs of war” had been released on an unsuspecting Alex.

Comment: Murrell in a statement to the Holyrood Inquiry stated that Party policy dictated the handling of complaints within the Party was the responsibility of the Party Executive and it did not share case details with any other organisation unless the complaint highlighted a “clear act of criminality”, and at no time in the Autumn of 2017 did the Party inform any Scottish Government civil servant or special advisor of a complaint by a Party member against a minister of the Government. His assertion doesn’t fit the conduct of Lloyd who contravened the ministerial code applicable to Special Advisors. She should have been dismissed.

04 November 2017: Lloyd’s statement to the Holyrood Inquiry:

I was made aware on the evening of Saturday 4th November 2017 by a member of staff in an SNP parliamentary media
office that they had received a query in relation to Mr Salmond and Edinburgh airport.

They called to alert me to the possibility of such a story running, in case any ministers were on Sunday morning media. I informed the First Minister of the query and that I understood that Mr Salmond would not be responding that evening.

On Monday 06 November 2017 I was approached by several civil servants within the Scottish Government who raised concerns that Mr Salmond and representatives of Mr Salmond were reportedly contacting other civil servants directly to ask that they provide supportive statements in relation to the matters raised by Sky News to his legal representatives.

The civil servants indicated that those being approached were finding this contact unwelcome.

I was asked if I or other Special Advisers could ask Mr Salmond to go through appropriate channels rather than approach people direct, however I was informed shortly after receiving this request that the Permanent Secretary’s office had also been approached by staff and were taking their request forward, so made no approach to Mr Salmond. See here:

06 November 2017: Evans shares her thoughts

05 and 06 November 2017: Media announcement of the Alex Salmond Show to be broadcast weekly on Russia Today (RT) starting 10 November 2017

This was how Alex announced his return to political journalism after losing his Buchan seat at Westminster in June 2017. And following an enforced 6 month sabbatical brought about by his “blackballing” by the unionist controlled media who denied him a the opportunity to carve out a new career in political journalism away from frontline politics.

Sturgeon surprisingly joined Unionist politicians in the public criticism of Alex choice of broadcaster but neglected to acknowledge that every other option for employment had been denied him.

Sky News joined the attacks on Alex and launched a “Get Salmond” operation utilizing its over used methodology of immersing its journalists and those to be abused in gutter politics.

05 November 2017: Sturgeon took the bait when at 08.50 hours, she messaged Alex saying: “Hi – when you free to speak this morning?” They spoke. Sturgeon briefed Alex about the query from Sky News “about allegations of sexual misconduct at Edinburgh Airport on the part of Alex Salmond”. He denied the allegations. Sky news did not run a story.

06 November 2017: Evans informed Sturgeon of telephone contact between Alex and unnamed Scottish Government members of staff. She said he wanted to talk to them about an incident at Edinburgh Airport incident that Sky News were investigating, She had been told by two different sources, that they had received this contact and they were a bit bewildered and unhappy about it. She didn’t know what was said, she didn’t ask, she didn’t think it was appropriate to know.”

09 November 2017: Sturgeon contacted Alex to comment on his decision to host a weekly political discussion programme on RT. The content of her message was redacted – as was the reply from Alex.

In a previous submission to the inquiry, Ms Sturgeon said the Sky News episode had given her a “lingering concern” that allegations about Mr Salmond could surface.

The query from Sky News was raised previously during an MSPs’ investigation of the Scottish Government’s botched handling of harassment claims made against Mr Salmond.

Sturgeon messaged Alex to arrange a discussion about the Sky News Edinburgh Airport query.

07 November 2017: Hynd, Richards and MacKinnon exchange opinions on how to deal with harassment complaints against former Ministers. McKinnon tabled a “routemap” of a policy which suggested application to former Ministers. Hynd not happy advised seek legal opinion. The team are clearly in the early stages of introducing procedures against former Ministers.

08 November 2017: Hynd delivered a first draft procedure applying only to Former Ministers. Referring to his work and that of MacKinnon he said that “neither of the pathways involving Ministers look right”.

07 November 2017: Allison & Ms B

Allison informed the Holyrood Inquiry she had received a telephone call in the course of which Ms B, made allegations against Alex.

Ms B said she was responding to a 2 November 2017 email headed, “Sexual harassment – message from the Permanent Secretary” which had been distributed to all Scottish Government staff.

Following the conversation Allison telephoned Evans office and arranged a telephone conference so that she could advise the Evans of the details of the allegations.

That the first contact was made to Allison remains a mystery given she was the Director of Communications, Ministerial Support and Facilities having given up her position in human resources some time before.

09 November 2017: Allison briefed Evans who judged that whilst the information provided by Ms B was of concern no further action was needed since a formal complaint had not yet been made.

09 November 2017: If Evans failed to brief Sturgeon she would have been in breach of the “Ministerial Code” and it is not something a Civil Servant in her last few years of employment would do. Jeopardise her pension!!! No way!!! Evans briefed Sturgeon.

09 November 2017: Evans convened an urgent meeting with and discussed the allegations with Allison then met separately with Richards.

An email from Evans private secretary was circulated that evening appraising recipients of the content and outcomes of the earlier meeting and the actions that were to follow from it.

One action was: “Evans would like to have calls/conversation’s tomorrow with: Allison, Russell and Richards.

In her evidence to the inquiry, Allison summarised how, after that initial phone call, she then continued to be involved with Ms B and her “concerns”: I had early contact with Miss B. That contact was a series of texts. I also had, I think, three telephone calls with her, but no meetings. No record was ever taken of any of her concerns.”

All but one of these contacts were in the period 08 November to 29 November 2017. Throughout that period Allison was Director of Communications for the Scottish Government, in addition to whatever responsibilities she had for Ministerial Support and Facilities, and given that a plethora of much more qualified support was already in place for someone in Ms B’s position, with even more about to be added, one might legitimately wonder how this came about.

10 November 2017: Evans called Russell and Allison separately and assigned appointments, roles and responsibilities to each of them and advised Richards of the details.

Russell’s revised role was:

“To provide a further choice for staff as a confidante and sounding board (in addition to established mechanisms such as HR / TUs / EAP etc) to help them consider options. Staff wishing to take things forward should be passed to Mackinnon.”

Its boundaries were unambiguous:

“To keep this manageable the focus is on those who have had experiences of sexual harassment.”

And the line of communication of “issues” through HR to Evans was clearly defined:

“It would be helpful if you could give regular updates to Richards/ MacKinnon if issues are raised with – anonymised if that is the person’s wish. They will then provide Evans with updates as required.”

Afternote: There was a flurry of email exchanges around these dates. Well worth a read:

Barbara Allison’s new role?

At 12.40 hours: Evans private secretary updated the earlier Richards note which related to what was being asked of Allison with a warning added in blue highlight. “Bear in mind this may become public.” Evans evidently thought “pastoral care.” aptly described her duties”.

Allison later told the Holyrood Inquiry that pastoral care was in place in case anyone wanted to say, “I am concerned that things are coming out. This feels tough, so where can I go for support?’ Trade unions, the welfare officer and the employee assistance programme and so on might be advised.”

But Allison’s real role was to cocoon Ms B and her “concerns” about Alex until hastily prepared unique procedures for investigating and deciding on historical harassment complaints was in place. She admitted to this when she told the Inquiry that: “I felt at times I was trying to hold a space open for her.”

The pastoral care of Ms B

13 November 2017: Evans sent a message to all staff headed: “Sexual harassment at work Permanent Secretary update” intimating the important new roles of Russell and Allison.

A comparison of the two intimations is highly instructive.

The Russell reference was clear providing her contact details and a description of her role as a “confidential sounding board for those who have experienced sexual harassment.” but with an added rider “current or in the past”.

The Allison reference was starved of description saying: “I am aware that some staff have been contacted by the media. It is standard practice to redirect journalists to submit requests through the news desk. If you have concerns please contact Barbara Allison”. That’s it!!!! No mention of “pastoral care”.

And Russell was just as much in the dark on the matter. She told the Holyrood Inquiry: “To be honest, at the time, in November 2017 as the documentation will demonstrate, I was not aware of Allison having that role of pastoral care. I was only aware of the role that the permanent secretary asked me to do.”

And she was not alone in that respect given that Russell, in common with almost all of her Scottish Government colleagues, had no idea of the top secret role Allison was performing for Evans:

13 November 2017: Allison copied Evans office staff a message she had sent to Ms B containing Russell’s contact details and her role. She then told Russell that someone might be in touch with her, but provided no details.

Russell’s evidence to the Holyrood Inquiry is enlightening. She advised: “After I took on the role on 13 November 2017 there was an engagement with Barbara Allison, in which she advised me that somebody might want to come and speak to me.

I advised Barbara that the text number for that purpose had been made available to staff and that, if anyone wanted to contact me, I would obviously be happy to see what I could do to support them, as had been set out in the note…. She said that she had been approached by somebody who wanted to speak. That was all I knew.”

Russell was not contacted by Ms B. The entire process from “concerns” to formal complaint to ultimate decision, was handled exclusively by Evans through Allison, Richards and Mackinnon.

Indeed, even as late at the time she gave evidence to the Holyrood Inquiry Russell she still assumed “wrongly” that the “somebody” Allison had been referring to on 13 November 2017 was Ms A.

A revelation that prompted a need for the Inquiry to ask Allison to write to them on 9 December 2020 to correct the misunderstanding, and point out that the “somebody” was actually Ms B.

About Allison: Her appearance before the Holyrood Inquiry was a masterclass in the art of subterfuge. Uninformed observers were underwhelmed with the evidence of the well presented elderly lady who was clearly nearing the end of a long and distinguished career. Her contribution to events was minor and ended soon after she passed Ms B on to MacKinnon. But the truth is that Allison possessed presentation skills finely honed over many years. and she was able to disguise the level and influence of her input. She was in fact the lead officer of the Scottish Civil Service LBGTQ movement charged with the rapid implementation of the policies of the now discredited Stonewall organisation.

See: “”

13 November 2017: Cabinet Secretary James Hynd wrote to senior civil servants about sexual harassment allegations against current Ministers:

“We would need to alert Sturgeon to the fact that a complaint had been received against one of her Ministers and to take her mind about how she wished it to be handled.”

15 November 2017: Hynd wrote a second email, this time to Evans private secretaries, commenting on a suggestion that complaints against Ministers might be resolved by informal means without the need for Sturgeon to be involved: “I am not at all sure that this … will be acceptable to Sturgeon either generally or in the specific context of sexual harassment. Especially for the latter I think she will want to know straightaway if a complaint against a Minister has been received and will want to decide how it should be treated.”

There is, then, no ambiguity cancelling out the slightest plausible argument that Evans or any of her fellow civil servants could possibly have thought that it was acceptable for them to keep Sturgeon in the dark about any allegation of sexual harassment against any of her current Ministers.

Why then would any of them think it would be acceptable not to inform Sturgeon of allegations against her mentor and closest friend of thirty years? Just doesn’t add up !!!!

16 November 2017: James Hynd- Head of Cabinet, Parliament and Governance Division, emailed (Private Secretary 1 to Evans). (Policy on Complaints Against Ministers.)” As requested”. James.

Afternote: In his statement to the Holyrood Inquiry Hynd said he had been charged with developing a new complaints procedure policy by the Cabinet on 31 October 2017. and “for the avoidance of doubt” Sturgeon was keen that the new policy should be overhauled to include former ministers.

Comment: But Hynd later responded to Mackinnon talking about the “route map” she had sent him following her meeting with Evans asking if the pathway concerning former ministers was informed by legal advice. Evidently Hynd was not the person who raised the “former ministers” aspect of the new procedures

16 November 2017: A copy of the draft policy was forwarded to the UK Government’s Cabinet Office in Westminster for approval.

17 November 2017: 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.”

17 November 2017: 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 much 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 hypocrisy of the intent behind the proposed changes and rightly blocked the proposals.

17 November 2017: Hynd forwarded the Cabinet Office response to Sturgeon’s Principle Private Secretary (PPS), John 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?”. See:

Afternote 1: Questioned by the Holyrood Inquiry Hynd said: “Sturgeon was keen to take national leadership on the matter and delaying implementation of the new procedure was not an option for consideration.”

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

Afternote 2: Lloyd in her written statement to the Holyrood Inquiry said 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 Sturgeon’s responsibility.

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

17 November 2017: Opportune to introduce Liz Lloyd here. She was prevented from physically appearing before the Holyrood Inquiry preferring to submit a written statement detailing her involvement before, during and after the investigation of the allegations against Alex.

Selected brief extracts from her statement:

The inclusion of current ministers in the draft policy shared with me on the 17th November 2017 created an interaction with the ministerial code for which the First Minister is responsible. This was brought to my attention by a private secretary and we agreed that we should discuss the appropriate allocation of roles and responsibilities between a Permanent Secretary and a First Minister. Given the interaction with the ministerial code, we also agreed that a note should be put forward that could be sent from the First Minister to the Permanent Secretary to provide clarity that consideration of a policy relating to ministers and former ministers was within the scope of the original cabinet commission. Document Phase1FN23/XX013 is an email exchange showing the arrangements for the meeting at which this was discussed, a copy of the draft policy being provided to me on the 17th November 2017 and the first draft of the note referenced above being put forward to me by a private secretary. The copy of the draft policy contained in that email exchange was the first draft I had sight of. The initial draft note, contained in the email sent to me at 11.28 includes reference to the “conduct of current or former ministers”.

In the discussion on the 17th November 2017 I was briefed on the proposed policy and the issues that needed resolved regarding the appropriate allocation of responsibilities in relation to a First Minister and a Permanent Secretary, particularly in relation to current ministers. This was then discussed at a meeting on the 24th November 2017 to which myself, James Hynd, a member of the Permanent Secretary’s office and a member of the First Minister’s office were invited.
I can confirm that the account of the meeting on the 24th November 2017 given to the committee by Mr Hynd on 25th August 2020 matches my recollection. I believe a meeting had originally been scheduled for the 21st November 2017, but Mr Hynd had not been invited and I do not believe that the meeting took place.

As set out by Mr Hynd my view in that meeting was that to enhance the independence of the policy no First Minister should be able to prevent a Permanent Secretary investigating a sexual harassment complaint made by one of their employees against a minister, if the Permanent Secretary judged there was something to investigate. This was because a Permanent Secretary has a duty of care to civil servants and I expected that to be the position the First Minister would think was appropriate. It was also my view that it would be essential that a First Minister is made aware of an investigation
or allegation into a serving minister, in order to determine if, under the ministerial code, that minister could remain in post whilst an investigation was conducted. The only other involvement I recall is a conversation with members of the SG
communications team, prior to publication of the policy, where they informed me of the lines that would be deployed if the Scottish Government was ever asked if a complaint had been received.

For clarity given the committee has requested information in relation to communications with the SNP, I can confirm I did not discuss the procedure or share a copy of it with the SNP. I hold no documents on the development of the procedure.
I am aware that the committee has asked Mr Hynd, Ms Richards and the Permanent Secretary whether they had knowledge at this point of the complaints that came to be investigated under the procedure. I can confirm that I had no knowledge at this point of the incidents that were investigated under the procedure, and was not informed that two such individuals had raised concerns or made complaints. Full statement below:

17 November 2017: Somers and Evans exchange notes of progress with Liz Lloyd.

20 November 2017: Somers, Principal Private Secretary, to Sturgeon met with Ms A, at her request, in the First Minster’s office. She told him the purpose of a meeting with Sturgeon was to relate to her information that she thought would improve the organization. She stressed she was not making a complaint, she simply wanted to assess with Sturgeon her options on how she could best share the information.

Ms A was denied access to Sturgeon by Somers and was instead subjected to intense pressure from senior civil service managers and other senior political and legal persons to register a complaint against Alex with an assurance that it would be resolved to her satisfaction through use of “newly drafted” all-encompassing procedures, which she would have a hand in compiling. In this regard she placed her trust in and was used by the Scottish government as a sacrificial lamb in a political vendetta against Alex.

Afternote: Somers (gatekeeper to Sturgeon) told the Holyrood Inquiry that he had not briefed Sturgeon about his meeting with Ms A or her request for a private meeting with the her upholding his commitment to her to keep the details of their conversation secret. He said: “I wouldn’t tell Sturgeon because it wasn’t my experience to share. That was my first priority. Secondly, had I done that, I would have put Sturgeon in a state of knowledge about something she couldn’t have taken action upon at that point.” Somers went on to state he was “overwhelmed” by Ms A’s disclosure and with her permission he advised his Line Manager Allison, and the Director of Safer Communities, Russell.

Comment: Somers escalated matters against the wishes of Ms A. In doing so he failed in his duties as gatekeeper to Sturgeon.

20 November 2017: 30 page pdf providing details of Evans November 2017, diary dates. Noteworthy: 20 minute weekly meeting with Liz Lloyd and day trip to London for a meeting with the UK Goverment Cabinet Secretary

21 November 2017: 1730-1800: Lloyd, Somers and Cameron meet

21 November 2017: Somers and two unnamed officers met with Ms A and advised she would need to further discuss the matter with his line manager 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 Sturgeon.

Somers 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 at that point?”

22 November 2017: Gillian Russell, a senior civil servant appointed by the Permanent Secretary to act as a “confidential sounding board” for staff raising harassment concerns told the Holyrood Inquiry that Ms A had raised “a series of very significant issues” with her.

Her judgement was that the allegations were potentially criminal and she passed on a telephone number so that the complainer could contact the police. She did not refer the conversation to any other person believing that there might be a police investigation and it would not be appropriate for her to be involved.

Afternote 1: Somers decision not to inform the First Minister denied Ms A the informal meeting she had asked for and escalated events from informal to formal. His reasoning was flawed since it was based on a rebuttable assumption. His choice of words is also significant. “at that point” would be a reference to the draft policy which he was working on with Lloyd. He fine well knew what he was doing.

Afternote 2: 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 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 3: Allison 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”.

She went on to tell the inquiry that she was first notified of concerns in November 2017 when two unnamed female civil servants, (Ms A and Ms B) raised them with her.

It is for readers to question whether it is “plausible” that Sturgeon did not know until 2 April 2018, about the internal probe into her predecessor, (some 5 months after allegations were first raised about Alex Salmond.). If she did know she misled the public in her evidence to the inquiry

22 November 2017: Sturgeon’s “instruction” sent 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.”

Comment 1: 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 James Hynd, the person who wrote the new procedure told the Holyrood Inquiry he had already included the retrospective aspect into the procedure.

Comment 2: Evans is the head of the Scottish Civil Service and Sturgeon is not gifted with the authority to order Evans to abandon official civil service investigation procedures. When instructed, by Sturgeon to introduce an unlawful, unfair and tainted with apparent bias process she was not obliged to do so. There were options. Evans was fully entitled to warn Sturgeon of the difficulties presenting and advise her that she would not comply. If Sturgeon insisted on pressing on Evans had the right to notify the Cabinet Secretary in London of her reticence.

Comment 3: What we have seen so far is that the parties involved, including Evans and senior HR personnel, were all actively involved in this whole disgraceful situation together. They were running a corrupt investigation process. They were all willing to be part of the game. And there was the email from Evans making the bold claim, “We lost the battle but we can still win the war.”

Comment 4: Sturgeon survived because the Holyrood Inquiry chose to ignore the damming evidence presented to it. In doing so it betrayed the principles of justice. Interesting that contrary to good practice Evans destroyed her notebooks at the year end.

Bloggers comment: Alarm bells should have been ringing in Whitehall from at least 17th November 2017 when an unidentified person in the UK Cabinet Office emailed Hynd to say they “felt very uncomfortable to be highlighting a process for complaints about Ministers and former ministers”. How did the UK Cabinet Office know the process was taking place, who contacted them first and when.

17 November 2017 is only three days before Somers’ first meeting with Mrs A, and nine days before, in line with Sturgeon’s letter of the 22 November 2017, the policy changed to be extended to former ministers.

The Public is expected to believe the UK cabinet office, who were uncomfortable with it permitted civil servants in Scotland, against their advice to introduce an unworkable and illegal Procedure.

What is also disturbing is the level of intervention and control of civil servants over all aspects of the process of developing the new procedure.

And no one questioned the motives of the new procedure or why the procedure needed to be extended to include former ministers that were no longer employees of the government and therefore not covered by the ministerial code.

The email from the UK cabinet of 17 November 2017 should have prompted that question daily until a satisfactory answer was provided.

And no one enquired about what prompted Mrs A and Mrs B to contact a civil service manager to resurrect something that had allegedly happened four years before when Alex Salmond had left politics and when extending the policy to former ministers made the UK cabinet “very uncomfortable”.

And why did the permanent Secretary of the UK Cabinet Office, Sir Jeremy Heywood, with a track record of intervention in policy matters pertaining to the civil service look the other way and permit inexperienced civil servants to develop and introduce a flawed policy.

