The Hamilton report – the Irishman who muddied the waters aiding Nicola Sturgeon in her time of need
Item 17 on Hamilton’s remit referred to an “alleged” leak to the Daily Record.
In his report Hamilton stated that it was not part of his function, he had no power to conduct criminal investigations and Mr Salmond should go to the police.
He also gave no reference to the leaks to the Sunday Post or the leak about the Edinburgh Airport story to the Daily Record.
The overall effect of Hamilton’s report was to minimise the impact of the leaks and the Holyrood inquiry did not pursue the matters with any vigour.
It was speculated that the leaks were spoilers originating in the SG, made to provide a distraction from the reports that the SG had been forced forced to admit that they had misled Salmond’s solicitors with regards to the fact that the Investigating Officer had had prior contact with the complainants (contrary to paragraph 10 of the new procedure).
Information which was notified to both the complainants and Alex Salmond and his lawyers the day after together with a reminder about an on-going need for confidentiality.
On 23 August Permanent Secretary Leslie Evans, advised Nicola Sturgeon that a FOI request from the Daily Record had been received in mid-June.
An answer had been due mid-July but had been deferred and she had decided that all information requested would be released in a statement at 1700 hours (despite Alex Salmond’s objections)
It was clear from communications with the Crown Agent on 21 August that the police were unhappy about this.
Alex Salmond sought an interdict and although he had no time to secure one, the Scottish government delayed the broadcast.
Even so, on the evening of 23 August the allegations were circulated online and the Daily Record approached Alex Salmond for comment on a story that it intended to run on 24 August .
Outstanding is the identity of the person that instructed the police in Edinburgh to drop all current business and task a police team to conduct a “fishing trip” visit to Edinburgh Airport with a remit to dig up any information that would be damming to Alex Salmond with particular reference to opening an investigation into allegations made without foundation some 10 years before.
Tracking the source is a relatively straight forward task.
No one in the Scottish government or the SNP carried the clout needed to order the police to do anything and the force had previously advised a need for caution leaving the Crown Office as the only other place staffed with officers of the seniority required.
And “surprise surprise” it was revealed later that the Permanent Secretary Leslie Evans, breached protocol when on or about 23 August, she copied all information pertaining to her investigations to the Lord Advocate, James Wolffe.
The intervention and leaks were made by a law officer. But who?
When Nicola Sturgeon gave her evidence to the Holyrood inquiry she claimed that one of the reasons why new procedures had been put in place on her instructions in late 2017, was that at that time Sky News had contacted the SG with a story of some sort of incident a decade before involving Alex Salmond at Edinburgh Airport.
Coming in the wake of the MeToo movement, the allegation “lingered” in her mind.
This is twaddle the “new” procedures were written in August 2017 some three months before the contact she is referring to and Angus Robertson had advised her that there was no mileage in the story.
A fact he confirmed in his evidence to the Holyrood inquiry.
In 2022, Angus Robertson, in his evidence to the inquiry said: ”
In 2009 I was called by an Edinburgh Airport manager about Alex Salmond’s perceived “inappropriateness” towards female staff at the airport.
I was asked if I could informally broach the subject with Mr Salmond to make him aware of this perception.
I raised the matter directly with Mr Salmond, who denied he had acted inappropriately in any way.
I communicated back to the Edinburgh Airport manager that a conversation had happened.
The matter being resolved, and without a formal complaint having been made, it was not reported further.”
It is safe to assume that the Party’s Chief Executive, Peter Murrell, Compliance Officer, Ian McCann, and Chief Operating Officer, Sue Ruddick, would have been informed and they would archive all details of the non-incident, to be used at some future date against Alex Salmond since that is their much confirmed modus operandi. (See my previous article on McCann).
No surprise then: “On 5 November 2018 after a lapse of nearly 10 years police attended Edinburgh Airport and enquired of management if they had any awareness of sexual or other misconduct on the part of Alex Salmond in any of his frequent visits to the terminal.
They drew a blank and ended their interest.
But that is not how the Scottish press reported the matter.
