Alex Salmond denies claims he sexually assaulted two staff members

UK News

Alex Salmond vowed to sue the Scottish government today after claims surfaced that he sexually assaulted staff members.

Mr Salmond hit out after it emerged that two complaints had been made against him dating from 2013, when he was still First Minister.

Launching a court challenge to the ‘unfair’ investigation process, Mr Salmond protested his innocence and said he had not even been told details of the allegations.

However, SNP leader and current First Minister Nicola Sturgeon insisted the complaints could not be ‘swept under the carpet’, making clear the Scottish government would fight Mr Salmond’s objections. 

The accusations came to light during an internal inquiry by the Scottish government last year into its handling of complaints in the workplace – triggered by the scandal that erupted at Westminster.

Formal complaints were made against Mr Salmond in January, and he was notified about them in March.  

The complaints are reported to have been passed on by officials to Police Scotland – although the force refused to confirm they are investigating.

However, they did not come to light publicly until Mr Salmond himself posted a lengthy blog last night.

Former Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond (pictured speaking to journalists in West Lothian today) has been accused carrying out two assaults while in office in 2013

Former Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond (pictured speaking to journalists in West Lothian today) has been accused carrying out two assaults while in office in 2013

Former Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond (pictured speaking to journalists in West Lothian today) has been accused carrying out two assaults while in office in 2013

Nicola Sturgeon (pictured in Edinburgh today) admitted she was struggling to 'come to terms' with the claims against her SNP predecessor and they would be 'upsetting for the party

Nicola Sturgeon (pictured in Edinburgh today) admitted she was struggling to 'come to terms' with the claims against her SNP predecessor and they would be 'upsetting for the party

Nicola Sturgeon (pictured in Edinburgh today) admitted she was struggling to ‘come to terms’ with the claims against her SNP predecessor and they would be ‘upsetting for the party

Mr Salmond, 63, dismissed the allegations as ‘patently ridiculous’ and said he had launched a judicial review challenging the legality of the Scottish Government’s investigation.

‘I can’t specify what the complaints are because I’m going to court, and I specifically and absolutely deny any suggestion of criminality,’ he told journalists today.

‘That’s my position. I’m going to court, the Scottish Government are going to have to account for themselves at court.

‘Let the Court of Session do its job. If I lose then I publicly answer the complaints, if I win then we’re in a different situation altogether, but at least we’ll have established some semblance of fairness.’

Mr Salmond said he is still a member of the SNP.

‘I met Nicola Sturgeon several times over the last few months and this (the allegations) is one of the subjects that came up, as you would expect when Nicola and I have been close colleagues for many years,’ he said.

‘She was the deputy first minister when these events are purported to have occurred so you’d expect that to happen.’ 

In a statement overnight, Mr Salmond said ‘for many months’ he had been trying to persuade the Scottish government’s Permanent Secretary Leslie Evans that she was ‘behaving unlawfully in the application of a complaints procedure’.

‘This is a procedure so unjust that even now I have not been allowed to see and therefore to properly challenge the case against me. I have not been allowed to see the evidence,’ he said.

‘I have tried everything, including offers of conciliation, mediation and legal arbitration to resolve these matters both properly and amicably.

‘This would have been in everybody’s interests, particularly those of the two complainants. All of these efforts have been rejected.

‘The Permanent Secretary chose to deny me contact with any current civil servant, many of whom wished to give evidence on my behalf and access to documentation to allow me to properly challenge the complaints, all of which I refute and some of which were patently ridiculous.

The 63-year-old has denied the accusations and has asked for a judicial review challenging the legality of the Scottish Government's investigation (pictured Bute House, the official residency of the first minister of Scotland)

The 63-year-old has denied the accusations and has asked for a judicial review challenging the legality of the Scottish Government's investigation (pictured Bute House, the official residency of the first minister of Scotland)

The 63-year-old has denied the accusations and has asked for a judicial review challenging the legality of the Scottish Government’s investigation (pictured Bute House, the official residency of the first minister of Scotland)

But Ms Sturgeon  responded today: ‘These complaints have been considered since then under a procedure covering ministers and former ministers that was agreed by me in December 2017 in the wake of public concern about harassment.

‘Although I have been aware for some time of the fact of the investigation – initially from Alex Salmond – I have had no role in the process, and to have referred to it before now would have compromised the integrity of the internal investigation, which I was not prepared to do.’

Nicola Sturgeon’s statement in full 

This is the statement issued by Nicola Sturgeon today: 

‘These complaints have been considered since then under a procedure covering ministers and former ministers that was agreed by me in December 2017 in the wake of public concern about harassment.

‘Although I have been aware for some time of the fact of the investigation – initially from Alex Salmond – I have had no role in the process, and to have referred to it before now would have compromised the integrity of the internal investigation, which I was not prepared to do.’

Ms Sturgeon said the Scottish Government ‘refutes’ Mr Salmond’s criticisms of the process and ‘will defend its position vigorously’.

‘However, this focus on process cannot deflect from the fact that complaints were made that could not be ignored or swept under the carpet.

‘I have been clear on many occasions that all organisations and workplaces must make it possible for people to come forward to report concerns and have confidence that they will be treated seriously.

‘For that principle to mean anything it cannot be applied selectively. It must be applied without fear or favour, regardless of the identity, seniority or political allegiance of the person involved.

‘My relationship with Alex Salmond obviously makes this an extremely difficult situation for me to come to terms with. I am also acutely aware how upsetting this will be for my party.

‘However the over-riding priority must be to ensure fair and due process. I would also ask that the privacy of those who have complained be respected.’ 

Ms Sturgeon said the Scottish Government ‘refutes’ Mr Salmond’s criticisms of the process and ‘will defend its position vigorously’.

‘However, this focus on process cannot deflect from the fact that complaints were made that could not be ignored or swept under the carpet,’ she said.

Ms Sturgeon went on: ‘I have been clear on many occasions that all organisations and workplaces must make it possible for people to come forward to report concerns and have confidence that they will be treated seriously.

‘For that principle to mean anything it cannot be applied selectively. It must be applied without fear or favour, regardless of the identity, seniority or political allegiance of the person involved.

‘My relationship with Alex Salmond obviously makes this an extremely difficult situation for me to come to terms with. I am also acutely aware how upsetting this will be for my party.

‘However the over-riding priority must be to ensure fair and due process. I would also ask that the privacy of those who have complained be respected.’

Ms Sturgeon declined to answer questions on whether Mr Salmond would be suspended by the SNP, saying only: ‘These matters will be considered in the fullness of time.’

Leslie Evans, Permanent Secretary at the Scottish Government, said an internal review was launched last year into the Scottish Government’s procedures for handling complaints in the workplace in light of wider concerns about harassment at Westminster and the Scottish Parliament.

As part of that review, a new procedure on handling harassment complaints involving current or former ministers was introduced.

She said two complaints were raised in January against Mr Salmond and he was notified in March about an investigation. 

Mr Salmond was elected First Minister in 2007 in the SNP’s first ever Holyrood election victory.

He stepped down seven years later in the wake of the 2014 independence referendum defeat.


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