24 November 2017: A fifth draft of Hynd’s, policy delegated authority to Evans to order an investigation into complaints but made clear Sturgeon should be alerted. A copy was also sent to Sturgeon. He also advised that any inquiry into retrospective complaints against former Ministers should be conducted by 3 senior civil servants independent of Sturgeon and Evans.

24 November 2017: The lawyers get their nibs in with comments to Hynd

23 November 2017: 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).

23 – 28 November 2017: Cluster of emails between Richards, MacKinnon, Allison and Russell discussing their approach to the 2 complainants included meeting with and sharing the content of the draft policy procedures.

23 November 2017: Gillian Russell. The soundboard officer getting a wee bit hot under the collar. Instructions unclear

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 November 2017: 1315-1400: Lloyd, Somers, Hynd and a member of the Evans office, attended a meeting to further discuss the content of the “instruction from Sturgeon” and to establish and agree clear lines of responsibility between Sturgeon and Evans.

A second purpose was to reword the second draft procedure inserting changes designed to prevent Sturgeon from stopping Evans, who had a duty of care to civil servants, from investigating a sexual harassment complaint made by a civil servant against a minister if Evans judged there was something to investigate.

Additional input from Lloyd included the view that it was essential that Sturgeon 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.

24 November 2017: The input of Lloyd to the process was understated by Evans. They couldn’t fart without her permission!!!!

27-29 November 2017: More Hynd driven email correspondence

27 November 2017: Hynd to Richards. Have looksee at the next draft procedure. All hands to the deck!!! Why so much urgency over one man??

29 November 2017: 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 Sturgeon.

29 November 2017: Richards, met with Evans, who then went on to have a “summit meeting with Sturgeon, “to discuss the development” of a new harassment procedure against former ministers. More here:

Comment: Evans, in late December 2018, in her evidence to the Judicial Review Court said she remembered the meeting but had destroyed any notes she might have made at the time. She told the court that she routinely destroyed her notebooks when they were full.

A senior Government spokeswoman later defended Evans actions saying “in the normal course of government business not all conversations and meetings are minuted. Officials may take notes only where decisions or commissions arise and they are recorded for action or the official record – there were no such decisions or commissions in this case and there is therefore no record of this meeting.”

Alex’s Counsel remarked “The destruction of evidence means we may never know what Nicola Sturgeon knew and when.” But what we do know is that a few days after the meeting Sturgeon was written out of the draft complaints process until “the outcome” of any investigation – compared to previous drafts which said she should be informed of claims straight away.

30 November 2017: 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 Evans that I would test against some key individuals?”

01 December 2017: Hynd sent the “eighth” harassment policy draft to Richards. Note the not so subtle change in the procedure to fit the Ms B complaint against Alex.

04/05 December 2017: Richards, redrafted parts of the “eighth” draft procedure completing her work 2334 hours on the evening of 5 Dec. She then forwarded it as the “Ninth” draft, 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.”

Comment: There was evidently some urgency in moving the matter forward to a conclusion, confirmed in yet another email 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 Servant team, supported by legal opinion were confident it would be signed off and introduced as policy.

The recast of the procedure on 5 December 2017

In all eight previous drafts of the complaints procedure up to 5 December 2017, the First Minister had a central role. She was to be informed as soon as a formal complaint against a former Minister was made. She was to take any steps necessary to ensure the former Minister cooperated with the investigation. She was to be informed when the investigation of the complaint was completed, and any further action on the complaint was hers to consider and take.

In the ninth draft, sent out by Richards at close to midnight on 5 December 2017, all of this was suddenly gone. The First Minister now had no role at all. The Permanent Secretary would now decide whether a complaint against a former Minister was well-founded, and the Permanent Secretary would determine what further action was to be taken on it.

On 6 December 2017, Richards sent this “Ninth” draft to Evans, already calling it the “final version” of the procedure. She was right. This version was essentially what was approved by the First Minister on 20 December 2017, and was the procedure used against Alex Salmond.

Comment: Evans was closely involved in the drafting process at the time and reviewed it again at least twice for the Judicial Review and again for the Holyrood Inquiry but if the answers to any of the following questions are beyond her they can be easily asked and answered by Richards, Mackinnon, Hynd or any of the others who were also involved.

Why, after 05 December 2017, was the First Minister no longer to be informed of formal complaints against former Ministers?

Why was the First Minister no longer required to seek to secure the cooperation of the former Minister with the investigation of complaints?

Why was the First Minister no longer to decide on the merits of complaints and further action to be taken?

Why was that role now taken over entirely by the Permanent Secretary?

Given that every previous draft of the procedure had emphasised the very different roles of the First Minister and Permanent Secretary in the complaints procedure, and the need for both roles to feature in the process to ensure fairness to all concerned, how could a “final version” with a role only for the Permanent Secretary possibly be fair?

Was the “final version” influenced in any way by the sharing of the draft procedure with Ms A by Richards and Mackinnon on 05 December 2017, and if so, how?

All of these questions are relevant but they were never asked so we’ll never know!!!!!!

06 December 2017: Richards, met with Ms B and shared with her the content of the “Ninth” draft procedure.

Afternote: In her statement to the Holyrood Inquiry Richards said she shared the “Ninth” draft policy with Ms B in part so she could make an “informed decision” about whether to make a formal complaint.

She went on to say ” the reasons why we shared that, we were trying to establish, in terms of our learning as an organisation, whether this would have made any difference to them at the time, would it have made it more possible to raise issues about a first minister or former first minister?

It was done so that if they decided to proceed to formal complaint, they had an awareness of the policy likely to be applied.”

She followed up by saying “As well as sending Ms B the draft policy I had a hard copy of it when I spoke to another woman but she did not come forward with a complaint”.

Answering a question about an email she sent to another possible complainer, (copied to the investigating officer, MacKinnon) in which she suggested to her that she should wait until the New Year before making a complaint she said: “I think I was going on holiday the next day”.

But she lied: The woman sent the hard copy procedure was being fished to register a complaint and she subsequently did.

06 December 2017: 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.

06 December 2017: At 0528 hours 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.”

06 December 2017: In written evidence submitted to the Holyrood Inquiry, Deputy Chief Constable Fiona Taylor said that Police Scotland had been consulted on legal content and procedures appropriate for inclusion at the time a new complaints policy that included current and former ministers was in the process of being finalised.

The Police advised that: “where criminality was suspected, individuals should be directed to support and advocacy services, to enable them to make informed decisions about whether or not to report matters to the police”.

Police Scotland strongly advised the Scottish Government against launching investigations into potentially criminal allegations of harassment, warning civil service staff were not trained to investigate or “engage with victims”.

The Government persisted with their enquires between December 2017 and August 2018 raising: “a number of hypothetical questions” suggesting more than one victim of potential criminality and a specific set of circumstances and it was stressed that without knowledge of the detail any risk that a suspect might present could not be properly assessed or mitigated.

Early January 2018: There was an exchange of emails instigated by Mackinnon between herself and the police.

MacKinnon: “Wonder if you can help – hypothetically speaking of course.

“If, after an internal investigation, the Scottish Government becomes aware that a member of staff has been the subject of a potential criminal act, can you advise if there is a difference depending on whether the employee reports the issue to the police themselves or the Scottish Government reports it on behalf of the employee…”

Police response: “It makes no difference who reports it to police. The employee would be the victim and the Scottish Government would be the witness. I hope this helps but slightly concerned regarding the level of discussion which is clearly ongoing at your end but I guess that will be for Scottish Government to manage and navigate.”

MacKinnon replied: “Can I check one more thing with you? Who makes the decision to press charges? If the complainers, victims, didn’t want to could the Scottish Government decide they wanted to press charges? Or is it down to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal ?”

Police response: “I would be able to attend and provide advice directly to the victims regarding the full process, should they decide to report, however, I can’t give the victims hypothetical advice.”

McKinnon sent another flurry of emails to police the next day saying she had questions on behalf of the potential victims.

The police replied: “Providing an email response to any queries the victim(s) have is not how I would conduct this.”

MacKinnon replied: “I realise I am being very cloak and dagger about this, but we feel that, for the moment, if we can provide some written responses that would be most helpful at this stage. Your offer of face to face contact I am sure, if we go down the route of reporting, will be welcomed, but at the moment the final outcome of the investigation has not been found and the decision for next steps also cannot be made.”

The email correspondence indicates the police officer sought advice from a superior officer over concerns a face-to-face meeting with victims was being blocked.

The officer replied: “I have sought advice from Detective Sergeant (redacted) as this is not how Police Scotland would ordinarily interact with victims and warned her over “the levels of discussions taking place”

The email flurry ended with MacKinnon informing the police she was going on annual leave and they should contact Richards, her boss. The email exchanges were not provided to the Holyrood Inquiry who carried out an investigation into the governments handling of the case. But the Inquiry heard evidence from both civil servants who said police involvement had not been the “intention” of the complainants initially.

Murdo Fraser MSP, who was on the inquiry, commented: “This information reveals another glaring flaw in the government’s disastrous handling of sexual harassment complaints against Alex Salmond. Despite all the grave mistakes made during the whole sordid affair, not one person has been sacked. Nobody has accepted responsibility. Nobody has been held accountable.”

Sources close to Alex Salmond said: “These are extraordinary revelations about a cloak and dagger operation being mounted by the Scottish Government. The emails add to the already huge ammunition in Alex Salmond’s legal case against the Scottish Government. since they indicate there was a secret operation suggesting extreme prejudice against Alex Salmond and substantial malice on behalf of Scottish Government officials.”


In her evidence to the Holyrood Inquiry Evans said: “We took advice from Police Scotland because we wanted to ensure that the procedure was appropriate and sympathetic, and that it was effective in terms of encouraging people to use it.

The police’s view, which we adhered to and which is reflected in the procedure, is that the process must be led by the victim – by the people who are bringing concerns or complaints. If they wish to go to the police, they are at liberty to do so at every stage in the operation.

However, as our investigation… reached its conclusion, the Scottish Government (Evans) informed by legal advice (that would be her unreported meeting with the Lord Advocate, on 22 August 2018) decided that three of the complaints would not be passed on to appropriate support services as a first option, but would be be referred to Police Scotland without informing the complainants.”

06 December 2017: Major changes to the procedure. Input of Mackinnon worrying given her track record with the Police on similar issues. A disaster waiting to happen here. See:

Afternote 1: 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, faced with 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 2: 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.

05 December 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 Sturgeon 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 guvnor !

The foregoing reveals the duplicity of the Scottish Government’s assertions that it was only interested in the welfare of Ms A. If she was a civil servant then the actions taken may have been appropriate, but inexcusably inappropriate if she was a “Special Adviser”. Her line manager was Sturgeon!!!

06 December 2017: Richards and MacKinnon start to wind up the writing of the many drafts. All to get at one man. Noteworthy the main procedure re; complaints is almost untouched. More here:

12 December 2017: Sturgeon’s “Get Salmond” team of civil servants was provided with guidance documentation from the UK Cabinet Secretary’s office so that they would be assured their new procedure for investigating retrospective allegations of harassment against former Ministers would incorporate best practice and be legally sound. They ignored all of it believing they knew better. The consequences of their actions nearly destroyed the career of Scotland’s finest politician.

This information was gleaned from Evans statement to the Holyrood Inquiry on 18 August 2020

Evans said she had been commissioned to review harassment procedures by Scottish ministers, as well as the UK Government Cabinet Secretary and Head of the UK Civil Service.

Having considered the relevant policies she concluded that: “There was no published process for handling complaints about current or former Ministers in the UK Government and she decided that her civil servants would develop a complaints procedure covering former and current Ministers.

The process of developing the procedure would be guided by professional drafting processes informed by legal advice and HR best practice.This would ensure the Scottish Government would be ahead of many other institutions in the design and implementation of a novel new procedure which would openly and transparently address historical allegations of sexual misconduct.

Comment: The Scottish Goverment emphasised to the Holyrood Inquiry the significance of the professional guidance produced by the UK Government Civil Service Employee Policy team (CSEP), a high-powered unit located in the UK Cabinet Office whose specific job it is to provide authoritative HR advice to the whole of the UK civil service.

Civil service officials tasked with the duty of compiling the novel new procedures received a draft copy of “Guidance on Handling of Historic Allegations of Harassment” developed by the UK Government Civil Service Policy team (CSEP) on 17 November 2017 and a later copy with Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) added on 12 December 2017, before the new procedure had been fully developed.

The advice contained in the guidance documentation was comprehensive in its coverage and stressed that the management of: “complex and sensitive cases of historical allegations, in every case, should be handled by an impartial investigator who had no prior knowledge of the complainer or any details of the case.

It stated that an investigator should also be formally trained and experienced in the handling of complaints and cases involving very senior managers should be referred to an independent external body for investigation.

The “FAQ” supplement was provided to Richards as an email attachment on 12 December 2017 and sent on by her to Mackinnon and others that same day under subject heading “Guidance on handling allegation of harassment FAQ”.

That they read the document thoroughly is witnessed by the significance it is given in the Scottish Government’s statement to the inquiry.

So in the context of the procedure for handling harassment complaints which Richards and Mackinnon were at the very heart of developing at exactly the time the guidance was received it is simply inconceivable that they did not read and understand the most important sentence in FAQ, Answer 23: “ no prior knowledge of the complainer or any details of the case”. That Evans, MacKinnon and Richards ignored the (CSEP) advice cost the Scottish taxpayer £500,000. Evans should have been sacked for gross icompetence and her colleagues should have been demoted and given a first and final written warning.

14 December 2017 08:41: Richards to Hynd, MacKinnon, Allison and Evans Private Secretary. RE: Official sensitive – 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 Sturgeon. I think I would just share the part about current ministers because that is what would form part of our revised F@W policy.

I think the former ministers process is more for us to know what we would do rather than to have out there as a published policy. Although we would share it if asked.

I’ve copied in Allison and MacKinnon because I’ll be on leave from close today. It would be good to get this tied up quickly. Allison – In preparation for sharing this with the unions could you abstract the current ministers part? cheers Nicky.

14 December 2017 1043: Hynd to Richards, Mackinnon and Allison: RE: Official sensitive – policy on complaints against Ministers: Nicky 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 Sturgeon and on which she commented

14 December 2017 1120: From: To Hynd, Richards, Mackinnon and Allison. RE: Official sensitive – 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. He is kindly making those adjustments and will circulate final version shortly.

Allison, you may wish to hold off your prep for version for Unions in meantime. In terms of timing to Sturgeon we will put to her once have the green light from Nicky? If we want to appraise Evans of timings and sharing with Unions, she is tied up in interviews today till 15:00 and then on leave till Tuesday – but contactable.

14 December 2017 1132: Hynd to Richards, Mackinnon, Allison. RE: Official sensitive – policy on complaints against ministers. Here is another “final” version.

18 December 2017: Evans to Sturgeon. You wrote to me on 22 November 2017 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 is set out in the annex.

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 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.

19 December 2017: Richards emailed Ms A who was concerned about contact with Alex and other matters relating to the next step. Bundle also includes copies of the new procedures.

20 December 2017: Sturgeon approved the introduction of the procedure. The exchange of emails is here:

November 2017: In her evidence to the Holyrood inquiry Sturgeon claimed she instructed Evans to add retrospective investigation of complaints against Government Ministers to existing procedures in late 2017 having been in receipt of a briefing about a Sky News enquiry on the Scottish government about an alleged incident involving Alex Salmond at Edinburgh Airport a decade before. Coming in the wake of the MeToo movement, the allegation “lingered” in her mind.

20 December 2017: Richards and the rest of the team are unsure about the support of the Civil Service Trade Union and discuss tactics.

20 December 2017: Team in a quandary over the involvement of the Trade Union.

20 December 2017: Richards reveals her plans to set aside the many times proven successful Fairness at Work policy which has been in place for 10 years.

20 December 2017: The Fairness at Work, of which Evans admitted in her evidence to the Holyrood Inquiry to “not being an expert”, is a carefully considered policy which is still in operation for the civil service and for serving Ministers with regard to bullying complaints. The extraordinary claim made by Evanss in the same evidence session, that it does not cover harassment can only be a result of her admitted lack of familiarity with the policy. In reality it covers this explicitly in paragraph 3.2.1.

And, as recently as December 2017 the Procedure was hailed by the unions in a letter to Evans as “an achievement of which we all should rightly be proud and something that sets up as being more assiduous than our counterparts down south” 

The concept of a civil service investigation into people over which they have no legitimate jurisdiction is nonsensical and the idea of passing the results to the relevant political party for action is self- evidently ludicrous.

If legal action wasn’t taken against the government it would inevitably follow against any political party which attempted to proceed with any form of disciplinary action on such an unlawful basis.

20 December 2017: Draft letter compiled, from Sturgeon to all former Scottish Government Ministers advising that a new retrospective examination of allegations of harassment would be applied from the opening of Holyrood.

No indication of any intention by the Government to conduct a “lookback” trawl of previously investigated and settled claims. But any allegations not previously reported would be considered and investigated.

22 December 2017: A police team met with Scottish Government officials to discuss proposed amendments to the existing harassment and misconduct policies for Government officials currently in employment and to give advice on the proposed “retrospective” follow up of allegations of former Ministers. Their advice was “don’t do it”

Sturgeon’s draft letter to former First Ministers was withdrawn subsequent to the meeting with the police.

Alex Salmond was never provided with a copy of the letter and he was the only former Minister ever subjected to an illegal Civil Service investigation of his conduct whilst in office.

09 January 2018: Note from MacKinnon (revealed during the Holyrood Inquiry), speaks to “changing” the position of a reluctant complainant, the sharing of complaints, and of it “being better to get the policy finalised and approved before formal complaint comes in” and of not telling Alex until we are “ready”. This revelation is completely at odds with the SG pleadings in the Judicial Review and indeed stands in stark contrast with the oral evidence presented to the Committee. Such practices are not just wrong, they are an affront to the principles which underpin workplace and human resources policy across the country. The Holyrood Inquiry made specific reference to the need to comply with ACAS guidance. How the disgraceful conduct could even be contemplated by MacKinnon who is employed in a highly paid role and with a string of HR qualifications remains to be explained.

09 March 2021: Sturgeon subverted the search for truth and justice

Preamble: Allegations that Sturgeon inspired and directed a conspiracy against Alex Salmond surfaced at the beginning of 2018 and have not been resolved because of the intransigence of overly loyal friends within her government who were assisted in their mission of denial by a small cohort of corrupt or incompetent senior civil service managers who attacked and subverted the search for truth. Dogma over substance is their mantra.

In Holyrood, Sturgeon challenged Alex Salmond to produce evidence of conspiracy to the Holyrood Inquiry or shut up. Saying: “Let him make whatever claims he wants to make, say whatever he wants to say, and bring whatever evidence he thinks he has. There was no conspiracy. The evidence she asked for was produced but conveniently for Sturgeon it did not surface until after the Inquiry had produced its report.

Sturgeon attacked reality

Sturgeon responded saying: “any suggestion, any at all, that the decisions were in any way politically influenced are downright wrong. I would suggest they go further than that, that they actually start to buy into what is a false and quite dangerous conspiracy theory that has no basis in fact.”

Early January 2018: There was an exchange of emails instigated by Mackinnon between herself and the police.

The email exchange:

MacKinnon: “Wonder if you can help – hypothetically speaking of course.

“If, after an internal investigation, the Scottish Government becomes aware that a member of staff has been the subject of a potential criminal act, can you advise if there is a difference depending on whether the employee reports the issue to the police themselves or the Scottish Government reports it on behalf of the employee…”

Police response: “It makes no difference who reports it to police. The employee would be the victim and the Scottish Government would be the witness.

“I hope this helps but slightly concerned regarding the level of discussion which is clearly ongoing at your end but I guess that will be for Scottish Government to manage and navigate.”

MacKinnon replied: “Can I check one more thing with you? Who makes the decision to press charges?

“If the complainers/victims didn’t want to – could Scottish Government decide they wanted to press charges?

“Or is it down to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal ?”

Police response: “I would be able to attend and provide advice directly to the victims regarding the full process, should they decide to report, however, I can’t give the victims hypothetical advice.”

McKinnon sent another flurry of emails to police the next day saying she had questions on behalf of the potential victims.

The police replied: “Providing an email response to any queries the victim(s) have is not how I would conduct this.”

MacKinnon replied: “I realise I am being very cloak and dagger about this, but we feel that, for the moment, if we can provide some written responses that would be most helpful at this stage.

“Your offer of face to face contact I am sure, if we go down the route of reporting, will be welcomed, but at the moment the final outcome of the investigation has not been found and the decision for next steps also cannot be made.”

The email correspondence indicates the police officer sought advice from a superior officer over concerns a face-to-face meeting with victims was being blocked.