On 12 November 2018, guided by informed sources the Daily Record maliciously conflated the Edinburgh Airport non-story with a report that Alex Salmond was facing allegations of sexual harassment against two or more Scottish government employees.
Supporting Alex his personal bodyguard provided a statement denying that the former MP had behaved inappropriately towards female staff at Edinburgh Airport when he was First Minister.
Roger Cherry, who had served in a number of high profile police posts claimed that he accompanied him almost everywhere and would have seen or heard anything inappropriate at the airport.
It later transpired that Alex Salmond had made a “dad” joke about “killer heels” referring to a airport employee who had inadvertently caused a bit of panic in the terminal when her footwear accidentally set off a security alarm.
As sure as night follows day it was the same source in the SG that leaked the confidential information in August and November 2018, which begs the question.
Who? : Murrell? McCann? Ruddick? Lloyd? or all of them acting together.
Why?: Sour grapes their evil plan had fallen at the first hurdle?
On 5 November 2018 Alex Salmond was informed that the investigating officer, Head of People Advice, Judith Mackinnon, had been involved with the complainants prior to the formal complaint being lodged against him in January 2018.
Information the SG withheld from their own legal team who had to apologetically relay the news that would in the event wreck their own case (so that they threatened to resign if the SG did not concede).
The SG conceded: two complainants were hug out to dry and Alex Salmond was awarded around £600,000 in damages.
2016: Sturgeon on Patrick Grady – Sexual Predator I was aware of concerns but there were no complaints
Grady made unwanted sexual advances to a male teenaged staffer employed by the Party at Westminster by touching and stroking his hair, back and neck.
Ian Blackford, then leader of the SNP group at Westminster instigated a process effectively brushing Grady’s behaviour under the carpet a state of affairs that remained in place until 2022 when the content of a meeting led by Blackford was leaked revealing him urging colleagues to show support for Grady while failing to mention the victim.
Blackford was replaced by Stephen Flynn soon after.
The matter was investigated by House of Commons officials and Grady was forced to make a public apology in the Commons, for his unacceptable behaviour and a private one to the victim and was suspended from parliament for 2 days.
Weeks later the SNP was forced by press and public pressure to deal with the matter but only after the Scottish police opened an investigation into events in London.
Grady was called to account and following his admission to the offences he was first removed from his offical positions within the Party and had his party membership withdrawn.
Nicola Sturgeon then made a brief statement to the press that the process for complaining within the SNP was not fit for purpose and the victim had been badly served by the Party.
Six short months later the Glasgow North MP returned to the Party. Fully reinstated.
Shocked political observers commented: “This decision clearly shows that the SNP has no desire to root out sleaze or punish offenders. It is business as usual for the SNP Westminster club. Grady should have had the whip removed permanently but no matter, at the next election, the people of Glasgow will have the chance to give Grady his marching orders.”
And what of the teenager six years after the event. He feels he was badly let down by people he trusted and was forced to leave employment with the Party in London. His concern is that the outcome of his complaints will reinforce the views of many that abuse of staff employed by the SNP will continue unabated.
Dec 2018: Former SNP councillor, North Lanarkshire District Council wins her defamation case
Julie McAnulty, former SNP councillor won a £40,000 defamation payout after she sued fellow SNP activist Sheena McCulloch who made a malicious allegation of racism against her.
The allegation was first raised by McCulloch in a letter to SNP compliance manager Ian McCann, and copied to chief executive Peter Murrell, and then-National Secretary Patrick Grady.
(This is the same person reported to McCann, 2 years previously, as a sexual predator of teenagers in Westminster).
McNulty denied the allegations and asked McCann for the backing of SNP headquarters to clear her name.
Her plea for assistance was refused forcing her to pursue the matter in the civil court.
Explaining her decision she said: “It should never have got to this stage. The SNP’s internal procedures are more than capable of resolving the matter. But for reasons not explained to me they declined to get involved.”
In his judgement Lord Uist, stated the accusation was part of a campaign against her by an “opposing faction within the local SNP”.
He said it was designed to prevent her being nominated as a candidate for the Scottish Parliament and “possibly to oust her from the party.”