The officer replied: “I have sought advice from Detective Sergeant (redacted) as this is not how Police Scotland would ordinarily interact with victims and warned her over “the levels of discussions taking place”

The email flurry ended with MacKinnon informing the police she was going on annual leave and they should contact Richards, her boss.

The email exchanges were not provided to the Holyrood Inquiry who carried out an investigation into the governments handling of the case.

But the Inquiry heard evidence from both civil servants who said police involvement had not been the “intention” of the complainants initially.

Murdo Fraser MSP, who was on the inquiry, commented: “This information reveals another glaring flaw in the government’s disastrous handling of sexual harassment complaints against Alex Salmond.

“Despite all the grave mistakes made during the whole sordid affair, not one person has been sacked. Nobody has accepted responsibility. Nobody has been held accountable.”

Sources close to Alex Salmond said: “These are extraordinary revelations about a cloak and dagger operation being mounted by the Scottish Government. The emails add to the already huge ammunition in Alex Salmond’s legal case against the Scottish Government. since they indicate there was a secret operation suggesting extreme prejudice against Alex Salmond and substantial malice on behalf of Scottish Government officials.”

08 January 2018: Mackinnon wrote:

“… have added one comment in the last paragraph (nothing to do with the unions comments) – [Redacted]. We will have to draw James Hynds attention to this as it is a change.”

Mackinnon is referring to paragraph 19 of the approved procedure, one of two paragraphs covering “engagement with the police”. (It may be noted in passing that this reference to changing the procedure long after it was supposedly set in stone on 20 December 2017 is far from unusual in the emails of those involved, a subject considered briefly again below.)

The paragraph is as follows:

“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 becomes apparent that the matter being raised is 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. Should either of these steps be necessary the staff member will be advised and supported throughout.”

In their tracked comments to that paragraph (and probably on the basis that they thought they were entering a dialogue with responsible employers as opposed to taking their one and only shot at being heard by zealots), the unions had written:

“What is HR’s role?”

Mackinnon now added her own comment right underneath that one:

“Actually, we cannot notify the police if the victim/staff member doesn’t want us to.”

So could that be any clearer? We do not have to guess what the outcome was of the discussions between all of the key players as mooted back in the email of 23 November 2017.

Here is their unequivocal commitment to complainers in black and white.

The Scottish Government cannot – and therefore, of course, will not – notify the police of a specific complaint if the complainer does not want them to.

09 January 2018: Richards a wee bit wary of the input from Trade Unions who are unhappy at that the new procedure provides for management to decide if an complaint is to be reported to the police without the permission of the complainer.

Thanks Judith. We’ll need to pick up with them. I guess the drafting might be wide enough to allow
for the situation you envisage. Maybe we should put an extra sentence in to note that we won’t
inform the police without the employee’s consent?

09 January 2018: The Civil Service Trade Union was belatedly consulted about the new process and unsurprisingly had concerns since much of what was proposed under the new!!! harassment procedures wasalready covered by the “Fairness at Work” procedures introduced by Alex Salmond’s government nearly 10 years before. But with one new very pointed change: sexual harassment complaints would not permit any input from the Union. Important distinction? Well yes, Evans introduced the separation of sexual harassment only a day or so before the procedure was signed off by Sturgeon.

The statement

As you know, the current FAW process (which was agreed through collective agreement with unions) allows for all complaints to be dealt with through the deciding committee process. Unions have agreed that should any complaints be made (other than sexual harassment complaints which will go through the new process) at present that we would take a pragmatic view as to how they could be dealt with, while we continue our discussions about next steps with the new policy approach. We will need to handle this sensitively however as unions could seek to rest upon the existing collective
agreement for all cases in the event that discussions did not progress productively.

09 January 2018: Mackinnon was engaged in an email correspondence with the person designated in the heavily redacted Scottish Government documents produced for the Salmond inquiry as “Head of Branch, People Directorate 2”.

The subject of the correspondence had the catchy title “Complaints against Ministers Tracked version which shows union comments and final version which went to FM”.

The context of the correspondence was that the First Minister and her Permanent Secretary, in their panic to have Sturgeon removed from any role in the procedure at the earliest possible date, had put everyone under extreme pressure in the previous month to have the process finalised and approved. This had resulted, among other things, in a rushed and derisory “consultation” with the unions in which their last-minute comments had been tracked by HR onto a draft of the procedure. A few cosmetic changes had then been made in response before the procedure was hastily approved on the very same morning that the final union comments were received.

A further result of this was that the unions had not even been informed by the time of the January correspondence what the approved procedure was, and so the delicate task of pretending that their voices had somehow been heard and that this had been any kind of normal negotiation with management on a subject of considerable import for their members now fell to Mackinnon and her HR colleagues.

In carrying out this task, Mackinnon, who by this stage had already had extensive interaction with complainers Ms A and Ms B, and who would shortly become the Investigating Officer of their complaints, was also pursuing what was by now a well-established HR view, one that had been clearly set out in an email of 23 November 2017 from her boss Nicola Richards to Permanent Secretary Evans, and 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 justifying [sic] doing so (without putting them at risk of being identified and wider impacts).”

Despite the usual management-speak, that seems pretty clear. If a complainer doesn’t want to go to the police, it would be very difficult for the Scottish Government to justify doing so.

This is not just for the reason which is obvious to any lawyer, and indeed to any person endowed with an ounce of common sense, namely that people should be free to decide for themselves what they want to do about such important matters which will inevitably have the most profound effect on their lives.

It is also because going against a complainer’s expressed wishes in such a matter would patently breach the Scottish Government’s much-trumpeted “duty of care” – the Holy Grail of duties if the constant citing of it by Evans and her crew to justify their every action is anything to go by.

Nonetheless, it’s only fair to point out that this same email indicates that all of the key players in the process – Evans, Richards, Russell, Allison and Mackinnon herself – were due to have a further discussion of this and other important topics:

“Evans may want to discuss with Gillian, Barbara, Judith and I next week so that we can reach a view on the best way ahead.”

It can hardly be doubted that such a discussion took place nor that a final and very clear view was reached on it because it is that clear and final view that Mackinnon then set out in her January correspondence with “Head of Branch, People Directorate 2”.

09 January 2018: “Head of Branch, People Directorate 2” replied to Mackinnon:

“Thanks Judith. We’ll need to pick it up with them [the unions]. I guess the drafting may be wide enough to allow for the situation you envisage. Maybe we should put an extra sentence in to note that we don’t inform the police without the employee’s consent?”

Note what is being agreed here. An “extra sentence” will clarify the decided view of the Scottish Government that it cannot refer specific complaints to the police without the consent of the complainer but, even without such a clarifying sentence, “the drafting may be wide enough” that this view can be taken as forming part of the existing wording anyway.

As a lawyer of some experience in such matters, I am happy to confirm that the view of “Head of Branch, People Directorate 2” is correct. Paragraph 19 says only that “the SG may bring the matter directly to the attention of the Police”. As long as everyone involved in the process understands that the specific complaint may only be referred directly by the SG to the police with the consent of the complainer, there is no need for any revision.

Nonetheless, Mackinnon persisted. An hour later on 09 January 2018, she responded to the question about adding the extra sentence:

“That would do it I think.”

Four hours later, on the same date, “Head of Branch, People Directorate 2” came back to Mackinnon:

“See attached. We will need to pick up with Hynd on Thursday.”

This is the second reference in the correspondence to James Hynd, the Cabinet Secretary, who drafted all of the versions of the procedure before the dramatic Evans “recast” described elsewhere on this blog rendered him largely redundant, but who was still consulted, for form’s sake as much as anything it would seem, on such matters.

Of much greater significance is the attachment, the same tracked version of the procedure that had been going back and forth between them, but which now featured a revised paragraph 19 with this “extra sentence” duly added in accordance with Mackinnon’s wishes:

“SG as employer will not refer specific cases to the police without the knowledge/consent of the employee.”

So then paragraph 19, as revised at the specific request of Mackinnon, now read as follows:

“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 becomes apparent that the matter being raised is 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 will be advised and supported throughout.”

As usual in the inquiry proceedings, we do not have the paperwork for the meeting with James Hynd or other follow-up on this chapter, notwithstanding that it is central to the inquiry’s remit and would no doubt be very easy to locate and provide. (I’m the world’s biggest Luddite but even I fancy my chances with a simple document search for the subject heading “Complaints against Ministers Tracked version which shows union comments and final version which went to FM”.)

However, we know that Mackinnon’s proposed revision did not make it into the finally published procedure, and the reasons for that are hardly difficult to divine.

From mid-November 2017 onwards, it had become more and more critical to Evans and Sturgeon to have a decided procedure which gave Sturgeon plausible deniability of her knowledge of the complaints against Salmond just as soon as anything remotely coherent could be cobbled together.

After 20 December 2017, when this was, at least in their eyes, accomplished, it was seen as risking the whole project to change so much as a comma in the 20 December2017 version. That’s why, for example, something as central as the description of what became Mackinnon’s role has her wrongly described in the crucial paragraph 11 of the published procedure as the “senior officer” despite the fact that, as a sop to one of the union suggestions, “senior officer” was changed elsewhere in the procedure to “Investigating Officer.”

Evidently, even to rectify such an obvious inconsistency in a key term was deemed too risky.

(As noted above, though, it’s clear that not everyone got the memo about this, as a rather extraordinary chain of correspondence involving “Head of Branch, People Directorate 1” demonstrates. His or her drafts of the procedure, produced in late January, well after the procedure was supposedly set in stone, cheerfully sought to re-write the whole procedure to cover all complaints against Ministers, was sent to the various key players, and appears to have been left to die quietly on the vine.)

The evidence: Judith Mackinnon

This is part of Judith Mackinnon’s evidence on oath before a Parliamentary Committee on 01 December 2020:

Margaret Mitchell: Right. The referral [of the Salmond complainers’ specific complaints to the police] was not considered until a little later, then. Should it have been considered at the point at which the concern was raised?

Judith Mackinnon: Do you mean at the stage at which the initial formal complaint came in?

Margaret Mitchell: Yes

Judith Mackinnon: I am not aware that it was considered. I think that we were very much in the fact-finding stage. I do not remember an actual conversation, when the complaints came in, about reporting at that stage to the police.

Margaret Mitchell: Okay—but an option to report to the police was part of the route map, was it not?

Judith Mackinnon: Yes, I believe so.

Margaret Mitchell: So, that must have formed part of the thinking and discussions as the process was developed—and certainly when the complaints were received and the investigation took place.

Judith Mackinnon: I think that once the facts had been gathered, and the full picture was known, that was the stage at which the permanent secretary, as the deciding officer, might have considered the appropriateness of referring the matter to the police.”

That evidence is contrary to the facts.

Ms A lodged her formal complaint on 16 January 2018. Mackinnon was appointed Investigating Officer on the same day.

Ms B lodged her formal complaint, written for her by Mackinnon, on 23 January 2018.

These complaints “came in” just eight and fifteen days respectively after Mackinnon specifically asserted in writing that:

“… we cannot notify the police if the victim/staff member doesn’t want us to.”

It is inconceivable that she could have forgotten, then or now, that this was her clear and decided view.

The complaints “came in” just seven and fourteen days respectively after Mackinnon’s own request for an “extra sentence” in paragraph 19 was answered with the following:

“SG as employer will not refer specific cases to the police without the … consent of the employee.”

It is inconceivable that Mackinnon could have forgotten, then or now, that this was her clear and decided view of how paragraph 19 was to be interpreted and applied.

Mackinnon’s evidence that she was not aware of the issue of referral to the police being considered at the time when the complaints were lodged is contrary to the facts.

As the process was being developed, Mackinnon received and endorsed her boss’s email of 23 November 2017:

“We would need to consult with the individual before disclosing to … the police because of the risk of the matter getting into the press and the individuals being identified.

“… if they don’t want us to share information or go to the police, it would be very difficult to justifying [sic] doing so …”

It is inconceivable that Mackinnon could have forgotten, then or now, that this was the clear view being taken by herself and her Scottish Government colleagues on this matter as the policy was being developed in November 2017.

Mackinnon’s evidence that referral of complaints to the police did not form part of the thinking and discussions as the process was developed, and certainly when the complaints were received and the investigation took place, is contrary to the facts.

Mackinnon’s evidence that the appropriateness of referring the matter to the police was not considered until the stage when the facts had been gathered, and the full picture was known, is also contrary to the facts.

The evidence: Leslie Evans

This is part of Leslie Evans’s evidence on affirmation before a Parliamentary Committee on 12 January 2021:

“Ms Mitchell’s main point, if I picked it up correctly, is about the referral of the case to Police Scotland and the Crown Office and whether that was against the wishes of the complainers. It was against the wishes of the complainers—I understand that. The decision to refer the matter to the Crown Office was consistent with the procedure. You will have seen that in paragraph 19 of the procedure.”

The fact is that as at 09 January 2018, the Scottish Government’s clear and decided interpretation of paragraph 19 of the procedure was that they could not, and should not, refer specific complaints to the police without the express consent of the complainer.

The Scottish Government have produced no evidence to suggest that this interpretation was ever challenged or amended.

Evans’s evidence is contrary to the facts.

This is a further part of Evans’s evidence:

“… it says in the procedure that the Scottish Government may decide to refer a complaint to the police even if the complainer does not want it.”

Neither paragraph 19 nor any other part of the procedure says anything of the kind. The Scottish Government’s own interpretation of their own procedure in January 2018 was exactly the opposite of what Evans claims in her evidence on affirmation.

Evans’s evidence is contrary to the facts.

The war on Alex Salmond, and on the truth

Readers will have worked out by now what lies behind all that is set out above. It’s purely and simply part of the self-described “war” being waged on Alex Salmond by Nicola Sturgeon, Leslie Evans and all of their hirelings.

In November and December 2017 and in January 2018, it was never anticipated by any of them that a report to the police and consequent criminal investigation would be necessary for them to achieve their principal aims of establishing beyond all doubt their Me Too credentials while insulating the First Minister entirely from any criticism that might come from ruining beyond repair the man whom she herself called her mentor and person closest to her of anyone outside her family.

As I’ve detailed in earlier posts, and will return to again soon, this was achieved in the truly remarkable “recast” of the complaints procedure, tailored entirely and solely to get Alex Salmond, which was completed at nearly midnight on 05 December 2017, removing the First Minister of Scotland completely from the procedures of her own Government and doing away also with every last trace of procedural fairness for Alex Salmond.

It is hardly surprising then that the procedure at that stage still recognised the very obvious fact that whether to report things to the police is, and should be, entirely a matter for the responsible adult concerned. That fair and reasonable component of it was of no moment to them at the time.

By now we all know what changed in the months that followed.

Between January and August 2018, it became increasingly obvious to the whole sorry gang that they were in the most serious trouble. This was not least because Alex Salmond was sharing with them the advice of his senior counsel, which spelled out exactly why this was so, even on the very limited information Salmond’s defence then had.

Given that they themselves must have at least suspected that this was just the tip of the iceberg of what they’d perpetrated, and that things were exponentially worse for them than even Salmond knew – a suspicion which would soon be confirmed for them by their own senior counsel, when competent external legal advice was finally taken – it was obvious that an exit strategy was needed, and needed urgently.

And that of course is where the clear and decided Scottish Government policy on referral to the police, and of course the wishes of the complainers, were unceremoniously set aside.

If Salmond could be charged with criminal offences, the civil court proceedings which were inevitably coming could be sidelined – “sisted”, or suspended, to use the legal term – while criminal proceedings took their course. The gleeful and hysterical press coverage that would then be forthcoming from the ever-reliable Scottish media would ensure that the war was already all but won.

If Salmond could then be convicted of even one of those offences, then the war would be won in a rout.

Who, after all, would care what wee corners the Scottish Government might have cut in their righteous crusade to get justice for these brave complainers against a powerful sex offender?

The playbook could not be more obvious, nor is it the first time it has been run, by any means. It was only unfortunate for them that the integrity of their own counsel forced them to concede the judicial review just days short of the Salmond charges, and a decisive victory in the first battle of the war.

16 January 2018: Richards convened a meeting attended by Ms A. McKinnon participated by telephone. After some discussion the complaint was amended and signed off by Ms A. Exchange of emails between Ms A and MacKinnon covering a number of meetings between them

Comment: During her evidence submission to the Holyrood Inquiry Evans was asked to justify the inclusion in her Decision Report of a complaint resolved through mediation some 5 years previously

She said that Alex Salmond had continued with his inappropriate conduct towards other female staff members after the December 2013 incident and this had undermined his apology to Ms A. Stating: “Ms A made it clear that she accepted his apology, and agrees with the account of how the incident was handled at the time. However, a few months later she became aware that another female member of staff (who did not wish action to be taken at the time and who had not made a complaint under this procedure) had experienced inappropriate behaviour.

I am satisfied that Ms A accepted the apology at the time but that any sense of resolution felt by her was eroded when hearing of other experiences of sexual harassment subsequent to the apology.”

She concluded the complaint could be considered by the new procedure and determined that it was ‘well founded’.

Her statement caused the Inquiry concern due to the absence of any corroboration of the unsubstantiated new allegations. Ms A’s complaint should not have been considered.

23 January 2018: Ms B notified Richards of her decision to make a formal complaint. Richards contacted Mackinnon to inform her and to agree that Richards would notify Ms B that MacKinnon was conducting the investigation and that she would be in contact. MacKinnon contacted Ms B to let her know that Richards had informed her of Ms B’s intention to make a formal complaint.

23 January 2018: A telephone call was set up for Ms B to speak to Mackinnon. Ms B followed this call up by submitting her complaint by email.” which was subsequently received at 1356 hours on 24 January 2018 Ms B, formally lodged her complaint with MacKinnon.

24 January 2018: MacKinnon got to work setting up and interviewing witnesses.

26 January 2018: Ms B and MacKinnon, the Investigating Officer, meet formally to discuss and agree the wording of the complaint

Comment 1: Richards appointed Mackinnon to the role of Investigating Officer under the procedure. This was first done on 16 January 2018 in relation to Ms A’s complaint and on 23 January 2018 in relation to the complaint made by Ms B. This was a major error since there should be no prior contact with the complainants.

Comment 2: The Inquiry did not question the need to provide complainers with support, nor the forms of support offered. It did however question the involvement of an internal Investigating Officer. Procedures in comparable organisations insist on any investigation being conducted by a person completely independent of the employer. This prevents bias!!

06 February 2018: Lloyd texted Allison as follows:

“Ms X will ask to see you today. Best outcome from her is that as Human Resources and MacKinnon told her yesterday they didn’t need her to corroborate anything and as she told them she doesn’t want to tell her story…that by the end of today they decide they don’t need to speak to her and cancel it. She won’t say no because she doesn’t want it to look like she wouldn’t testify.”

Comment: This is confirmation that Lloyd who, like her boss, was supposed to know nothing about the Alex Salmond investigation, directed a senior civil servant to the result she and by clear implication, Sturgeon wanted to achieve regarding the evidence of a potential witness. And the outcome she wanted for Ms X was one where Mackinnon’s investigation of her evidence was shut down, “cancel it,” Lloyd said, “by the end of today”.

More on the contribution of Ms X: On 18 March 2020, After excerpts of the correspondence entered the public domain Ms X who was not in the employ of the Government chose to issue a clarification statement through the Scottish Government financed mouthpiece Rape Crisis Scotland.

In the release, she and Lloyd sought to provide a background to the extraordinary intervention by Lloyd, on 06 February 2018 in the Salmond investigation process.

Cock-up: The first statement Rape Crisis Scotland issued disclosed the identity of Ms X’s necessitating its urgent withdrawal and replacement with a second version together with the trust that all recipients would destroy the first edition. Not much chance of that. What a bummer!!!!!

In the statement Ms X said that claims of “interference” in the Salmond process by Lloyd were “fundamentally untrue” and that they “deliberately misrepresented” the content of the messages.

This beggars belief. In terms of the process Lloyd told Allison what the “best Outcome” should be and that she wanted “closure of the topic that day”. She was exerting the power gifted to her by Sturgeon.

The Miss X statement: “In January 2018 I was approached by Human Resources regarding an investigation they were undertaking into a complaint about Alex Salmond’s behaviour during his time as First Minister. I had been named as someone who experienced such behaviour in statements obtained during the course of their investigation. After discussion with them, I decided I did not in any way wish to share my own personal experiences, however I also did not wish to be seen to obstruct an investigation and I decided to raise the matter with a trusted senior person in government, Liz Lloyd, to gain advice and an understanding of my obligations. I was extremely conscious of the sensitivity of the investigation and I, therefore, did not tell Liz Lloyd who the complaint was from, who it was about or its nature.”

Incredulous: Miss X asked readers to believe that a fellow senior manager and “trusted” colleague in the Scottish Government, Lloyd, freely committed herself to get inappropriately involved in the investigation by sending a message containing confidential information about the complaints against Alex Salmond to Allison on 06 February 2018.

Anyway she continued: “I informed Liz I had been approached by Human Resources officer and asked if I wanted to make a complaint. I made it clear to the officer that I did not wish to, but I was concerned that if I didn’t I may be impeding the investigation. The officer offered to convey my concerns and what I wished to happen to a senior civil servant, who was the most appropriate person to discuss the issue with. I agreed to this course of action. This was not ‘interfering’ but acting in line with my wishes.”

Enter Allison: She was the senior civil servant to whom Ms X referred in her statement as “the most appropriate person to discuss the issue with”. She was a former director of HR who had been secretly tasked by Evans to the role of “pastoral care officer” for potential complainers. This is the Barbara who participated in the infamous text “Thanks Barbara….battle maybe lost but not the war.” on the day the Judicial Review was conceded:

Continuing: Allison forwarded Lloyd’s message of 06 February 2018 and an accompanying note to Mackinnon which stated: “Ms X” is coming to see me. What would you want me to tell her? To corroborate info and agree not copy it to Salmond? Or should we ‘stand her down? ”

Comment: The use of “we” as a descriptor in the last sentence is revealing since it confirms Allison and MacKinnon were members of an investigation team and it revealed that Lloyd was fully informed of all matters pertaining to the investigation well before 06 February 2018.

15 September 2020: Explaining her role in the Alex Salmond Investigation to the Holyrood Inquiry, Allison said: “I had some early contact with the two individuals who ultimately became complainants under the policy for the handling of harassment complaints. Other than that early initial contact, I had no involvement in the investigation.”

Allison was called to the Inquiry again in October 2020 to clarify her role in the investigation and to explain the meaning of the infamous “battle maybe lost but not the war” text which she had denied receiving.

She told the Inquiry: “To the extent that it might be relevant to today’s session, although I had early and limited contact with the complainers, I was not involved in the investigation process.”

Comment: Her statements totally contradicted the evidence already placed before the Inquiry her understated role was not limited to the provision of “pastoral care.”

Back to Mackinnon and Allison: Mackinnon responded to Allison that same day, 6 February 2018, saying: “Ms X did not tell us she didn’t want to tell her story or participate. She told us she was concerned and needed to consider. Bottom line is we can’t make her talk to us but at least we needs reason why she won’t. Not for us to stand her down – she needs to decide she’d rather not and tell us. Think we need her to give us in writing that she doesn’t want to take part. “Liz interference v bad.” Grrr. Jx”

Comment: Mackinnon totally contradicted Lloyd’s version of Ms X’s meeting with herself and an officer from Human Resources. She was right to be upset. Lloyd was not a member of the investigating team. She had no remit to intervene. and her efforts to block the line of investigation with Miss X was not complimentary with the public statement that the Civil Service was intent on: “promoting a climate that encouraged people to be supported or speak out”.

Why did Lloyd get involved? The big picture

It was all about tactics. Lloyd, intent on nailing Alex Salmond was tasked with keeping Sturgeon out of the picture as proofed by the Sturgeon instructed emergency recasting of the procedure early in December 2017” in which she removed herself from the pivotal role in the process she had discharged until that time. Deniable culpability

The participation of Miss X could compromise the mission to “get Salmond” which is the reason Lloyd involved herself and shut her down.

Back to MacKinnon: In her response to Allison she wrote: “Bottom line is we can’t make her talk to us – but at least we need the reason why she won’t. Not for us to stand her down – she needs to decide she’d rather not and tell us. Think we need her to give us in writing that she doesn’t want to take part. Grrrr” MacKinnon was not a happy bunny!!!

And what of Allison’s meeting with Ms X: According to Ms X’s public statement her meeting with Allison was scheduled for 6 February 2018, the very same day these messages were exchanged. She wrote: “I then met with the senior civil servant (Allison) and relayed my extreme apprehension about being involved in the investigation. She offered me reassurance that should I decline to cooperate that I would not be impeding the investigation.”

But her assertion must be wrong. Mackinnon had left Allison in no doubt whatsoever that she disapproved strongly of the behaviour of both Ms X and Lloyd and regarded what they were now seeking to achieve as a contradiction of Sturgeon’s own position and even a thwarting of Evans duty of care.

The idea that Allison would, that very same day, agree with, and offer “reassurance” about, the very thing that had driven Mackinnon to the point of growling in print, is unsustainable.

On 8 February 2018: The exchange of opinions dried up with a final note to Allison from MacKinnon “Still not heard from Ms X – so proposing to send her this – “As I have not heard further from you in relation to the investigation, I will take that as an indication that you do not wish to engage further with the process. – ok Barbara?”

Allison’s reply was: “Can you hold off a bit? Liz is getting me you a number to call her.”

“Will do,” Mackinnon replied.

“Ta. B,” texted Allison. Then, a bit later: “Hi ……… is texting me now with her number apparently. Bx”

And, finally, Mackinnon to Allison: “Standing by. X”

There it ends: It is clear is that Lloyd’s extraordinary involvement on behalf of Ms X would continue, and that the conduit for that interference would be Allison, who remained actively involved in the investigation.

None of the foregoing squares with the evidence on oath, of Allison to the Holyrood Inquiry in which she said: “I had some early contact with the two individuals who ultimately became complainants under the policy for the handling of harassment complaints. Other than that early initial contact, I had no involvement in the investigation.”

Compelling evidence that Sturgeon knew about, wanted, and directed, the campaign to get Alex Salmond, and that she did so from the very start.

Special Advisers are excluded from the line management structure of the civil service Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010 and the Ministerial Code, dictates that all appointments of special advisers in the Scottish Government are to be made by the First Minister who is personally responsible for the management, welfare and conduct of special advisers, including discipline.

19-22 February 2018: MacKinnon forwarded a 27 page draft allegation assessment progress report to Ms A and Ms B

26 February 2018: Exchange of correspondence Mackinnon Ms A and Ms B referring to their input to procedures and setting up a meeting with Evans

28 February – 7 March 2018: MacKinnon and Evans advice to Ms A and Ms B culminating in Evans letter of 7 March 2018 advising Alex of a receipt of complaints from Ms A and Ms B which Evans warrants further investigation.

02 Mar 2018: Sex scandals in Scottish parliament under Sturgeon’s watch

The publication date, early March 2018, is very relevant. This was a Scottish Government survey conducted right at the start of the efforts to destroy the reputation of Alex Salmond.

The report was a political bombshell, and yet it never appeared in any of the copious senior management texting correspondence. Sturgeon maintained she knew nothing about anything, which is impossible to believe since she read and commented on the document.

The October 2017, “Me2” campaign and the Westminster sex scandal arising from it prompted the completion of a confidential survey of people employed at Holyrood, including MSPs, their staff, parliamentary workers, and news reporters. Over 1000 individuals responded and the results were shocking.

The Holyrood sexual harassment report was sent to Sturgeon in the first week of March 2018. It listed more than 200 allegations of harassment, most dating from 2016.

Of the 137 women who said they had been sexually harassed, 67 reported that the perpetrator was an MSP. The report was quickly buried, and only Alex Salmond was put through the ringer. Why?

The findings showed that Holyrood perpetrators were nearly always male, regardless of the gender of the victim and in the majority of cases, the alleged perpetrator was in a position of authority.

Reports included 5 instances where the perpetrator had attempted to pinch or grope the victim’s bottom, and 10 where they had tried to kiss their victim. There was even 1 attempt to grope the breast of a woman, and another attempt to grab at a victim’s crotch.

The report also indicated that victims and their perpetrators were “most likely” to come from the same group of people. Nine of the 13 MSPs who had reported sexual harassment said their abuser had been another MSP.

Some 40 percent of respondents said they had been targeted by a parliamentary worker, and a further 20 percent by a member of MSPs’ staff. The total percentage exceeds 100 percent, as some respondents reported more than one case of harassment.

A total of 29 percent of respondents – which is approximately 300 people – said they had witnessed sexual harassment. One-in-five women said they had received sexist comments, 16 percent reported unwanted looks or leers, and another nine percent reported unwanted physical contact.

Of concern was that 11 people who had reported harassment said their cases were not taken seriously or acted on by their managers, while four said their complaints had caused problems for them at work. Most had taken no action at all, and a quarter of respondents said they didn’t feel confident that they knew how to report such incidents. (Sputnik)

The Scottish National party (SNP) is the only party in Scotland that cannot provide evidence of overhauling its sexual harassment policy following the #MeToo revelations of November 2017. This after a confidential survey conducted on 01 March 2018 found that one in 10 staff had experienced sexual harassment, 45% of whom said that the perpetrator was an MSP.

After note: All political parties, apart from the SNP, introduced revised procedures after 2017. Asked for comment, the SNP said it “continually looks to improve [its] policies and processes” and planned to introduce, in time, trained sexual harassment advisers.

The SNP is the only party which did not at the time display a code of conduct and relevant harassment policy on its website, or offer an easily searchable contact phone numbers or email to make a complaint. Indeed, the SNP code of conduct made no mention of sexual harassment specifically. (Guardian)

06 March 2018: Evans met privately with one of the complainants and had a telephone discussion with the other. No recods kept!!

07 March 2018: Evans wrote to Alex informing him of the complaints and asked him to respond

16 March 2018: Alex responded to Evans, stating that he was taking advice from counsel before responding. She responded extending the deadline for a response to 04 April 2018.

16 – 30 March 2018: Exchange of “testy” correspondence between Evans, attempting to decide the pace of the investigation and Alex’s legal team who are insistent her terms of engagement were unfair.

28 March – 04 April 2018: MacKinnon in email correspondence with a number of people advising she would be away on holiday over Easter. Also updates on a number of matters.

07 March – 02 April 2018Alex Salmond’s record of events

On receipt of the letter from Evans first informing Alex of complaints on 07 March 2018 he secured Levy and McRae as his solicitors and Duncan Hamilton, Advocate and Ronnie Clancy QC as his counsel.

Even at this early stage he had identified that there were a range of serious deficiencies in the procedure. There was no public or parliamentary record of it ever being adopted. In addition it contained many aspects of both procedural unfairness and substantive illegality. There was an obvious and immediate question over the respect to which the Scottish Government even had jurisdiction to consider the complaints.

In relation to former Ministers (in contrast to current Ministers) it offered no opportunity for mediation. The complaints procedure of which Alex was familiar (‘Fairness at Work’) was based on the legislative foundation of the Ministerial Code in which the First Minister was the final decision maker. Alex wished to bring all of these matters to the attention of Sturgeon. I did not know at that stage the degree of knowledge and involvement in the policy on the part of both Sturgeon and Lloyd.

Geoff Aberdein, Alex’s former Chief of Staff telephoned Alex or around 09 March 2018 and again the week after and advised him of the content of discussions he had had with Liz Lloyd in the first week of March 2018, at her invitation. In the latter meeting Lloyd informed Aberdein that she was aware of two complaints concerning Alex under a new complaints process introduced to include former Ministers. She named one of the complainers to him.

Aberdein had been asked by Lloyd to be her contact with Alex and they jointly arranged a meeting with Sturgeon in the Scottish Parliament on 29 March 2018. This meeting was for the purpose of discussing the complaints and thereafter arranging a direct meeting between Alex and Sturgeon. There was never the slightest doubt what the meeting was about.

In attendance at the meeting on 02 April 2018 were Aberdein, Hamilton, Lloyd and Alex. Sturgeon and Alex met privately and then there was a general discussion with all five of them. Alex’s purpose was to alert Sturgeon to the illegality of the process (not being aware at that time of her involvement in it) and to seek an intervention from Sturgeon to secure a mediation process to resolve the complaints.

Alex was well aware that under the Ministerial Code Sturgeon should notify the civil service of the discussion and believed that this would be the point at which she would make her views known. Sturgeon assured Alex that she would make such an intervention at an appropriate stage.

Sturgeon’s version of events in her statement to the Holyrood Inquiry:

Alex Salmond told me on 02 April 2018 at a meeting at my home that complaints against him were being investigated under the Procedure. At that meeting, he showed me a copy of the letter he had received outlining the detail of the complaints.

As has been reported already, four days earlier 29 March 2018 I had spoken with Geoff Aberdein (former Chief of Staff to Alex Salmond) in my office at the Scottish Parliament. Mr Aberdein was in Parliament to see a former colleague and while there came to see me. I had forgotten that this encounter had taken place until I was reminded of it in, I think, late January/early February 2019.

For context, I think the meeting took place not long after the weekly session of FMQs and in the midst of a busy day in which I would have been dealing with a multitude of other matters. However, from what I recall, the discussion covered the fact that Alex Salmond wanted to see me urgently about a serious matter, and I think it did cover the suggestion that the matter might relate to allegations of a sexual nature.

Around this time, I had been made aware separately of a request from Mr Aberdein for me to meet with Alex Salmond. The impression I had at this time was that Mr Salmond was in a state of considerable distress, and that he may be considering resigning his party membership. However, while I suspected the nature of what he wanted to tell me was for reasons set out below it was Alex Salmond who told me on 02 April 2018 that he was being investigated under the Procedure and what the detail of the complaints was. It is this meeting due to the nature of the information shared with me at it that has always been significant in my mind. As stated above, I suspected the reason Alex Salmond wanted to see me on 02 April 2018 was that he was facing an allegation of sexual misconduct.

Although my contact with Mr Aberdein on 29 March 2018 may have contributed to that suspicion, it was not the only factor. For example, in early November 2017, the SNP received a enquiry from Sky News about allegations of sexual misconduct on the part of Alex Salmond. I spoke to Mr Salmond about this allegation at the time. He denied it and, as it
happened, Sky did not run a story about it at that time. Since the identity of the individuals was not made known to us and they did not approach the SNP directly, there was no further action that it would have been possible to take. However, even though he assured me to the contrary, all of the circumstances surrounding this episode left me with a lingering concern that allegations about Mr Salmond could materialise at some stage.

It is reasonable to ask why, if I suspected the nature of what he wanted to speak to me about on 02 April 2018. I nevertheless agreed to the meeting. The answer is both political and personal. I thought Mr Salmond may be about to resign from the SNP and that, as a result of this or other aspects of how he intended to handle the matter he was dealing with, the party could have been facing a public/media issue that we would require to respond to.

As Party Leader, I considered it important that I knew if this was in fact the case in order that I could prepare the party to deal with what would have been a significant issue. There is also the personal aspect. Mr Salmond has been closer to me than probably any other person outside my family for the past 30 years, and I was being told he was very upset and wanted to see me personally.

To return to the meeting on 2 April 2018, although others were present, Mr Salmond initially asked to see me privately. He advised me that he was being investigated under the Procedure and showed me a copy of the letter he had received. Notwithstanding the suspicions I had harboured going into this meeting, I was shocked and upset by the reality of what I read. He gave me his reaction to the complaints in the main he denied them, though in relation to one matter he said that he had previously apologised and considered it out of order for it to be raised again and said that it was his intention to seek a process of mediation between himself and the complainers.

It was also clear contrary to what I had anticipated that he did not intend to resign his party membership or do anything to make the matter public at that stage. I made clear to him that I had no role in the process and would not seek to intervene in it. I took no action as a result of this meeting. Mr Salmond sent me a message on 22 April 2018 asking to speak to me by phone. As previously advised to Parliament, I spoke to him by phone on 23 April 2018 (the substantive call took place early evening after a call in the morning had to be aborted due to poor signal). He asked me if I would make the Permanent Secretary aware that I knew about the investigation and encourage her to accept his request for mediation. I said that I was not willing to do so. A special adviser was in the room with me during this call, though not on the line.

Calton Jock Afternote: Sturgeon told Parliament in 2019 that she first learned of the complaints against Alex when he visited her home on 02 April 2018. This is untrue and is a breach of the Ministerial Code. The evidence from Aberdein that he personally discussed the complaints with Sturgeon’s Special Adviser, Liz LLoyd, in the first week of March 2018, and summarised the substance of the complaints, with Sturgeon in a pre-arranged meeting in Parliament on 29th March 2018 arranged for that specific purpose cannot be reconciled with Sturgeon’s statement to Parliament.

The fact is that Aberdein learned of these complaints in early March 2018 from Sturgeon’s Chief of Staff, liz Lloyd who arranged for the meeting between Aberdein and Sturgeon on 29 March to discuss them, is supported by his sharing that information contemporaneously with Kevin Pringle and Duncan Hamilton, Advocate.

In her written submission to the Holyrood Inquiry Sturgeon finally admitted to the meeting on 29 March 2018, claiming to have previously “forgotten” about it. That is untenable. The pre-arranged meeting in the Scottish Parliament of 29 March 2018 was ‘forgotten’ about because acknowledging it would have rendered ridiculous Sturgeon’s later claim in Parliament that it had been believed that the meeting on 02 April 2018 was on SNP Party business (Official Report 08 & 10 January 2019) and thus held at her private residence. The attendance of Liz Lloyd, in her formal capacity as Chief of Staff proves this was not true. The meeting exclusively discussed Government business.

In reality all participants in that meeting were fully aware of what the meeting was about and why it had been arranged. The meeting took place with a shared understanding of the issues for discussion -the complaints made and the Scottish Government procedure which had been launched. Sturgeon’s claim that it was ever thought to be about anything other than the complaints made against Alex is wholly false.

The failure to account for the meeting on 29 March 2018 when making a statement to Parliament, and thereafter failing to correct that false representation is a further breach of the Ministerial Code. Further, the repeated representation to the Parliament of the meeting on the 02 April 2018 as a ‘party’ meeting because it occurred in the ignorance of the complainants is manifestly untrue. The meeting on 02 April 2018 was arranged as a direct consequence of the prior meeting about the complaints held in the Scottish Parliament on 29 March 2018.

Sturgeon also informed Parliament (Official Report 10 January 2019) that ‘She did not know how the Scottish Government was dealing with the complaint, She did not know how the Scottish Government intended to deal with the complaint and She did not make any effort to find out how the Scottish Government was dealing with the complaint or to intervene in how the Scottish Government was dealing with the complaint.’

That statement is at variance with the facts and Sturgeon’s assertion is at odds with the truth. She did offer to intervene, in the presence of all those at her on the 02 April 2018. Moreover, she did engage in following the process of the complaint and indeed reported the status of that process to Alex personally over the following months

02 April 2018: Alex also warned Sturgeon about sexual harassment allegations against Patrick Grady, the SNP’s chief whip at Westminster. She did not order an inquiry into his conduct and it was 3 years later before his misconduct was exposed and he was forced to stand down, although he was reinstated only weeks later. Double standards indeed. See:

The suggestion by Sturgeon to the Scottish Parliament that the meeting was ‘fleeting or opportunistic’ is simply untrue. It was agreed at the 29 March 2018 meeting in the Scottish Parliament attended by Aberdein, Sturgeon and another individual that the meeting between Alex and the Sturgeon would take place on 02 April 2018 at her home near Glasgow. Self-evidently only Sturgeon could issue that invitation to her private home.

Geoff Aberdein was not called to give evidence to the Holyrood Inquiry but he did provide an uncontested precognition statement to the Crown Court at Alex’s later trial stating that at the meeting of 02 April 2018: “the conversation was around the fact of the complaints, without discussing the specifics of them. There was discussion about the investigation, the process of it, the fact it was a civil service investigation being conducted by civil servants.”


The Hamilton Report

James Hamilton wrote to Scottish ministers raising his concerns about the redactions which would be made to his report which was the result of seven months of investigation into whether the First Minister had broken any rules in her statements to Parliament about the Alex Salmond sexual harassment complaints. His letter, which was published along with his conclusions, said that the removal of sections of his report by the government to prevent jigsaw identification of those who complained about Alex Salmond would lead to an “incomplete and even at times misleading version of what had happened.”

A key part of the report necessarily refers to certain events prior to 29 March 2018, which are highly significant for understanding who was aware of complaints made against Mr Salmond and what they did with that information. These discussions set in train a series of events which ultimately led to the meeting between the First Minister and the Former
Chief of Staff on 29 March and the subsequent contacts between the First Minister and Mr Salmond. It is also essential to a full and true understanding of what happened to be able to discuss fully why, how and by whom these meetings were arranged. All redacted from the report.

Murrell’s evidence to the Holyrood Inquiry lends support to the view that the meeting was official Government business. He said: ” Nicola met Alex at our private residence in Glasgow on 02 April 2018. She said she couldn’t discuss the details. I didn’t press the matter only found out what the meeting was about four months later.”

His revelation surprised the Inquiry since they had tacitly accepted Sturgeon’s assertion in her evidence that she had agreed to meet Alex in her home in her capacity as SNP leader, rather than on government business, raising questions about why Murrell, as the Party’s Chief Executive, had not been invited to participate in the meeting.