North Lanarkshire Council depute leader, Labour’s Paul Kelly, said: “It is clear that SNP headquarters should immediately conduct a full investigation of the elected members who played their part in this scandal.” There was no investigation.
2017 Jordan Linden accused of sexual misconduct
Jordan Linden, then Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament, was accused of sexual misconduct in sending explicit photographs to another SYP member. He denied the claim and a police investigation failed to establish any criminality.
Note: These events are still unresolved many years later . Complainants continue to press for their allegations to be properly investigated and resolved to their satisfaction. What has happened since adds weight to their arguments.
Sep 2019: Ian McCann, Compliance Officer for the SNP was formally advised of allegations of sexual harrassment against Jordan Linden claiming he had made unwelcome sexual advances on he person of another male member of the Party at an after event function in Dundee on 21 September 2019.
Four days later Councillor Linden, who had been lauded before the function by Huma Yousaf as a person who would “make an outstanding MP” withdrew his nomination to become athe Westminster candidate for Coatbridge, Chryston & Bellshill at the next General Election.
Oct 2019: Concerns were raised with Mr McCann, but not resolved, about why no action appeared to have been taken over the matter. Much later activists told the press that SNP HQ had shown “wilful negligence”, and that “nothing was done.”
Mar 2022: Councillor Linden was elected leader of the SNP opposition group on North Lanarkshire council by his fellow councillors. Not long after the local press picked up on events at Dundee and asked Linden if there was any truth in the matter. He declined to comment but did not deny the allegations.
Sep 2022: Sophia Coyle spoke out after weeks of strife at crisis-hit North Lanarkshire Council, claiming the party is turning a blind eye to harassment she and others have endured.
She alleged another Councillor, tipped by party insiders as a potential leader of the SNP group in Lanarkshire, had been “obstructive, aggressive and abusive” towards her since he became a councillor.
She said: “His behaviour towards me has caused other branch members to complain. It’s not as if I have been the only one. He tried to block me from standing as the branch woman’s officer and, when my dad resigned, he said I should not be involved in Party meetings because of what happened. I’ve no control over my dad, his decision was nothing to do with me. Good members have written in and complained. Over the years I have emailed Ian McCann (SNP Compliance Officer) and I’ve yet to have a response from the guy, let alone a phone call. It’s absolutely shocking and he needs to explain what it is he’s doing about complaints.”
Oxfam was reported to the Charity Commission by the Tory Party in 2014, for publishing a faux film poster, headed “Lifting the lid on austerity, Britain reveals a perfect storm and it’s forcing more and more people into poverty.”
Showing a broiling sea under clouds titled: The Perfect Storm. Added were the words ‘starring zero hours contracts, high prices, benefit cuts, unemployment, childcare costs’.
And a post on Twitter which invited readers to hear how Oxfam “investigated the reasons why so many people were turning to food banks in Britain 2014.”
Worthy of consideration is that the late Jo Cox, who was head of policy at Oxfam, was previously an advisor to Gordon Brown’s wife Sarah and also worked for Baroness Kinnock, whose husband Neil was leader of the Labour party between 1983 and 1992.
It is also worth noting that David Pitt-Watson, Oxfam’s honorary treasurer, was also a special advisor (SPAD) for over 20 years and was Assistant General Secretary of the Labour Party from 1997 to 1999.
This is how the Oxfam scandal unfolded.
Oxfam was accused of covering up an investigation into the hiring of sex workers for orgies by staff working in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake, which killed thousands.
After the investigation the charity allowed three men, including the country director, Roland van Hauwermeiren, to resign, and sacked four for gross misconduct, according to an internal 2011 report.
The UK government International Development Secretary threatened to cut off all funding to Oxfam unless the charity handed over all information on its workers’ use of sex workers in Haiti.
Meanwhile, Oxfam was hit with allegations that employees used sex workers in Chad in 2006, when Van Hauwermeiren was running operations there.
The Charity Commission launched a statutory inquiry into Oxfam amid concerns it might not have “fully and frankly disclosed” all details about the Haiti allegations.