04 April 2018: Evans wrote to Alex extending the deadline to 25 April 2018. The letter stated that, if a substantive response was not received by that date, the Scottish Government would move to the next phase of the procedure.

22 April 2018: 20:31: Alex to Sturgeon: “it would be help if I could call you on WhatsApp 10.30am and 12 noon tomorrow.”

22 April 2018: 21:05: Sturgeon to Alex: “I’ll be in the car until 1100 on way to Inverness so 10.30 will be ok. I’ll not be free again after that until 12.30/1300. There will be others in car so I’ll not be able to talk openly…it’ll be later in day before I can be in private.”

22 April 2018: 22:03: Alex to Sturgeon: “In which case I will Phone just after 10.30am with update and we can perhaps speak properly later on.”

23 April 2018: Alex to Sturgeon: “My legal team has writtten to Evans seeking to resolve matters through mediation We believe her responses to date are unacceptable and her judgements flawed in law.”

Sturgeon’s recollection: Alex sent me a message on 22 April 2018 asking to speak to me by phone. As previously advised to Parliament, I spoke to him by phone on 23 April (the substantive call took place early evening after a call in the morning had to be aborted due to poor signal). He asked me if I would make the Permanent Secretary aware that I knew about the
investigation and encourage her to accept his request for mediation. I said that I was not willing to do so. A special adviser was in the room with me during this call, though not on the line.

24 April 2018: Evans responded rejecting the offer of mediation as the investigation “is still in the fact finding stage” stating that, as such, mediation would “not be appropriate at this time.” The letter reiterated that, if Alex was planning to make a substantive response, he should do so by 25 April 2018.

25 April 2018: Alex wrote to Evans stating that a response would be provided the following day.

26 April 2018: Alex wrote to Evans about the rejection of the offer of mediation and asked for clarification as to what stage the procedure was at in light of her comment that it was in the fact-finding stage. The letter raised a number of issues with the procedure and information supplied to date and noted that he disputed “most of the factual content of the allegations”. An offer of mediation was made for a second time.

26 April 2018: Strongly worded letter from Alec’s legal team to Evans indicating discontent with her approach and seeking clarification of a number of issues that need to be resolved before Alex participates any further.

27 April 2018: Judith MacKinnon wrote to Ms B. A letter was received last night (26 April from Alex Salmond, via his solicitor. A reply will be issued next week after further consideration. The letter included specific responses to some of the incidents raised but not all of them. A number of individuals have been identified as witnesses for interview – not currently employed by the Scottish Government. There is also a suggestion that the names of current civil servants could be provided as witnesses, but assurance around confidentiality is sought. Overall, the position is that most of the factual content of the causes for concern is disputed. He denies that he ever harassed any civil servant. The fairness of the procedure is also disputed.

Alec Salmond’s solicitors have repeated their offer of mediation. Mediation is an informal way in which to try to resolve a dispute between parties. It would be helpful to know if this is something you would be prepared to engage with, at any stage. I can’t provide much more information on what might be involved or what a successful outcome might look like as we don’t have any detail of this. It is proposed that it might involve Alex Salmond, a mediator and you talking in an informal session about the complaint. Mediation would not replace the formal process, but any outcome could be referred to by the Permanent Secretary in her final decisions. Whatever your decision, we would provide the appropriate support for you. If you could consider, perhaps over the weekend, and let me know early next week – that would be helpful. The reply will set out intended timelines for the next stage, which I will share with you once they have been confirmed. In the meantime take care. Best wishes Judith “

30 April 2018: Evans secretary, wrote to Alex noting that the offer of mediation had been put to the complainers and that they had declined it. The letter further stated that Alex’s substantive response of 26 April 2018 would be passed to MacKinnon for her consideration. Evans defended the retrospective nature of the procedure.

30 April 2018: Alec’s legal team exchanged correspondence with Evans explaining the unfairness of the procedure which failed to provide the accused with full details of the charges together with witness statements The process credibility was further challenged with the unacceptable protocol allowing the Investigating Officer total authority over who should be called as a witness then deciding what questions would be asked of them.

02 May 2018: MacKinnon updated Richards as to the progress of the investigation.

08 May 2018: Alex wrote to Evans raising issues around the procedural unfairness and incompetency of the procedure. The letter listed information which had not been made available to him including statements from the complainers and witnesses and Ministerial diary entries.

10 May 2018: Mackinnon as Investigating Officer, contacted witnesses provided by Alex.

15 May 2018: Evans office contacted MacKinnon for an update on the investigation. The response stated that statements from witnesses proposed by Alex should be complete by 25 May 2018.

30 May 2018: MacKinnon sent an email update to Evans office and to Richards stating that two witness statements had been taken. MacKinnon had set a final deadline of 6 June 2018 for another witness to make a statement and said that if a statement could not be taken by then she would proceed without his evidence.

31 May 2018: It was becoming clear that the substantial arguments Alex’s legal team were making in correspondence against the legality of the procedure were not having any impact with Evans.

The team advised Alex that it was impossible to defend himself against the complaints under such a flawed procedure. They advised that a petition for Judicial Review would have excellent prospects of success given the Government were acting unlawfully. Alex was extremely reluctant to sue the Government he once led and he wanted to avoid the damage both to the Scottish Government and the SNP which would inevitably result. To avoid such a drastic step, he resolved to let Sturgeon view the draft petition for Judicial Review. As a lawyer, and as First Minister, he assumed that she would see the legal jeopardy into which the government was drifting. He also sought a further meeting.

31 May 2018: 11:24: Alex to Sturgeon: “In Glasgow tomorrow – could we meet?”

31 May 2018: 11:39: “Sturgeon to Alex: “Tomorrow’s very difficult – is it urgent?”

31 May 2018: 11:45: “Alex to Sturgeon: “Next few days. I could do tomorrow evening or Monday from lunchtime onwards.”

31 May 2018: 11:46: ” Sturgeon to Alex: “The only time I could possibly do tomorrow is around 4. Is it about what we spoke about before?”

31 May 2018: 11:56: Alex to Sturgeon: “Yes”

31 May 2018: 11:56: Alex to Sturgeon: “4 is fine – same place?”

31 May 2018: 17:07: Sturgeon to Alex: ” Tomorrow is actually proving tricky given other stuff I’ve got on. I’m trying to juggle a couple of things – will confirm later/in morning if 4pm possible and if not suggest alternative.”

31 May 2018: 19:23: Alex to Sturgeon: “I suggest just two of us – I can leave you with some material to digest over weekend Meeting itself need not take long but tomorrow would be best if poss.”

01 June 2018: 07:51: Sturgeon to Alex: “Sorry but I just can’t do today – I don’t have time to get home given other stuff. Happy to speak on phone over weekend and see what else is possible.”

01 June 2018: 09:36: Alex to Sturgeon: “Phone not appropriate – there is material you need to see and assess privately. Can I come to you Sunday or very first thing Monday?”

01 June 2018: 13:37: Sturgeon to Alex: “I’m not at home at weekend and in Aberdeen on Monday. In any event, I’d prefer a quick chat first to understand the purpose of giving me material. We’ve already spoken about why I think me intervening is not right thing to do. Happy to talk on what’s app at some point over weekend.”

03 June 2018: 10:15: Alex to Sturgeon: “My recollection of our Monday 2 April 2018 meeting is rather different. You wanted to assist but then decided against an intervention to help resolve the position amicably. Now is different. I was intending to give you sight of the petition for JR drafted by senior counsel. You are a lawyer and can judge for yourself the prospects of success which I am advised are excellent. This will follow ANY adverse finding against me by the PS in a process which is unlawful. You are perfectly entitled to intervene if it is brought to your attention that there is a risk of your Government acting unlawfully in a process of which you had no knowledge. Indeed it could be argued that is your obligation under the Scotland Act is to ensure that all government actions are consistent with Convention undertakings The JR will be rough for me since the hearing will almost certainly be made public but at least I will have the opportunity to clear my name and good prospects of doing so – but for the Government? One further thing to consider. Thus far we have been able to confine evidence offered to the general (and mostly ridiculous) matters. This has had the benefit of keeping everything well clear of current administration. When we go to Court we will have to produce evidence to demonstrate prior process (which incidentally Evans has admitted!). If you want to discuss privately then I can come to you in the North East on Monday.”

Sturgeon’s recollection: In her statement to the Hoyrood Inquiry she said: Alex sent me a further message on 3 June 2018. Both the tone and content of this message led me to conclude that legal action by Alex against the Scottish Government was a serious prospect. I decided that I should make Evans aware of this, and I wrote to her on 06 June 2018.

At this juncture, it may be helpful to briefly set out for the Committee why I had not previously informed Leslie Evans of my contact with Alex Salmond or my knowledge of the investigation. The relevant sections of the Ministerial Code (4.22 and 4.23) seek to guard against undisclosed outside influence on decisions that Ministers are involved in. It seemed to me that this was the opposite situation. This was a decision I was excluded from and it seemed to me that the risk of inadvertently and unintentionally influencing it would arise if those undertaking the investigation were aware of my knowledge of it. The risk even if theoretical and subconscious would be that considerations of what I might think would influence the decisions taken. Further, according to my reading of these sections of the Code, my contact with Alex Salmond once notified would have had to be made public. This could have compromised the confidentiality of the process. My judgment, therefore, was that the best way to protect the process was not to make my knowledge of it known. This judgment changed when I had reason to believe that legal action against the government was being considered.

05 June 2018: Alex wrote to Evans, to “consolidate objections to the proceedings as a whole”. The letter was passed to MacKinnon on 11 June 2018.

05 June 2018: 14:02: Sturgeon to Alex: “Hi – I have been considering your message and what I need to do in light of it. If you still want to meet, I can do tomorrow evening in Edinburgh and update you then.”

05 June 2018: 19:24: Alex to Sturgeon: “Happy to meet – soonest I can get to Edinburgh is around 8.30. I take it this is totally informal, one to one.”

05 June 2018 19:40: “Sturgeon to Alex: “Ok – happy for it to be one to one – will have to be either parliament or Bute, whatever you prefer. The alternative if its easier is Aberdeen on Thursday night – I’ll be there from around 8, staying in hotel somewhere near beach ballroom I think.”

05 June 2018: 20:08: Alex to Sturgeon: “Yes Thursday much better, thanks. I’ll be there for 8.30 to give you time to settle in.”

05 June 2018: 20:12: Sturgeon to Alex: “Ok. It’s the Hilton hotel at the beach.”

05 June 2018: 20:17: Alex to Sturgeon: “Grand”

07 June 2018: 19:00: Sturgeon to Alex: ” You should go to the Platinum reception at the back of hotel later. There’s a private room arranged there for us to meet in.”

07 June 2018: 19:07: Alex to Sturgeon: “OK thanks. Traffic was bad but now well on the way. Should arrive c 8.40 and will give 5 minute warning on approach.”

07 June 2018: 19:09: Sturgeon to Alex: “I’m running late too – but should be there just
before you.”

07 June 2018: 19:14: Alex to Sturgeon: “OK shall we make it 8.50 so we are not rushing”

07 June 2018: 19:25: Sturgeon to Alex: “I’m ok for as soon as you get there.”

07 June 2018: 19:36: Alex to Sturgeon: “Grand”

07 June 2018: 20:46: Sturgeon to Alex: “Now in Aberdeen 5 minutes or so.”

13 June 2018: Alex wrote to Evans seeking assurances of confidentiality, stating specifically that sharing details with Sturgeon would be a breach of confidentiality. The letter also restated his position that Evans, had “no jurisdiction to apply the 2017 procedure.”

18 June 2018: The Scottish Government received a FOI request specifically asking if there had been complaints about Alex’s conduct. The deadline for response to the FOI request was noted as 16 July 2018. See reply dated 20 September 2018

18 June 2018: FOI request: Many attribute the journalist to be David Clegg of the Daily Record but this is not the case. The FOI was submitted by Hamish Macdonnell, a long serving political journalist for many newspapers including the Times. He left the Times for an executive position in the Salmon industry not long after submitting the enquiry:

FOI request: From: Sent: I’d like to request any information relating to complaints about the conduct of Alex Salmond while he was first minister.

From the Scottish government. To? : Redacted: Anybody’s guess!!!! By reference to section 18(1) of FOISA we cannot confirm or deny whether any information is held. We are applying section 18(1) in conjunction with section 35(1)(c) (information exempt if disclosure would, or would be likely to prejudice substantially the administration of justice) and section 38(1)(b) (personal data). The exemption in section 35(1)(c) is subject to the public interest test. We have viewed the public interest test to be the balance between the need to be open and transparent in our decision making and ensuring that we do not prejudice substantially the administration of justice. In that regard we cannot confirm or deny if any such information exists and we have concluded that the balance favours adopting that approach. The exemption in section 38(1)(b) is not subject to the public interest test but we have applied the public interest as required by section 18 and have concluded that to reveal whether the information exists or not would be contrary to the public interest. But then the Scottish government official, writing on the instructions of Evans, added unrequested confidential information to the reply. “For information, I have attached the response to a recent Parliamentary Question which you may find helpful.


Helpful to whom?? and Why?? The information added referred to an unrelated question submitted to the Scottish government at Holyrood by Labour MSP Monica Lennon, a Stonewaller, champion of LGBTQ activists.

In November 2017, she went public with how she was sexually assaulted by a Labour colleague at a party in 2013, while other colleagues brushed off the incident. Following revelations of similar incidents within the Party, she argued that the Party and British politics had an institutional problem with sexual assault and harassment that needed to be urgently addressed. This explains the question she asked in Holyrood. Which was:

Question: S5W-18396: To ask the Scottish government whether it will provide the information it holds on how many complaints it has received relating to sexual assault or sexual harassment by (a) Minsters, (b) Special Advisers and (c) its staff, since 1999. How many complaints have been upheld; how many cases have been referred to the police and whether anyone has been disciplined or dismissed following these complaints.

The Scottish government answer: As an employer, the Scottish government does not make determinations about whether the nature of a complaint constitutes a sexual assault as that is rightly a matter for police Scotland to determine. We do not therefore have a record of any complaints that have been recorded as “sexual assault”. In response to part (a), between 1999 and the end of 2017 the Scottish government holds no recorded complaints of this nature against Ministers.

That should have ended the response from the Scottish government but its reply was then extended to include information unrelated to the request: which was about complaints of sexual assault or sexual harassment!!!!!

“In January 2018, the Scottish government received two harassment complaints relating to Alex. These complaints were considered under a Scottish government procedure for Handling Harassment Complaints Involving Current or Former Ministers. For legal reasons the Scottish government cannot provide further information.”

19 June 2018: Alex offered lawyer-to-lawyer discussions by email to Evans office. This was rejected. The offer was made again on 21 June 2018 and was rejected with a note that “since a formal process is underway it is best if you continue to make representations direct to Evans”.

20 June 2018: MacKinnon drafted a summary of “Where we are now…” The document contained notes in relation to the FOI which had been received.

21 June 2018: Evans wrote to Alex (responding to his letters of 5 and 13 June 2018). The letter stated that the she remained satisfied that the procedure is “fair and legally competent”. The letter also noted that the Scottish Government “continues to take all reasonable steps to maintain the confidentiality of the investigation” but noted that “an absolute guarantee of confidentiality” could not be given because of the Government’s statutory obligations “including those in relation to Parliament and Freedom of Information legislation.”

26 June 2018: Alex wrote to Evans offering arbitration as a means to address the dispute on the issue of “competency and illegality” of the procedure. Clarification was also asked around what was meant by statutory duties in relation to not giving a guarantee of confidentiality. An exemption in FOI legislation was highlighted.

04 July 2018: Evans responded to Alex stating that she remained satisfied that the procedure is “fair and competent” and rejected the offer of arbitration. Alex was also advised of the receipt of a FOI request.

05 July 2018: 21:18: Alex to Sturgeon: “Nicola. I have slept on the content of the latest letter from Evans rejecting arbitration. Two points. I want to make to you privately. Firstly, the explanation given in the letter is that arbitration is rejected because the SG is confident in the legality of the process. With respect, that entirely misses the point. The SG may well believe it is lawful. My Senior Counsel believes it is unlawful. That’s the whole point of the arbitration. The legality will have to be resolved either in private (in a confidential and binding arbitration) or in public at the Court of Session.

The SG, and you, have everything to gain from arbitration. If my legal advice is wrong, I will accept that and the current process proceeds. If the SG legal advice is wrong, you discover that without losing in a public court. Adopting an arbitration process also guarantees confidentiality for the complainers, regardless of what happens. Secondly, Evans has now intimated that an FOI has been submitted. The SG response to that request is of the utmost importance. Confirmation of even the existence of a specific complaint will be sufficient to start a process which leads to the near certainty of these matters becoming public.

My legal advice is that a “neither confirm or deny” response which avoids acknowledging the existence of any documents can be issued under section 18 of the FOI Act which covers S38 (1) (b) {personal information}. It is critical
that this happens. There remains a way to resolve this but it requires the PS to be encouraged to accept that confidential arbitration offers the best solution and to ensure that the FOI is carefully handled. I hope you will do so but time is now very short.”

09 July 2018: Alex wrote to Evans seeking confirmation that an exemption would be applied under the terms of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 and that material would not be released. The letter also renewed the offer of arbitration.

11 July 2018: Alex wrote to Evans covering the offer of arbitration as well as raising a subject access request under the Data Protection Act 2018, for access to diaries relating to his period in office.

12 July 2018: Evans responded to Alex’s letters of 09 and 11 July 2018 rejecting the offer of arbitration stating that the Scottish Government was not in a position to confirm how it would deal with the FOI request. The letter also noted that Mackinnon “is concluding her investigation and is likely to submit her final report Evans by close of business on Monday

13 July 2018: Alex wrote to Evans on the matter of arbitration stating that it was not intended to cover “the substance of the causes of concern” but the dispute on “competency and illegality.’

13 July 2018: 11:01: Alex to Sturgeon: “Grateful for your message via ??. Happy to meet privately. Understand you are away from Monday so given developments presumably this weekend best? I have material which it is important for you to see. I will happily come to you.”

13 July 2018: 11:22: Sturgeon to Alex: “I’m supposedly on leave from Monday but not going away – I’ll be at home so could do next week if that’s easier (except Thursday/Friday). Weekend is a bit busy with one thing and another – late tomorrow
afternoon probably only time that works. Let me know what you prefer.”

13 July 2018: 14:03: Alex to Sturgeon: “Great – can we make it tomorrow late afternoon then – I am just rearranging something and will confirm asap.”

13 July 2018: 15:13: Alex to Sturgeon: “Tomorrow confirmed for late afternoon. – give me your best time and place. Thanks.”

13 July 2018: 15:56: Sturgeon to Alex: “It’ll have to be my house – I should be home by 4 so that’s best time. Just so you know, I have to go out again around 6.”

13 July 2018: 15:58: Alex to Sturgeon: “4 it is then.”

13 July 2018: 15:59: Sturgeon to Alex: “Ok”

14 July 2018: 15:45: Alex to Sturgeon: “Ten minutes away.”

14 Jul 2018: Alex met with Sturgeon at her home in Glasgow. There was no one else at this meeting. Sturgeon’s recollection of the meeting: The next contact between Mr Salmond and I was on 13 July 2018, which led to our third and final meeting being arranged for 14 July 2018 at my home. By this time, I was again anxious – as Party Leader and from the perspective of preparing my party for any potential public issue – to know whether his handling of the matter meant it was likely to become public in the near future. It was clear at the meeting that he was still seeking a process of arbitration around his concerns about the procedure. He had formed a belief that it was me who was blocking arbitration. I told him that was not the case and I was not involved in the decision. I also suggested to him that given their seriousness, he should engage on the substance of the complaints and not just focus on procedure

15 July 2018: 22:42: Alex to Sturgeon: “Many thanks for making the time yesterday. I am grateful that you will correct the impression being given that you are against arbitration or that it is somehow against your interests. I know that you need to reflect further on how to progress things beyond that and am not blind to the difficulty of legal advice being suspicious of arbitration. I am genuinely at a loss as to what the downside is for anyone, complainers, SG or me or you. The reasons given to date have been meaningless or more recently just a misrepresentation of your position. If there are good legal reasons then surely they can be set out for you/us. I will wait to hear how you are able to proceed. I am also giving much thought to your advice and thinking deeply about how arbitration on process might open up the space and opportunity to
address and resolve the underlying matters, as far as is possible, to everyone’s satisfaction.”

16 July 2018.” Letter from Evans to Alex providing him with information requested under a subject access request on 11 July 2018.

16 July 2018: 14:57: Alex to Sturgeon: “Message content redacted by the Parliament on basis of legal professional privilege of Alex Salmond.

16 July 2018: Sturgeon told the Holyrood Inquiry that she had told Evans of her 14 July 2018 meeting with Alex and the subsequent messages. She also made her aware of Alex’s belief that she was blocking arbitration. Given the risk of legal action, she did not want any suggestion that an opinion attributed to me (which I hadn’t expressed) was influencing decisions I had no part in. She reiterated to Evans that she must reach whatever decisions she considered appropriate.

18 July 2018: 20:50: Alex to Sturgeon: “T……. Redacted E…… Redacted”

18 July 2018: Evans wrote to Mr Callum Anderson Levy and McRae

“Thank you for your recent letters, in which you have raised your concern about the fairness of the Scottish Government Procedure. I want, first of all, to assure your client that I am approaching these important issues with the greatest of care and with an open mind. It remains the view of the Scottish Government that our Procedure is fair and legally sound. We have ensured from the outset that your client had every opportunity to provide a statement of his recollection of the events described in the “causes for concern” set out in my letter of 7 March 2018.

We granted a number of extensions to the initial deadline for such a statement to be provided. Your client was also offered the opportunity to speak to the Investigating Officer directly but he declined to do so. Your client has chosen not to provide a substantive response to the complaints made by Ms A and Ms B (causes for concern A – I) although he has made clear his denial that any harassment took place.

Your letter of 26 April 2018 included quotations “in short none of the allegations are admitted” and “I categorically deny that I have ever harassed any civil servant”. Although you continue to express concern about the overall fairness and legality of the Procedure your letter of 26 April 2018 did include a substantive response to causes for concern J – K.

That letter also identified 5 witnesses to be interviewed – limited to those causes for concern only. Contact information for those witnesses was provided by you on 8 May 2018. Witnesses were interviewed by the Investigating Officer and their statements were finally agreed by all parties by 28 June 2018 after a number of postponements and delays.

You have proposed arbitration in relation to the Procedure and explained why you consider it to be appropriate. The Scottish Government has explained in previous letters and in exchanges between legal representatives why we do not agree. However, for completeness and to ensure our position is understood we make the following points. First, we consider that we have given your client a fair opportunity to address the complaints, and that the procedure which we have followed is a fair one.

We do not consider that arbitration would be appropriate to the circumstances. This is an investigation of serious complaints made by civil servants involving a former Minister. Submitting the process to an external decision maker would not be appropriate. As the decision maker, I have to balance a range of interests, and to ensure a Procedure which is fair both to your client and to the complainers.

Arbitration of the SG process would not involve the complainers. As decision maker I have a duty to bring the investigation to a conclusion as efficiently and timeously as possible.

Arbitration would cause unavoidable further delay. However tightly a remit were drawn, it seems unlikely that it would be possible to separate the procedural points which you have raised from issues of substance or content in a way which would allow those procedural concerns to be addressed.

Your client has provided a substantive response to causes for concern J – K. However, it remains my view that his interests and those of the investigation as a whole would best be served by him providing a substantive response to each of the causes for concern – and it is a matter of regret that he has chosen not to do so.

Consequently I am offering your client, even at this late stage, a final opportunity to provide any further representations about the complaints made by Ms A and Ms B. Given the time that has elapsed since first notifying your client of the investigation you must confirm if your client wishes to take up this opportunity no later than 11 am on 19
July 2018.

Any further representations must be received by 3 pm on Friday, 20 July 2018 if they are to form part of my consideration. Should your client choose not to take up this final opportunity I shall proceed to consider the report on the basis of the information he has already provided and will write to you again to inform you of the outcome.

18 July 2018: 20:52: Alex to Sturgeon: “As you see the time allowed is tomorrow at 1100 hours.

18 July 2018: 1305: Sturgeon telephoned Alex at 13.05 hours to say that arbitration had been rejected and suggested that this was on the advice of the Law Officers. She urged him to submit a substantive rebuttal of the specific complaints against him and suggested that the general complaints already answered were of little consequence and would be dismissed, and then assured him that his submission would be judged fairly. She told him he would receive a letter from Evans offering him further time to submit such a rebuttal which duly arrived later that day.

As it turned out the rebuttal once submitted was given only cursory examination by MacKinnon in the course of a single day and she had already submitted her final report to the Permanent Secretary. Alex’s view was that it was believed that his submission of a rebuttal would weaken the case for Judicial Review (his involvement in rebutting the substance of the complaints being seen to cure the procedural unfairness) and that Sturgeon’s phone call of 18th July 2018 and Evans letter of the same date suggesting that it was in his ‘interests’ to submit a substantive response was designed to achieve just that. Nasty and unbecoming of senior officers of Government.

19 July 2018: Alex responded to Evans letter of 18 July 2018 stating that he would make further representations about the complaints by 1500 hours on 20 July 2018.

18 July 2018: MacKinnon advised Ms A that the final report was with Evans for decision. Note: The report comprised 212 pages, and the annex 8 pages.

20 July 2018: 22:37: Alex to Sturgeon: ” A full rebuttal of all complaints went in by the deadline today. Let us see how it is judged.”

20 July 2018: Alex wrote again to Evans making observations on the Scottish Government’s position on arbitration and on the unfairness of the process to date. A statement on concerns A to I was also attached.

22 July 2018: MacKinnon submitted her final report to Evans. Reduced to: 49 pages

23 July 2018: Ms A and Ms B were contacted to seek their response to Alex’s statement attached to his letter of 20 July 2018.

31 July 2018: Mackinnon informed the Holyrood Inquiry that she had met with the complainants at their request. “They were concerned about the impact on them, the potential impact on witnesses and others brought into that process, and they were concerned by the potential loss of anonymity and confidentiality that might come from [a referral to the police] which was not their intention, when they initially came forward.”

13 August 2018: Mackinnon contacted Ms A and Ms B to ask if they would cooperate in an investigation if the matter was referred to the police. They confirmed an earlier statement that they wanted to retain their anonymity and did not wish that course of action to be taken.

17 August 2018: Evans office sent a note from Evans to Sturgeon via her Principal Private Secretary. The note included reference to Sturgeon’s disclosure of 6 June 2018 to Evans which highlighted that Alex had made her aware of the investigation. The note indicated that Evans would inform Sturgeon of the outcome of the investigation once the complainers and Alex had been informed.

20 August 2018: Somers advised he would be in receipt of investigation documents in the morning

20 August 2018: An email from Evans to Sturgeon’s, Principal Private Secretary said that Alex Salmond and the complainers had been told that Evans would write to them the following day on the outcome of the investigation.

20 August 2018: MacKinnon spoke to both complainers and advised them that their complaints would probably be referred to the police.

20 August 2018: MacKinnon met with the Crown Agent (having also communicated with him, on 17 and 19 August 2018) and committed the transfer to his office of all documentation pertaining to the complaints and any decision.

Comment: What the hell!! before a decision is even made!!!!

20 August 2018: Evans decided on the complaints then sent all information pertaining to the investigation and her decision to Richards who forwarded the entire package to the Crown agent Harvie together with the request that he pass it on to the police for their action. She also alerted Ms B to events and told her to expect a call from the police very soon.

21 August 2018: At a meeting convened by Harvie to discuss matters for investigation of criminality with CC Livingstone and DCS Boal, he told them that his line manager Leslie Evans had forwarded him her decision on complaints made by two civil servants against Alex for referral to the police, despite the complainers against Alex wanting to keep the police out of the matter. He further advised that Evans had decided to make a public statement on Alex’s case including a notice that the matter had been passed to Police Scotland for investigation. DCS Boal strongly advised against it and refused to accept a copy of the internal misconduct investigation report. The terse exchange of views confirmed the urgent desire of the Scottish Government to get the information into the public domain.

Detective Chief Superintendent Lesley Boal told the Holyrood Inquiry

“Harvie passed on what he considered were relevant statements, although they were “more a series of listed questions and responses from anonymised individuals. He told me two individuals had made formal complaints, but that there may be other potential complainers who had not engaged in the internal conduct investigation. It was agreed that a proactive approach would be required whereby other persons who held similar roles may need to be approached. Harvie offered me a copy of the Scottish Government’s internal conduct conclusion report, which contained detailed allegations. I refused this offer and neither I, nor the Chief Constable, viewed the document. I was also informed that Scottish Government may be making a public statement in relation to the outcome of their investigation and potentially to refer to information being provided to Police Scotland. Both the Chief Constable and I both voiced our concerns at such a statement being provided. As such, it was agreed that the main priority was to make contact with the two individuals who had made a complaint to the Scottish Government.”


An interesting aside was the comment from Alex when he was told about Crown Agent Harvie’s meeting with the Police. Referring to the leak, he said:

“Evans was asked about that in questioning, and she said that it had caused enormous distress to everyone concerned. I am absolutely sure that it did – to the complainants, to me, to everybody. The only question that I would have for Evans is this: Notwithstanding the leak, what did she think would have happened if she had gone ahead and put out the statement at 5 o’clock on that day? “I find it extraordinary.”

21 August 2018: Evans office contacted Alex to say that Evans was not in a position to write on the outcome of the investigation. Evans office was asked for an explanation of the delay by Alex.

Mackinnon contacted Ms A and Ms B to say that a police referral was likely to occur that day.

So they were advised of Evans decision 2 days before she told Alex.

22 August 2018: Ms A and Ms B, Alex and Sturgeon were each provided with a copy of Evans Decision Report. Ms A and Ms B spoke to Evans in private.

22 August 2018: Alex ‘s legal team wrote very strongly worded letters each to Evans and Sturgeon advising both of them that the actions they had instructed and decided upon was illegal, contrary to good staff relations and breached every statute of employment Law

23 August 2018: Evans further informed them that she had forwarded all case documentation to the Lord Advocate’s office. Alex’s counsel objected with an added observation that her actions were without foundation and a breach of protocol.

23 August 2018: Evans advised Sturgeon that a FOI request had been received in mid- June 2018. An answer was due mid-July and had been deferred but she had decided that the information requested would be released and a press statement would be released at 1700 hours (despite Alex objecting). See 18 June 2018 and 20 September 2018.

Comment: Evans surrendered the investigation of allegations against Alex to the Police 2 days before she advised him and the 2 complaiants of her intent to press on with an unnecessary reply to an outstanding FOI request, when she knew the enquirer had left the employ of the newspaper and there was no furher interest. Her threat to go public at 1700 hours was always an empty one since this would have been construed to be interfering in a Police investigation.

The whistleblower had to be a member of a very small inner circle group of senior officers close to Evans to be aware that the threat to go public at 1700 hours was a bluff and determined the work they and others had put into destroying Alex would not be kicked into the long grass decided to release information to the Daily Record. The act of releasing confidential information was criminal since it was interfering with a police investigation and the police, not the Scottish Government, should have conducted their own enquires which would have necessitated issuing an order to the Editor of the Daily Record to hand over the illegally gathered informaton. There is precedence in law for this.

23 August 2018: At around 1600 hours the Daily Record newspaper telephoned the Scottish Government press office and claimed it had knowledge of the allegations against Alex but they would not publish without confirmation. This was not forthcoming from the Scottish government.

23 August 2018: The Scottish Government paused the FOI release and the public statement because of the interim interdict issue. At around 1900 hours Alex noted that the interim interdict was not being sought that evening as he had not been approached by the press. The issue was still live however to address future publication and the determination on the interim interdict was dependent on court availability.

23 August 2018: During the course of the afternoon Alex indicated to the Scottish Government that he had instructed his senior counsel to draft judicial review proceedings against Evans decision and that he had lodged a petition seeking orders including interim interdict preventing publication of the complaints, the facts of the complaint, the process or the decision.

23 August 2018: Alex wrote to Evans and to Sturgeon complaining about Evans breach of protocol which compromised confidentiality and gave a reminder of their and the Civil Service’s duty of confidentiality in all matters.

23 August 2018: 2000 hours an employee of the Daily Record telephoned the Press Office claiming confirmation of the leaked information had been received and the story would be published that night. The story broke at 2200 hours.

23 August 2018: Alex was also contacted by the Daily Record to indicate that it intended carrying a story in the next morning edition. He was given a deadline of 2200 hours to respond. He provided a statement in response. Just before 2200 hours, an article was published on the Daily Record website about the complaints. Around 2230 hours Alex contacted Evans office to state that he had been approached by the Daily Record and had issued a statement. His email raised concerns about the level of detail which the Daily Record had on the complaints and he asked for a formal investigation into how the information ended up in the public domain. His email also noted that his ability to seek an interim interdict had been undermined and that he would move to a Judicial Review.

Afternote: From Liz Lloyd’s written statement: On the afternoon of 23 August 2018 the Scottish government News Desk received an enquiry about Alex from the Daily Record. They brought it to the attention of Sturgeon’s through Lloyd and Evans office through a private secretary. Lloyd advised that the enquiry should be shared with the Scottish Government Legal Directorate whose view was that Alex’s legal representatives should be informed to enable him to take any action he saw fit. This was done.

24 August 2018: The Daily Record article stated. We contacted Salmond uncovering compelling evidence that official complaints were made against him. At 2132 his Lawyer responded by email. It contents were startling

Acting on a tip off, we submitted a series of questions to the Scottish Government on 31 October 2017 in a bid to ascertain if any complaints had been made about Alex Salmond during his tenure as first minister. The answer came back that no ministers had been the subject of an official complaint since the SNP came to power in 2007 and that there were no live investigations. We continued to look into the allegations about Salmond over the following months but were not able to establish anything that met the legal and ethical threshold for publication.

However, that changed this week when we uncovered fresh and compelling evidence that official complaints against Salmond had been made by two female staff members. On Thursday 23 August 2018 , we managed to establish with confidence that Scottish Government officials had conducted an internal probe into the matter and decided to pass on to police details of allegations that amounted to sexual assault. Realising the importance of the story, we contacted the Scottish Government and asked for comment shortly before 1600 hours. When the Scottish Government finally responded to our request at 1919 hours it was with a short comment saying they couldn’t “currently” comment on the situation for legal reasons. This was extremely unusual from a government that claimed to be committed to openness and transparency when dealing with such issues and had previously freely shared information about similar complaints.

We also made a similar call to Police Scotland to get an update on any criminal investigation. But a strange thing happened next The police response was equally curious. They said they would not be commenting on whether or not they were investigating. Newspapers are used to getting scant information or flat denials from Police Scotland. But this was the first time anyone at the Record could remember the force refusing to confirm or deny the very existence of an investigation.

A mixture of legal advice and our reporter’s sources quickly determined that it was likely Salmond and the Scottish Government were embroiled in some kind of legal dispute on the issue. As improbable as it seemed, we began to suspect the former first minister was in the process of taking the Scottish Government he used to lead to court. With the time now 2000 hours and the Record’s print deadline looming, we contacted Salmond by telephone and asked for his response to the original allegations. In a terse conversation, the former SNP leader requested we put the allegations in writing via email. We duly did so. Time ticked on. Meanwhile we underwent detailed discussions with our lawyers and decided that we were confident our story was accurate and we would publish, regardless of what, if any, response Salmond gave us. Then at 2132 hours an emailed response arrived from Salmond’s lawyer. Its contents were startling. The statement confirmed Salmond was taking the Scottish Government to court following the complaints, arguing that he had been denied the chance to properly challenge the accusations, which he denies.

The dam had broken and the Record had successfully ensured the existence of a Scottish Government investigation into alleged sexual misconduct by a former first minister would finally be made public. Our exclusive story was posted on the Daily Record website within minutes and was leading the TV and radio news bulletins within the hour.


The Daily Record version of events reveals narrows down the list of names of possible whistle-blowers.

31 October 2017: The Daily Record advised that its initial enquiry on the Scottish Government (which revealed nothing) was generated through a tip off. This rings true since that was the “fishing trip” day when a number of SNP officials spent a deal of time on the phone seeking to gather any gossip they could which would be damaging to Alex. So in the absence of any tittle tattle there was no perceived need to continue sleuthing, but Clegg persisted with his efforts over nearly 12 months. Someone in Governmnent was keeping him informed

20 August 2018: Evans decided on the complaints then sent all information pertaining to the investigation and her decision to Nicola Richards who forwarded the entire package to the Lord Advocates Office together with a request that it be passed on to the police for action. There was no provision in the procedures for the foregoing since the Lord Advocates Office forms part of the Scottish Government.

21 August 2018: Richards wrote to Ms A and Ms B advising them of the actions the Scottish Government had taken together with a briefing that they should expect the police to contact them on 22 August 2018 or shortly after.

22 August 2018: The Crown Agent, took possession from the Lord Advocate, of the documentation sent to the Lord Advocates Office by Richards. Then, in the course of a hastily arranged meeting he attempted to hand the package of documents to the police together with a request that they formally investigate the allegations as a criminal matter. The police declined the request and refused the offer of the documentation.. They would not be involved. The Daily Record’s informant was not evidently advised of the police refusal and this reduces the number of likely whistle-blowers substantially. Who knew???

23 August 2018: At around 1600 hours the Daily Record newspaper telephoned the Scottish Government press office and claimed it had knowledge of the allegations against Alex but they would not publish without confirmation. This was not forthcoming from the Scottish government.

23 August 2018: the Daily Record then telephoned the police and asked for an update on the criminal investigation of Alex. Evidently they were not aware at the time that the police had refused the Crown Agent’s invitation to get involved.

23 August -29 August 2018: Alex held a press conference and announced he would move to a Judicial Review of the procedure. Panic in the Scottish Government. A very concerned Ms B wrote to Richards enquiring about the whistleblowing illegal release of confidential information to the Daily Record and the impact of the Judicial Review. She was advised that investigation into the whistle blowing had not identified any individual but they were not yet at an end. Richards told her not to be unduly concerned about the Judicial Review since the police had the information in their possession and their investigations would “sist” bypass any Judicial review.

23 August 2018: A follow up story was published in the morning edition of the Daily Record containing details that could only have come from leaked documents demonstrating that their informant had access to Evans Decision Report or an extract from it. The leaking of the information was a prima facie criminal act, deeply damaging to the interests of Alex and a blatant invasion of the privacy of the complainants as well as a direct contravention of the assurances of confidentiality given to all.

23 August 2018: The unsavoury events of the day before when coupled with the leaking of confidential information pertaining to the unfounded allegations against Alex and its publication in the press sparked the ire of Alex and his legal team and their well judged pointed response really did hit Evans and her team of Dim Dum’s hard.

24 August 2018: Sturgeon posted a statement on Twitter:

25 August 2018: Alex issued a public statement in which he complained that confidential information about the probe had been maliciously leaked to the media and reiterated that his previous statements held true that he had not sexually harassed anyone.

26 August 2018: Sturgeon continued with her attacks on Alex with another twitter:

26 August 2018: The Sunday Post published a front page article informing readers that the Scottish Government’s legal advisor David Harvie, from the office of the Lord Advocate, James Wolffe, had advised that sexual misconduct claims against Alex should be passed to the police. But it withheld the contrary information that the police had rejected the approach on the grounds that the internal investigation ordered by Sturgeon was not yet complete and there was no precedent that would support the involvement of the office of the Lord Advocate or the police. The article also included spurious gossip not in the public domain at that time stating that in addition to the two complaints being investigated by Evans, there were civil servants other than the complainants who had registered allegations against Alex Salmond.

Lord Wolffe told the Holyrood inquiry he was not party to the advice and he had not been informed of the intervention beforehand by his officers. Confirmation David Harvie acted alone.

27 August 2018: Alex’s Senior Counsel wrote to Evans and asked her to instigate a formal inquiry into how the allegations against Alec had been released into the public domain. Giving voice that: “in this case confidentiality has been broken greatly to his detriment and in a way which puts at serious risk the anonymity of both complainants. It urgently needs to be established who breached that duty of confidence and why.” An investigation was ordered.

For readers who might be confused: Woman A in the Mackinnon investigation became Woman F in the criminal trial: Woman B in the Mackinnon investigation became Woman K in the criminal trial: Woman H in the criminal trial, as far as I know, played no part at all in the Mackinnon investigation as her complaint in around October/November 2017 was to the SNP Compliance Officer who agreed with her that he would sit on it and use it as necessary. It became a police complaint some time after August 2018 when Evans notified the police prompting Alex to launch his Judicial Review action and the conspirators got busy drumming up all the complainers they could. These events are explored some detail here:

27 August 2018: Allison sent an unsolicited email to a former Scottish Government employee who also received a further unsolicited email from Ms Ruddick of the SNP the following day. The individual concerned, who provided a defence statement, had never even been a member of the SNP. Her contact details were given to Allison by a Government Special Adviser. Another Special Adviser was in contact with the majority of people who thereafter became complainants in the criminal trial, shortly after the story being leaked to the Daily Record on August 23rd 2018

The Allison email: August 27, 2018 at 0746: I am not sure if you will remember me. I was Director of People/HR at the time you worked with Scottish Government. I hope that this finds you well. You may be aware that there has been considerable media coverage here over the past few days in connection with Alex Salmond. We are aware that this coverage has been quite upsetting for some people and we are keen to support in any way we can. Your name and email address has been provided by a current employee at the Scottish Government, noting that you were someone who worked with Scottish Government previously and they were keen to ensure that you were offered any support you may require. I would be very happy to have a chat by phone or by email and put you in touch with the various support channels if that would be helpful. Kind regards Barbara Allison. Talk about fishing expeditions

Comment: And yet in her evidence to the Holyrood Inquiry on 15th September 2020 Allison specifically denied that the Scottish Government had any role in contacting potential witnesses or former civil servants after the police investigation had started on August 23rd 2018.