Oxfam’s deputy chief executive, Penny Lawrence, resigned saying she was “desperately sorry”, as Haiti demanded the prosecutions of aid workers identified as using sex workers.
Comment: The UK Charity sector is largely given over to Left-wing Labour Party political polemicist appointee’s with little, if any experience in Charity work.
Massive amounts of financial donations are inappropriately used and tens of thousands of poor and under privileged people are abused and women and young girls blackmailed into providing sexual services for highly paid charity employees. And yet it goes on and on and no one seems to give a toss!!!!
The latest scandal. Only reported. today
Apr 2021: More than 50 Congolese women have alleged that they have been sexually abused or exploited by aid workers from some of the world’s top humanitarian organisations, including Oxfam. The investigation, which took almost a year to complete, will send shockwaves through the humanitarian sector.
The allegations come two years after charities pledged to clean up their act when it was revealed that Oxfam had covered up an investigation into the hiring of prostitutes, some allegedly under age, by staff working in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. Other organisations, including Save the Children and Plan International, were also embroiled in the scandal and reported cases of sexual harassment by staff members.
This is the mantra that inspires the Scottish Government management of big projects, even when they are supposed to be major public infrastructure developments.
Some weeks ago we looked at the question of CalMac after information circulated about an impending privatisation plan.
The First Minister denied the story, but closer inspection informs us that the proposed redesign has already been influenced by the corporate lobby:
“Ernst and Young were asked by Ministers to conduct an in-depth examination of the government structure which runs Scotland’s ferry service under a brief titled “Project Neptune”.
The government agreed contracts worth £560,000 with Ernst and Young to carry out the work.
That’s over half a million from the public purse into the bank account of a private firm with an ideological and economic preference towards privatisation.”
Recent days have been fraught with controversy around the failure to deliver two new ferries to serve island communities. It shouldn’t need to be said, but maybe it is worth re-emphasising that such infrastructure is not an optional extra. It is a vital necessity.
The ferries are four years late, and vastly over budget. The failure to deliver these ferries has some obvious knock-on effects. Existing ferries are unable to meet demand effectively, and because of their age, unable to deal with the variable conditions of the sea on a sustained basis. This leads to an increase in cancelled sailings.
Bill Calderwood, secretary of the Isle of Arran Ferries Committee, puts it in stark terms:
“The situation is deteriorating. It’s unsustainable for the island, for our businesses and for our quality of life.”
It should be a benchmark task of the Scottish Government to deliver essential connectivity, and to build up Scottish manufacturing. Instead we have failure to deliver on the one hand, and on the other, we have Turkish yards building new ferries to serve the Islay routes. As reported recently:
“Cemre Marin Endustri has been announced as the preferred bidder for the order against three other yards which will increase vehicle and freight capacity by nearly 40 per cent.”
We might also look at the failure to deliver other vital infrastructure projects, such as the failed high speed broadband roll out, which is running six years late without an end in sight. Something is not working.
In 2020 alone, hundreds of meetings between multinational corporations and wealthy individuals took place with Scottish Government ministers. In a wide-ranging investigation the following was reported:
“Analysis of Scottish Government ministers’ engagements in 2020 shows that meetings, potentially of key public interest, were not in the register, including those between ministers and companies awarded multi-million pound UK and Scottish contracts to supply the NHS in the run-up to Covid-19.
“As these meetings took place by phone they did not fall under regulated lobbying rules, an exemption which means they don’t need to appear on the lobbying register.
Others in this category included meetings between ministers and the billionaire steel tycoon behind GFG Alliance, Sanjeev Gupta.”
Sanjeev Gupta, as it happens, has paid just £5 (five pounds) towards the acquisition of a Highlands smelting plant – with taxpayers financing the rest of the £330 million deal. The research also found that:
“…engagements with big business, including energy companies and renewables chasing Scotland’s booming renewables sector, dominated the diaries of several ministers.”
Let’s just think about this. The First Minister announces a National Energy Company in 2017.
Nothing happens. Then, in 2021, SNP members want to raise the issue again to add some urgency to the plan.
They vote overwhelmingly for the policy at their conference.
Again, nothing happens.