27 August 2018: Sturgeon circulated an email to 100,000 SNP members. Despite her best efforts to recruit complainers to her cause not one complaint was received in response.

27 August 2018: A second more explicit email was selectively circulated by the SNP Chief Operating Officer Sue Ruddick, to a smaller number of potentially supportive SNP staffers and ex staffers. It was not well received and provoked profound disquiet about the ethics and legality of the approach. An SNP official based in Westminster refused to get caught up in the fishing expedition and refused to supply “names” expressing the view that she was not prepared to take part in an obvious ‘witch-hunt’ which would be incompatible with her professional responsibilities as a lawyer.

29 August 2018: Alex resigned from the SNP having begun legal proceedings against the Scottish government for its conduct over an investigation into claims of sexual harassment against him. Flatly rejecting the allegations. he said claims by the Daily Record breached confidentiality and it: “It urgently needs to be established who breached that duty of confidence and why adding I did not come into politics to facilitate opposition attacks on the SNP, and have decided to resign to “clear my name” and prevent “substantial internal division” within the SNP.

31 August 2018: MacKinnon wrote to Ms A and Ms B advising that contrary to expectations a Judicial Review had been instructed and they would need to await the outcome which could be a while.

Afternote: In addition to advocating the “pressurising” of police Murrell deployed his senior staff to recruit and persuade staff and ex staff members to submit police complaints. An activity that was co-ordinated with Special Advisers and was occurring after the police investigation had started. From the description of the material released to the Committee it is clear that any supporting evidence establishing this point was not shared by the Crown Office with the Committee. Why?

It was clear that defeat in the Judicial Review would have severe consequences. Cabinet Ministers thought it should lead to the resignation of Evans. Lloyd, the Special Adviser most associated with the policy believed that her job was in jeopardy and accordingly sought to change press releases in light of that.

Sturgeon’s team felt threatened by the process as did the civil service. The documentary evidence shows that Special Advisers were using Civil Servants and working with SNP officials in a fishing expedition to recruit potential complainants. This activity occurred between late August 2018 and January 2019, after the police investigation had started.

The Judicial Review cannot be viewed in isolation. The effect of it, and its likely result of a defeat for the Scottish Government led to the need to escalate these matters to the police, even if that meant doing so entirely against the wishes of the two women who had raised concerns.

Evans: “we’ve lost the battle but not the war’ message of 08 January 2019 sent to Allison whilst she was on holiday in the Maldives was not (as she tried to claim) a general appeal for equality but rather showed her knowledge that there were further proceedings to come and her confidence that the criminal procedure would render such a loss in the Court of Session irrelevant.

The Internal Misconduct Investigation Report

The response of the Scottish government to the illegal leak of confidential information to the Daily Record is contained in a report which was classified “strictly confidential” with distribution restricted to a few senior government officials. A few, heavily redacted but informative extracts were released for public consumption through the Information Commissioners Office (ICO).


3.5 To progress the investigation, a witness would be needed who would be willing to provide information about the method of disclosure (for example, by hard copy being passed in person) and the identity of the culprit.

3.6 The Daily Record declined to provide information as to how or by whom they came by the copy of the report, relying on the journalistic exemption within the DPA 2018, clause 14 of the Editors Code of Practice and s.10 of the Contempt of Court Act 1981.

3.7 23 members of staff were identified as having knowledge of, or involvement in, the internal misconduct enquiry. These members of staff were interviewed by the Data Protection Officer at the SG as part of their Data Handling Review. The interviews did not disclose any information which would enable a suspect to be identified.

3.8 In the absence of any information coming to light, or any witness coming forward, there was insufficient evidence to point to any specific suspect and to allow the investigation to move forward. The matter was closed.

Editors code of Conduct

  1. Accuracy:

i) The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information, including headlines not supported by the text.

ii) The Press, while free to editorialise and campaign, must distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact.

  1. Privacy

i) Everyone is entitled to respect for his or her private and family life, home, health and correspondence, including digital communications.

ii) Editors will be expected to justify intrusions into any individual’s private life without consent. Account will be taken of the complainant’s own public disclosures of information.

  1. Harassment:

(i) Journalists must not engage in intimidation, harassment or persistent pursuit.

Comment: What a can of worms!!.

The police were not asked by the Scottish government to investigate the 23 August 2018, criminal leak of confidential information.

This despite the Daily Record blatantly breaching rules 1,2 and 3 of the editor’s “code of conduct”.

That the Daily Record was permitted to decline, (without a legal challenge), to provide information as to how or by whom they came by the copy of the report, relying on the journalistic exemption within the DPA 2018, clause 14 of the Editors Code of Practice and s.10 of the Contempt of Court Act 1981 is a travesty of justice and a betrayal of the 2 complainants and Alex Salmond.

David Clegg’s Version of Events

“In the afternoon of 23 Aug 2018 I was working in a quiet corner of a Dundee coffee shop when I received the most memorable email of my life. It was from the Daily Record’s head of news, Kevin Mansi, and contained just five words and a picture. “Anon letter that’s come in.”

The unremarkable introduction meant I nearly spat out my coffee when my phone loaded the attachment, a scanned copy of a 100-word document which had arrived at the newspaper’s Glasgow office that morning.

The contents, headlined “Scottish Government reports Salmond to police”, were absolutely incendiary. An anonymous whistle-blower was claiming that two women had made sexual misconduct complaints against the former first minister.

The government had investigated the allegations before passing them to the police. A summary of the most serious charge was also included. It described an alleged late night sexual assault by Alex on a young female civil servant.

The claims were so extraordinary that the natural reaction was to dismiss them as the work of a crank. Yet on an initial reading my instinct was that several elements of the document seemed authentic. The dry language used to summarise alleged behaviour that would ultimately become a criminal charge of sexual assault with intent to rape could only have been penned by a civil servant.

The small details also felt right – in particular the use of the three letters FFM to describe Alex. It was an abbreviation for former first minister that would mean nothing to the general public but which I had heard many times in political circles.

On balance, my judgment was that it was entirely plausible that the account was genuine. It was also safe to assume that if it wasn’t a hoax then we were in a race against time to break the story. If this information had reached us, it would not be long until other media organisations also got wind of it.

For all we knew, a similar package could have arrived at the office of every newspaper in the country that morning. We had to proceed with speed, caution and care. I immediately left the café and sprinted the half-mile back to my house.

The race was now on to verify the accuracy of the information independently so we could publish regardless of on-the-record confirmation. All the journalists involved were acutely aware that the slightest inaccuracy in any subsequent story could have disastrous consequences.

I began methodically contacting sources who had been useful in recent months in the hope they could provide further corroboration. Tellingly, I found I was unable to get any senior Scottish Government special adviser to answer their phone. Meanwhile, Mansi worked his extensive police contacts.

It was not until 2000 hours that we had enough confidence in our information to contact Alex directly to give him the opportunity to present his version of events.

I was in my small home office when I dialled his mobile number and heard that distinctive voice click onto the line. I had last seen Alex the previous year when I took him for a long lunch in Glasgow two weeks after he lost his Westminster seat.

His tone was much colder on this occasion. “Yes, David, what can I do for you?” he asked. My heart was pounding as I replied: “We’re doing a story on the allegation the police are looking at. Should I be speaking to a lawyer, or is there a comment I should take from you?”

There was a long pause. “And which allegation is this, David?” “The one from December 2013 at Bute House.” “And what’s the detail of it, sorry, David?” “That a staff member at Bute House was harassed or assaulted after a function.”

In the terse three minute conversation that followed Alex avoided being drawn on the substance of the complaints and focused on fishing for more information on the status of the police investigation and inquiring into who was the source of the story. He also asked for the allegations to be put to him in writing, a request I duly obliged.

With the Record’s print deadline looming, an urgent conference call was convened to discuss whether to publish in the event of no substantive response to the details of the allegations being received from the Scottish government, Police Scotland or Alex. This was a big call for the new editor David Dick, who had only been in the post a few months and was now dealing with the biggest story any Scottish newspaper had tackled in living memory. After a brief discussion, he decided he was happy for us to proceed and I began writing.

At 2132 hours an email from Alex’s lawyer, David McKie of Levy & McRae, dropped into my inbox. Its contents were breath-taking. He did not dispute the existence of the allegations or even make a threat of defamation action. Instead, he warned that publication would be a breach of privacy and cited the recent high profile finding against the BBC regarding coverage of the police investigation into pop legend Sir Cliff Richard. An accompanying statement from Alex insisted he was completely innocent of any wrong doing and would fight to clear his name and he would be taking the Scottish Government to court over its botched handling of sexual harassment complaints.

Comment 1: A Daily Record employee had already telephoned the Scottish government press office at 2000 claiming confirmation of the accuracy of the leaked information had been received. Clegg’s assertion that he had been contacted by Alex’s legal team at 2132 hours did not impact on the decision by the editor of the Daily Record to publish.

Comment 2: Clegg’s singular and persistent unfruitful pursuit over many months, seeking from Scottish government employees and civil servants, information that would be damaging to Alex was in direct contravention of a number of the conditions contained in the news editor’s “code of Practice”. As was the inaccurate reporting of fact evidenced by the malicious and irresponsible headline claiming that Alex had been reported to the police over sexual assault allegations which was not the case.

The truth of the matter is that on 21 August 2018 the Crown Agent, according to the police informed them of the Government’s intention to release a story of the fact of the complaints to the press and the Chief Constable and another senior officer strongly advised against it and refused to accept a copy of the internal misconduct investigation report.

An exchange of views confirming the urgent desire of the Scottish Government to get the information into the public domain.

Just two days later, on Thursday 23 August 2018, without informing the police of their decision to ignore their advice not to do so the Government informed Alex Salmond’s legal team of its intention to release a statement at 1700 hours. Alex ’s legal team advised in return that they would interdict the statement pending the outcome of the Judicial Review petition and the government withdrew its intent to publish information to the public. An interdict was not processed on the strength of the government undertaking.

The bombshell was dropped at 1600 hours with the information that the Daily Record newspaper had phoned the Scottish Government press office with knowledge of the story but without confirmation it could not publish. Confirmation was not forthcoming from the Scottish government.

Then, at 2000 hours an employee of the Daily Record telephoned claiming confirmation of the leaked information had been received and the story would be published that night. The story broke at 2200 hours.

A follow up story was published on Saturday 25 August 2018 containing specific details from the leaked complaints demonstrating that their informant had access to the Permanent Secretary’s decision report or an extract from it.

The leaking of the information was a prima facie criminal act, deeply damaging to the interests of Alex and a blatant invasion of the privacy of the complainants as well as a direct contravention of the assurances of confidentiality given to all.

The conclusion of the legal authority who assessed validity of the complaints was that they were “sympathetic to the thesis that the leak came from a Government employee”. But legal action action could only be instructed if the police investigated matters and identified the person(s) who leaked the information.

David Harvie Crown Agent

Lockerbie is one of a number of powerful reasons the finger of accusation singles out David Harvie as the Scottish government leak.

Anyone who has researched the Lockerbie Case will be familiar with the work of the Scottish Crown office’s David Harvie who was seconded to the Lockerbie criminal trial team during the Zeist trial. In truth, it is no exaggeration to claim that Harvie is to Lockerbie what Deep Throat is to Watergate. So when some Lockerbie experts claim today that they have never heard of David Harvie, you have to ask yourself. Why??


31 August 2018: The petition for judicial review was formally lodged by Alex.

29 August 2018-January 2019: A “sink the judicial review” committee comprised of senior Government and Crown Office managers was formed. It met 17 times. Confirmation of the existence of the committee and its meetings was provided in the evidence to the Inquiry of former legal director Paul Cackette who said there had been daily meetings, while Mackinnon said they occurred three times a week during this period.

The Holyrood Inquiry requested copies of the official records of the meetings and correspondence but they were not produced and it was conjectured they had not been retained or had been destroyed. Why? Positive deniability. If the judicial review would be lost there should be no evidence of involvement of officers of the Crown Office in a “sisting”process.

This is what Lloyd told the Holyrood Inquiry: In the case of my interactions this was often in relation to the handling of and preparation for media, public and parliamentary interest in the Judicial Review as well as to provide views and input on behalf of ministers who were respondents alongside the Permanent Secretary and the First Minister who had been named as an interested party in Mr Salmond’s petition12. The Permanent Secretary’s letter of 09 September provides links to published information regarding my attendance at 3 of the 17 Scottish Government meetings with counsel on the issue of the Judicial Review. I attended the meetings on 25 October 2018 and 02 and 13th November 2018. Statement here:

14 September 2018: The Police force issued a public statement advising that it had launched an investigation into the complaints against Alex. This was entirely separate from the government’s investigation and the judicial review process. Op Diem would bypass the Judicial Review.

Operation Diem – The Crown Office the “sisting” process and bypassing the Judicial Review

D.C.S. Lesley Boal, was appointed lead officer of a Police Scotland enquiry furnished with unlimited financial reources to establish whether there was any criminality on the part of Alex. She had command of a team of 14 full-time experienced police detectives. The team carried out 386 interviews over a period of 2 years at the end of which Alex was charged with 14 offences of which he was subsequently cleared in the High Court.

Chief ­Constable Iain Livingstone, told Holyrood’s Public Audit Committee that: “A small dedicated team worked on Operation Diem from Fettes Police Station, Edinburgh, between August 2018 and April 2020. It was comprised of seven ­officers from August 2018 rising to a maximum of 14 during the months between October 2018 and July 2019 before steadily reducing in 2020. The indicative cost of this staffing ­profile is just over £810,000. In addition, there were non-staff costs captured in respect of operation Diem totalling just over £24,000.” And his report proved to be wishful thinking. The final cost was nearer to £1million and this only covered the police investigation.

Evans attempted to trigger a police investigation when on 22 August 2018, she contravened her own recently adopted Government procedures and a pending Interim Interdict to report the outcome of internal Scottish Government harassment ­allegations involving Alec, to the Lord Advocate’s Office, against the will of the women involved, claiming that she had balanced their ­objections with “potential criminality”.

21 August 2018: The Lord Advocate’s Office instructed the Crown Office Chief ­Executive David Harvie, to order the police force to ­investigate the allegations against Alex. Which they accepted. This presented a very tight deadline in which to circumvent the Judicial Review which took effect on 01 August 2018.

Comment: Op Diem was conceived by unidentified colluding forces who needed Alex to be out of Scotland’s politics. His threatened political to come back early in November 2017, sparked a smear campaign designed to thwart his ambitions (Edinburgh Airport and the sudden interest by Sky News in a non- story over 8 years old). When this failed to take off the forces of evil escalated their campaign to the next stage. A new illegal complaints Procedure extended to former ministers not covered by the ministerial code and therefore bonkers and totally impractical. And when failed (the Judicial Review scuppered them. And not only that, they were forced to pay Alec’s costs, around £600,000. Did they give up. Not on your nellie. They launched the biggest and most expensive police hunt in the recent history of Scotland, and built a criminal case against Alex, constructed on a flummery of weak accusations. A total waste of taxpayers’ money.

20 September 2018: The Scottish government formally notified the Court of Session that it would contest the judicial review brought against it by Alex.

20 September 2018: Sent: Answer to the 18 June 2018 FOI request: From:

The information provided related to a question submitted to the Scottish government by Labour MSP Monica Lennon, who is a champion of LGBTQ activists. In November 2017, she went public with how she was sexually assaulted by a Labour colleague at a party in 2013, while other colleagues brushed off the incident. Following revelations of similar incidents within the Party, she argued that the Party and British politics had an institutional problem with sexual assault and harassment that needed to be urgently addressed. This explains the question she asked in Holyrood. Which was:

Question: S5W-18396: To ask the Scottish government whether it will provide the information it holds on how many complaints it has received relating to sexual assault or sexual harassment by (a) Minsters, (b) Special Advisers and (c) its staff, since 1999. How many complaints have been upheld; how many cases have been referred to the police and whether anyone has been disciplined or dismissed following these complaints.

The Scottish government answer: As an employer, the Scottish government does not make determinations about whether the nature of a complaint constitutes a sexual assault as that is rightly a matter for police Scotland to determine. We do not therefore have a record of any complaints that have been recorded as “sexual assault”. In response to part (a), between 1999 and the end of 2017 the Scottish government holds no recorded complaints of this nature against Ministers. That should have ended the response from the Scottish government but its reply was then extended to include information unrelated to the request: which was about complaints of sexual assault or sexual harassment!!!!!”

“In January 2018, the Scottish government received two harassment complaints relating to Alex Salmond. These complaints were considered under a Scottish government procedure for Handling Harassment Complaints Involving Current or Former Ministers. For legal reasons the Scottish government cannot provide further information.

28 September 2018: The start of the SNP senior management team’s month’s long concentrated efforts canvassing and encouraging complaints from Party members and officials. Messages between Chief Executive Peter Murrell, Compliance Officer Iain McCann and Chief Operating Officer Sue Ruddick surfaced. In a message from McCann to Ruddick, sent on 28 September 2018, a month after the police started their investigation of a potential criminal case against Alex, McCann expressed great disappointment to Ruddick that someone who had promised to deliver five complainants to him by the end of the week had come up empty or ‘overreached’ as he put it. And either MsA or Ms B said to Ruddick she was ‘feeling pressurised by the whole thing rather than supported’

5 November 2018: The Edinburgh Airport fishing expedition

And what of the identity of the person that instructed the police in Edinburgh to drop all current business and send an investigating team to Edinburgh Airport on or about 5 December 2018, with a remit to dig up any information that would be damming to Alex with particular reference to opening an investigation into allegations made without foundation some 10 years before.

No one in the Scottish government or the SNP carried the clout needed to order the police to do anything and they had previously advised a need for caution leaving the Crown Office as the only other place staffed with officers of the seniority required.

But Evans breached protocol when on or about 21 August 2018, she copied all information pertaining to her investigations to the office of the Lord Advocate James Wolffe.

The order to the police originated with the Lord Advocate’s right hand man Law Officer, David Harvie.

The conflated airport story became public when it was published in the Daily Record on 12 November 2018. Clegg refuted allegations of inappropriate conduct and the Daily Record editor refused to release any information about the person who had provided the confidential government information to the paper.

The police were informed that the Edinburgh airport ‘incident’ was an occasion when Alex had made an inopportune pun about ‘killer heels’ at the time the stiletto heels of an embarrassed female member of staff had set off the security scanner gate alarm. This had been reported as a sexist comment in the context of a staff/management dispute about the formal dress requirements of female air hostesses staff. That was it. ‘Killer heels’. A joke. No charge arose from this substantial waste of police time…”.

Alex’s former bodyguard and driver Roger Cherry, also defended him against the airport pest slurs and said the accusations were unfounded tittle tattle.

06 November 2018: Alex legal challenge over how the Scottish government handled sexual harassment allegations against him was called to court for the first time. Alex’s argument is that he was given no opportunity to “see and therefore properly challenge the case against him”, and that he had “not been allowed to see the evidence”. The Scottish Government contended Alex had been informed about the allegations and his argument had no relevance as a matter of law. A four-day hearing was scheduled to be held at the Court of Session in Edinburgh starting on 15 January 2019. Op Diem a separate police investigation into the allegations is ongoing and will not be affected by the judicial review, which focuses entirely on the government’s processes.

13 November 2018: at 13.55, A Scottish Government official whose name was redacted emailed senior counsel Roddy Dunlop QC to confirm that day’s emergency consultation with the First Minister. The official confirmed that the meeting was set for 1645 hours and continued: “Evans, Lloyd, Richards and Somers from Sturgeon’s Private Office will also be there.” The foregoing confirms that Somers was involved in the judicial review in any meaningful sense of the word.

13 September 2019: The Scottish Government published their response to the following question submitted under the Freedom of Information (FOI) provisions:

A list of meetings with the Scottish Government Counsel defending the Judicial Review petitioned by Mr Alex Salmond and attended by any one or more of the following – Nicola Sturgeon, Leslie Evans, Judith McKinnon, Elizabeth Lloyd and the Lord Advocate.

Meetings attended by Scottish Government Counsel and one or more of the specified persons on or after the JR proceedings were initiated took place on the following dates:

23 August 2018, 04 September 2018, 11 September 2018, 27 September 2018, 19 October 2018, 23 October 2018, 25 October 2018, 2 November 2018, 13 November 2018, 10 December 2018, 18 December 2018, 19 December 2018, 02 January 2019, 03 January 2019 (3 meetings), 07 January 2019. (Total 17)

For the meeting on 13 November 2018, the answer was: “13 November 2018: Sturgeon, Lloyd, Evans.” No mention of Somers. Why was his name withheld?

Sturgeon’s evidence to the Holyrood Inquiry

03 March 2021: Sturgeon gave evidence about the meeting.

Murdo Fraser: We know you attended a meeting with counsel on 13 November 2018. Who was at that meeting and what was discussed?

Sturgeon: Clearly, I was at the meeting, as were senior and junior counsel, Evans and Lloyd. I think that SGLD was represented, as well. I requested the meeting; it was part of what I thought was the proper thing to do. Again No mention of Somers.

Murdo Fraser: Why are there no notes or minutes of this and other meetings? No answer!!!

08 March 2021: John Swinney rallied to Sturgeon’s rescue with a letter to the Inquiry advising:

“My letter of 5 March 2021 confirmed that the Scottish Government does not hold formal minutes of meetings with Counsel during the Judicial Review and, in response to the clerks’ follow-up question, we have not identified any record of minutes having been prepared or previously held by the Scottish Government.

“I asked officials to check what documents are available, prioritising the meetings on 2 and 13 November 2018, which the Committee has highlighted. Officials have identified a small number of contemporaneous email exchanges referencing these meetings. This includes exchanges following the meeting on 02 November 2018 and emails ahead of the meeting on 13 November 2018. The exchanges make clear that the focus of the meetings was on discussing and agreeing with external Counsel adjustments to the pleadings for the judicial review. I have asked officials to urgently … publish these email exchanges as soon as possible this week.” Still no mention of Somers. Why?

18 December 2018: The Judicial Review: Lloyd was asked by the Holyrood Inquiry to explain her role in matters arising from the time the Judicial Review was put in place. She stated:

I confirm to the committee that I had no involvement in the decision to settle the Judicial Review and no involvement in the cost of the settlement. I was not involved in any general discussions or meetings on either matter and had no
discussion with either the Permanent Secretary or any Scottish Government minister on those decisions prior to them being taken.

I first became aware on the afternoon of 14 December 2018 that an order had been granted in relation to documents. I was informed on 23 December 2018 of the existence of the document commission hearings part of the Judicial Review, but had no personal involvement and hold no information in relation to it. I can also confirm that I hold no documents in relation to the Judicial Review.

The Scottish Government submission of 20 July 2020 confirms that:

“A range of Scottish Government officials from the Permanent Secretary’s office, the First Minister’s office, People Directorate, SGLD and Special Advisers were involved in aspects of this case, in line with their areas of responsibility within Government and knowledge about the particular issues being challenged in the judicial review proceedings.”

In the case of my interactions this was often in relation to the handling of and preparation for media, public and parliamentary interest in the Judicial Review as well as to provide views and input on behalf of ministers who were respondents alongside the Permanent Secretary and the First Minister who had been named as an interested
party in Mr Salmond’s petition. See:

19 December 2018: News surfaced that MacKinnon had met a number of times with the two complainants providing briefing assistance before they formally complained.

This fuelled public speculation of a conspiracy against Alex strengthened by a later revelation that details of the prior contact had been deliberately withheld from the Scottish government counsel an act compromising it since it went on to misplead the Scottish government’s case in court.

The suppression of information and associated documentation relevant to the investigation by MacKinnon and her associates prejudiced the case and instructing counsel advised it would be withdrawing its support unless the Scottish government conceded.

January 2019: The Court of Session ruled that prior communication between MacKinnon and the two women who came forward with complaints meant the inquiry was unlawful.

Lord Pentland judged the government’s actions to be “procedurally unfair & tainted with apparent bias”. Alex was awarded £512,250 in costs. with a further £180,000 that ministers incurred in legal costs. Sturgeon wasted £692,000 of taxpayers money fighting a Judicial Review her most senior Lawyer Roddy Dunlop told her months previously she would lose.

Sturgeon would later tell the Holyrood Inquiry that she had been shocked by the outcome of the judicial review and that she had known nothing of impropriety in the investigations which she had instructed, participated in and closely monitored. Aye right!!!!!!

08 January 2019: Evans issued a public statement

Lawyers for the Scottish Government and for Alex Salmond have this morning informed the Court of Session that his action has been settled and the Court has approved that settlement.

As part of the settlement, I have accepted that the decision reached after the investigation of two complaints made against Mr Salmond should be set aside. 

This action is being taken because it has become clear that, in one respect only (albeit an important one), the investigation was procedurally flawed.

However, it is important to stress that this relates to the operational application of the Procedure for Handling Complaints Involving Current or Former Ministers (‘the Procedure’). The Scottish Government considers the Procedure itself to be robust and it remains in place.

After reassessing all the materials available, I have concluded that an impression of partiality could have been created based on one specific point – contact between the Investigating Officer and the two complainants around the time of their complaints being made in January 2018.

The full picture only became evident in December 2018 as a result of the work being undertaken to produce relevant documents in advance of the hearing.

I want to apologise to all involved for the failure in the proper application of this one particular part of the Procedure. There is nothing to suggest that the Investigating Officer did not conduct their duties in an impartial way. Unfortunately, the interactions with the complainants in advance of the complaints being made meant that the process was flawed, however impartially and fairly the Investigating Officer conducted the investigation.

 All the other grounds of Mr Salmond’s challenge have been dismissed.

The Scottish Government has acted in good faith at all times and will continue to do so. It was right and proper that these complaints were investigated and I stand by the decision to carry out that investigation.

It is also important to note that the procedural flaw in the investigation does not have implications, one way or the other, for the substance of the complaints or the credibility of the complainers. The Judicial Review was never about the substance of the complaints, but about the process that took place to investigate those complaints.

It is accordingly open to the Scottish Government to re-investigate the complaints and, subject to the views of the complainants, it would be our intention to consider this – however, this will only be once ongoing police inquiries have concluded. 

Meantime, I have commissioned an internal review of the specific application of this one element of the procedure. We shall learn and apply the lessons of this case to any future complaint addressed under our internal procedure.

My priority remains the duty of care to my staff, including anyone in the organisation who brings forward any concerns about inappropriate conduct, regardless of the identity or seniority of the individual complained about.

Finally I would reiterate that the single procedural flaw which led to this decision is deeply regrettable. In particular, I regret the distress it will cause to the two women who raised the complaints.

08 January 2018: Sturgeon’s statement to MSP’s at Holyrood: It is a longish ramble and best read on the internet at:


Comment: Evans statement was a misrepresentation of events of breathtaking hypocrisy. To state that only one claim was upheld and the others were dismissed is total fantasy. The first complaint was upheld when the Government conceded it in its entirety and settled out of court. That submission rendered all other claims moot and as such they were not presented to the Judge who had heard enough nonsense from the Government after they conceded first claim. Indeed the Scottish Government Counsel conceded that in his court statement: ” Whilst the Government disagrees with the plaitif on the other points these views are now academic.”

Nor is it credible that the claim that the need for impartiality of an investigating officer or equivalent was misunderstood. On the contrary, both James Hynd 10 November 2017 offering 3 names at “arms length” and Judith McKinnon 07 November 2017 seeking to engage an “independent party to investigate” recognised this at an early stage.

Whether that person came from the broader civil service or outside it is secondary. Perceived freedom from bias is an easily understood concept which is well established in common law and in workplace policy. The appointment of Judith McKinnon in this light was always wrong and is incomprehensible particularly in the
face of the fact that she has confirmed before this Committee that the nature of her prior contact with the complainants was well known and indeed sanctioned among her colleagues and line managers.

When the fact of it was discovered by the Government’s external Counsel (and even after the duty of candour was explained to government lawyers by them on 02 November 2018 and then by the court on 06 November 2018 the attempt was still made in pleadings to present it as “welfare” contact.

The documents which demonstrated this to be false had to be extracted from the Government by a Commission and Diligence procedure under the authority of the court as granted by Lord Pentland. The documents then produced under that procedure emerged despite the Government being willing to certify to the Court that these documents simply did not exist. That conduct is outrageous for a Government. At the Commission itself, Senior Counsel for the Government (himself blameless for the debacle) felt compelled to apologise to the court repeatedly as new batches of documents emerged.

It is highly probable that had this documentation not been concealed from the court (and from the Governments own counsel) the falsity of the Government’s pleadings would have been avoided. The fact that even after the Government case collapsed, misinformation then appeared in both a press release from the Permanent Secretary and the First Minister’s statement to Parliament of 08 January 2019 speaks to an organisation unable and unwilling to admit the truth even after a catastrophic defeat, the terms of which they had conceded to the Court of Session.

Nearly two and a half years would pass before the Scottish Government would be forced to remove the badly flawed procedures from use belatedly responding to public disquiet and sustained pressure from legal organisations and political bodies.

21 June 2021: Civil servants to stop investigating complaints against Scottish Government Ministers

Scottish civil servants will be stripped of their role investigating complaints against government ministers after the controversy surrounding sexual harassment claims against Alex Salmond.

Sturgeon, Alex’s successor as First Minister, said on Monday her government had accepted it needed sweeping reforms to its handling of ministerial misconduct allegations and its ethics policies, after three independent reports criticised its policies.

That would include:

Appointing an independent, outside investigator for complaints against serving and former ministers.

Ensure no time bar on carrying out retrospective investigations

Ensure complainers were properly supported by officials and setting an internal ethics team to ensure its policies were correct

The reforms follow separate inquiries into the Scottish government’s repeated failures in its investigations into historic harassment complaints against Salmond, first minister from 2007 to 2014.

08 January 2019: Sturgeon in a statement to the Holyrood parliament

“I did not know how the Scottish Government was dealing with the complaint, I did not know how the Scottish Government intended to deal with the complaint and I did not make any effort to find out how the Scottish Government was dealing with the complaint or to intervene in how the Scottish Government was dealing with the complaint.”

What!!!!!!!!!! a 2 year process conducted by civil servants who reported to her. and she knew nothing. Incompetence personified!!!

The Scottish electorate are asked to accept that Sturgeon knew nothing about the development and use of an unlawful procedure devised by civil servants specifically to target Alex Salmond. What she offered was a breach of the Ministerial Code which states:

“It is of paramount importance that Ministers give accurate and truthful information to the Parliament…. Ministers who knowingly mislead the Parliament will be expected to offer their resignation….”

But just suppose Sturgeon and all those who testified to the Holyrood Inquiry told the truth? Then she is in even deeper shtook. It would mean that there was an unprecedented coup by unelected civil servants against the democratically elected Government of Scotland watched over by Nicola Sturgeon and her Government.

10 January 2019: Two days after Sturgeon waffled in Holyrood her SNP colleagues went fishing for new sexual misconduct claims against Alex.

Conservative MP and former Brexit minister David Davis took advantage of Parliamentary privilege to read out phone text messages between three SNP officials in Parliament — which the Holyrood Inquiry had refused to publish.

He said the messages “suggest” SNP Chief Executive Officer Peter Murrell, the husband of Party Leader and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, had coordinated efforts by Chief Operating Officer, Sue Ruddick and Compliance Officer Iain McCann, to persuade female staff to accuse Salmond of sexual harassment, assault and rape.

Extract from David Davis address to the House of Commons

Sue Riddick’s telephone download is held by the Scottish Police, so the accuracy of the account can be checked if they need to. Now Alex Salmond has asserted that there has been a ‘malicious and concerted attempt to remove me from public life in Scotland’…by… ‘a range of individuals within the Scottish Government and the SNP’ who set out to ‘damage [his] reputation, even to the extent of having [him] imprisoned.’

These are incredibly grave charges. The whistle-blower clearly agrees with those charges. He or she starts their communication with the assertion that the evidence provided, and I quote ‘point to collusion, perjury, up to criminal conspiracy.’ Since I received the data it looks as though the committee has received at least some of it themselves, and some has also been put in the public domain by the Hon Member for East Lothian, a previous Justice Secretary in that Scottish government.

It was described anonymously by one of the committee members as ‘just private conversations that we had no business intruding on’. Well I will let the House judge the truth of that. No single sequence of texts is going to provide conclusive proof of what the whistle-blower described as a ‘criminal conspiracy’. But it does show a very strong prima facie case which requires further serious investigation, by which I mean at very least a thorough review of all the emails and other electronic records for the relevant personnel at all the relevant times.

Now for example, these texts show that there was a concerted effort by senior members of the SNP to encourage complaints. The messages suggest that SNP Chief Executive Peter Murrell coordinated Ruddick and Iain McCann, the SNP’s
Compliance Officer, in the handling of specific complainants.

On 28 September 2018, a month after the police started their investigation of the criminal case, McCann expressed great disappointment to Ruddick that someone who had promised to deliver five complainants to him by the end of the week had come empty or ‘overreached’ as he put it. One of the complainants said to Ruddick she was ‘feeling pressurised by the whole thing rather than supported’.

In the day following the Scottish Government’s collapse in the judicial review in January 2019, Ruddick expressed to McCann the hope that one of the complainants would be ‘sickened enough to get back in the game’. Later that day in one text, Ruddick expressed fears for “what happens when my name comes out as fishing for others to come forward”.

“McCann expressed great disappointment to Ruddick that someone who had promised to deliver five complainants to him by the end of the week had come empty or ‘overreached”.

“One of the complainants involved in the Scottish Government investigation told Ruddick she was “feeling pressurised by the whole thing rather than supported’.”

Ruddick said to McCann she hoped “one of the complainants would be ‘sickened enough to get back in the game’.”

“Later that month, she confirmed to Murrell that the complainant was now ‘up for the fight’ and ‘keen to see him go to jail’.”

Ruddick herself in one of her texts expressed nervousness about ‘what happens when my name comes out as fishing for others to come forward’. Note again this was after the criminal investigation into Salmond had commenced. This is improper, to say the least. Contact with, and influence of, potential witnesses is totally inappropriate once a criminal investigation is under way.

That was known inside the SNP itself. The text messages reveal that at an SNP National Executive Committee meeting early in January 2019 the Hon Member for Edinburgh South West, Joanna Cherry, raised concerns amongst staff at Westminster that SNP headquarters were engaged in the ‘suborning’ of witnesses, whilst on 28 August 2018 a senior member of SNP staff in this building described in an email the SNP headquarters move against Salmond as a ‘witch hunt.’

Shortly after charges were brought against Salmond, Peter Murrell sent messages saying it was a good time to be ‘pressurising’ the detectives working on the case, and that ‘the more fronts [Salmond] is having to firefight on the better for all complainants’.

When the Inquiry put these messages to Mr Murrell, he said that they were ‘quite out of character ’. That is no defence, even were it true. But having seen evidence of other messages, it seems to me they were all too much in character for Mr Murrell.

In a committee evidence session on 08 December 2020 Mr Murrell replied under questioning that there were no more messages of the type already in the public domain from January 2019. That statement delivered under oath is hard to
reconcile with the dozens of messages stretching over a period of months from September 2018, which I have now seen.

There is more, but it would take the whole of this debate to read them out. I believe the committee needs to gain access to all of this information. I would just say to the anonymous committee member that described them as ‘just private conversations’ that they should understand that meddling in an ongoing police inquiry is at best improper, and at worst criminal. So, it requires proper investigation. And if the committee does not feel it can do the job, perhaps it should ask the police to do so instead.

Which brings us to the complaints process Mr Salmond was subjected to. Now this process was new. Created in late 2017, it was different to existing Scottish Government complaints procedures in a number of ways, including being retrospective, lacking a mediation procedure, and extraordinarily, applying to previous ministers but not to previous Civil Servants.

Murrell’s contribution

Murrell, Sturgeon’s husband admitted sending bombshell messages urging recipients to pressurise police over the Alex Salmond case, stirring up trouble for Alex.

SNP MP Kenny MacAskill said he received an anonymous document about the criminal side of the Salmond case. The document claimed to show text messages sent by Murrell in January 2019 on the day after Alex was charged with sexual offences. It was also the month in which a separate complaint was made about Alex to the Metropolitan Police, an investigation the London force later dropped.

The first message stated: “Totally agree folk should be asking the police questions……. report now with the PF on charges which leaves police twiddling their thumbs. So good time to be pressurising them. Would be good to know Met looking at events in London.”

Murrell’s explanation: ” I wanted individuals to direct any questions they had to the police”.

The second message stated: “TBH the more fronts he is having to firefight on the better for all complainers. So CPS action would be a good thing.”

Murrell’s explanation: ” I meant that all allegations should be investigated”.

The admissions came after Sturgeon faced a grilling on the texts at First Minister’s Questions. Quizzed by the opposition, Sturgeon said: “As I understand it, the obtaining of the messages and the passing of them to the Holyrood Inquiry………is currently a matter of police investigation. I am not standing here and I do not think that it is reasonable to be asked questions about things that other people might or might not have done. Call the people who the messages are purported to come from and ask them the questions. Call me and I will answer for myself.”

Comment: These sources of information dried up after David Davis exposed the illegal exchanges of information engaged in by Murrell and other members of the SNP executive. Did they stop talking to each other? No they dumped their regular cell phones and used “untraceable “burner phones”.

03 August 2020: Linda Fabiani, Convenor of the Holyrood Inquiry wrote to Swinney asking for a report on any action taken by the Scottish Government to address the inadequacies of the ill judged procedure for investigating complaints against former Government Ministers. His reply indicated that no action had been taken to alter any part of the procedure but a review was underway.

30 November 2020: Swinney wrote to Fabiani – Further Response to Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of
Harassment Complaints: Investigation of Complaints

30 November 2020: Swinney wrote to fabiani –

I am now providing the committee with a statement and timeline, along with 288 supporting
documents relating the investigation of the complaint phase of the committee’s inquiry. This
demonstrates the Scottish Government’s commitment to ensuring that the Committee has access
to the documents and evidence it needs to fulfil its remit, within the legal and other restrictions that

21 February 2021: Instructing complainants

The Lord Advocate’s and the Crown Agent’s evidence to the Holyrood Inquiry

Comment: The Q & A sessions with members of the inquiry teased out a great deal of information despite loads of cross talk and waffle on the part of the 2 officers of the Law. The Lord Advocate and Evans clearly colluded in the decision to ignore the wishes of the complainants and refer the matter to the police.

19 March 2021: The leak from the Holyrood Inquiry

The Inquiry is understood to have voted by a five to four majority that Ms Sturgeon gave an “inaccurate” account of a meeting with her predecessor, and therefore misled parliament. It reportedly concluded it was “hard to believe” Sturgeon did not know of concerns about the former first minister’s behaviour before November 2017, as she claimed.

In a further leak about the findings of the inquiry into Scottish Government’s unlawful investigation of Alex, a majority of MSPs are understood to have concluded that Sturgeon misled the Holyrood committee and she did have knowledge of the concerns. Sturgeon claimed she was informed about a media inquiry relating to Alex’s alleged behaviour towards female Edinburgh Airport staff in November 2017 and that was the first she had ever heard of his potential inappropriate behaviour. The Inquiry also believed Sturgeon should have acted upon receipt of any information about Alex’s conduct.

It also revealed the Inquiry was “concerned” about meetings Sturgeon had with Alex after he revealed he was being investigated, and why it took her more than two months to tell the Evans what she knew. The Inquiry believed: “She should have made Evans aware as soon as possible after the 02 April 2018 meeting and she should have ceased contact with Alex after it.

Sturgeon described the news as a “very partisan leak” from the inquiry and said it is “not that surprising” as the Inquiry is understood to have deemed she misled parliament. Sturgeon said: “I stand by all of the evidence I gave to the committee, all eight hours’ worth of evidence. What’s been clear is that opposition members of this Inquiry made their minds up about me before I uttered a single word of evidence, their public comments have made that clear. So this leak from the committee. A very partisan leak. Tonight before they’ve finalised the report is not that surprising.”

21 March 2021: Holyrood Inquiry Report and recommendations

The Scottish Government accepted an urgent need for sweeping reforms to its handling of ministerial misconduct allegations and its ethics policies, after the parliamentary Inquiry identified a series of failings, many of which were laid at the door of Leslie Evans, the Permanent Secretary.

The two complainers were insufficiently supported by the government.

Using the same official who had counselled the two complainers was a clear breach of process.

Officials had significantly impeded the Holyrood investigation by failing to find and release key documents; and that Sturgeon was wrong to meet Salmond to discuss the internal inquiry.

The SG had disregarded the 2019 High Court judgement through its refusal to update the failed harassment policy.

Changes include:

Appointing an independent, outside investigator for complaints against serving and former ministers.

Ensuring complainers are properly supported by officials and appointing an internal ethics team to ensure its policies are correct

Advising Ministers that they will remain accountable for their behaviour long after leaving office.


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