At the same time government ministers were having meetings, outside of the public record, with big businesses seeking to cash in on Scotland’s renewables industry.
Before we know it, the Scottish Government launches a “green investment portfolio” worth £3 Billion of Scottish green assets.
This package, a substantial component of Scotland’s economic future, is to be bought up by private and foreign capital.
As we know, ScotWind has already seen large tracts of renewable wind energy sold, cheaply, to the likes of British Petroleum.
Meanwhile, Scotland’s six offshore wind farms have paid a derisory £150,000 to nearby communities in the last 12 months.
Sturgeon’s National Investment Bank for the common good of Scotland’s people has morphed into a tool for corporate business to capitalise on.
The “bank for the people” set up to make strategic investments for the common good, has morphed into yet another avenue for corporate Scotland to capitalise on.
For instance, tourism technology business Travelnest Ltd has received an initial £3 million in funding from the SNIB.
The company specialises in providing infrastructure for holiday home owners to list and manage their properties.
It turns out that the bank, rather than acting as a countermeasure to the failures of the market, is nothing of the sort.
Take a look at some of the corporate networks involved:
The Chair of SNIB is Willie Watt. Watt is an Advisory Board Member of Scottish Equity Partners, a private sector Glasgow-based investment consortia which is already investing in projects into which SNIB is investing.
Carolyn Jamieson is a Non Executive Director of the Scottish National Investment Bank and is also an Advisory Board Member of Scottish Equity Partners.
She is formerly Chief Legal Officer at Skyscanner.
Interestingly the new “Chief Entrepreneur” is also formerly a top executive at Skyscanner. Small world.
All of this fits neatly into the system of patronage set up around the leadership of the Scottish Government sprawling beyond the corporate sector and into wider parts of public life.
Thus, the Chair of the Economic Recovery Group, is also the Chair of Buccleuch Estates and is also Chair of the National Galleries of Scotland board, alongside Andrew Wilson of Charlotte Street Partners who is also the author of the Growth Commission, alongside Willie Watt who is also the inaugural chair of the Scottish National Investment bank.
While the corporate lobby exercises a hundred times more power and influence than the SNP membership, the party hierarchy also comes down hard whenever the working class start to mobilise in their own interests.
They have shown they are willing to utilise Tory anti-trade union laws against striking cleansing workers in Glasgow.
Indeed, Susan Aitken, who wins the award for reintroducing the word “ned” into public discourse, is driving an agenda in Scotland’s largest “Yes” city based on a programme of massive privatisation.
If Swinney really did cut and paste Osborne’s business rate proposals for his conference speech in 2015, then Susan Aitken is a dead ringer for David Cameron.
In true “Big Society” fashion, the citizens of Glasgow are asked to do their own community cleaning in an initiative co-sponsored by McDonalds, who were given the green light for a new drive through in Toryglen despite concerns raised by local residents who fear the impact it will have on children’s health and traffic.
At the same time, the SNP led City Council has spent £10 million on private cleansing contractors in recent years.
“It beggars belief they are lining the pockets of private contractors with millions of pounds of public money while the city’s waste crisis keeps growing.
It would be far better if these monies were redistributed properly by investing in more full-time staff and better resources to help make our communities cleaner and greener.”
These processes, local and national, are furnished with a “quango class” composed of “influential bankers, retired senior civil servants, well-connected industry insiders, powerful chief executives and former politicians.”
As the cost of living crisis takes hold, Sturgeon is putting the focus on Westminster. But there is a hypocrisy here.
Because the SNP are gearing up to take on the public sector unions as their own Spending Review commits to a plan that will cut around 30,000 jobs.
At the same time, their strategy for independence amounts to box ticking.
In the end, the votes, money, activism and support for the SNP, drawn primarily from Scotland’s working class, has been funnelled directly into sustaining the architecture of the Scottish establishment.
That is the real crime the SNP leadership perpetuated against the people.
The disastrous Growth Commission, the Westminster government’s variant of “independence,” was brought together by Scotland’s premier corporate lobbying firm, Charlotte Street Partners, while the trade unions were excluded.