Salmond accuser feels ‘let down’ by Scottish government and exploited by Holyrood inquiry

Inside Scottish parliament
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A woman who came forward with allegations of sexual harassment by Alex Salmond has found the Holyrood committee’s investigation “more traumatic” than the High Court trial of the former first minister.

“Let down”

The woman, speaking anonymously on the BBC’s The Sunday Show, said the Scottish government “let down” women who complained because of its unlawful investigation. She also said the committee inquiry set up to look into the botched investigation of Salmond had turned the issue into a “political fight” and suggested any conclusions it reaches will be “utterly useless”.

She also denied claims that there had been a conspiracy to target Salmond and said:

It is utterly absurd to suggest that nine women could be persuaded to lie to the police, to perjure themselves in court.

The accuser, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was one of the women who gave evidence during Salmond’s criminal trial at the High Court in Edinburgh in March 2020. Salmond was ultimately acquitted of all 13 of the sexual assault charges against him.

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Speaking about the Scottish government’s investigation, which the Court of Session found to be “tainted by apparent bias”, the woman said:

It takes a lot of courage to report sexual harassment, particularly against a very powerful person. I think the fact that the Government were willing to investigate those complaints is positive but clearly they let down those women and they have a responsibility to fix that for anybody else in the future.

Alex Salmond Legal Action
Alex Salmond speaking outside the Court of Session in Edinburgh after it ruled that the Scottish Government acted unlawfully regarding sexual harassment complaints against the former first minister (Jane Barlow/PA)

The challenge

Salmond challenged the legality of the Scottish government’s investigation, and it emerged that the government-appointed investigating officer Judith Mackinnon had made prior contact with two of the complainants. The judicial review was eventually conceded by the Scottish government and Salmond received a £512,250 payout for his legal fees.

Asked about the complaints procedure that was applied unlawfully but remains in place, the woman said:

From what I can see it hasn’t been fixed yet and I think the thing that’s really disappointing, particularly through the committee process, is that the fact that committee members have turned this into a political fight has effectively allowed the Government to get away with not being properly scrutinised by members on its procedures.

The government has since asked Laura Dunlop QC to conduct a review of the complaints procedure against current and former ministers.

Apologies

Later during the programme, convener of the Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints Linda Fabiani offered a personal apology to the women who have criticised the inquiry’s behaviour. After hearing the woman’s remarks, the SNP MSP said:

I’m very very sad to hear that, but I understand that

Fabiani added:

I am really sorry that people feel that way, that these women feel that way – absolutely sorry. I can only apologise for myself I can’t apologise for anybody else, that’s up to them.

I absolutely apologise for the way that things have gone that makes any complainant feel that we have exploited them.

A Scottish government spokesman said:

We welcome the opportunity which the parliamentary inquiry and the externally led review bring to address issues which have been raised, and which we have acknowledged. We are committed to a learning process and will ensure that lessons from these proceedings are fully recognised.

The Scottish Government continues to support staff and discharge duty of care, including in relation to issues surrounding the Parliamentary committee. A range of support is available for anyone who should need it, and this has been communicated to staff.

Inquiry into Scottish Governments handling of Harassment
Convener Linda Fabiani offered an apology if women who came forward with complaints felt exploited by the inquiry (Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament/PA)

“Traumatic”

The whole saga has made it “much harder for women to be believed and for women to be able to come forward”, the accuser said. She added:

I think the committee has strayed so far from its own remit that it has made any of its findings completely useless.

I think that they really had an opportunity to ensure that they could investigate the creation of procedures that would make it safe and easy for women to come forward and they have made it significantly harder.

Criticising the way the committee has acted, she said:

It’s actually, in many ways, more traumatic than the experience of the High Court trial.

The woman said she hoped the committee could have been “impartial” and would “properly investigate the Government” in order to help eradicate sexual harassment and bullying in the workplace. She said:

Instead, what has happened is they have taken your very personal experiences and they have exploited them for their own self-serving political interests, and that in and of itself is something that’s really traumatic

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  • Show Comments
    1. I would be very wary of the comments made by any of Salmond’s accusers. His trial revealed that most of the 13 accusations made by 8 people were bogus. Eye witnesses testified to the fact that the incidents didn’t happen or were nigh on impossible and the mainly female jury agreed. In one incident the accuser was shown not to even have peen present at the meal at which she claimed a sexual assault had taken place. Since the trial, it has been revealed that the accusers were connected, and there is evidence that suggests that they conspired, the conspiracy allegedly being orchestrated from the very top of the SNP. If true it makes those who conspired guilty of trying to pervert the course of justice. It seems that the current enquiries are quite shy of pursuing the evidence that would show this – ruling it out of the evidence that will be considered and making the enquiries appear to be a sham. Now we see a Salmond-accuser posing in the press as if her claim had been found true and attempting to gain a sympathy vote. I see Nicola Sturgeon’s hand in this. Sturgeon is facing being ejected from her lucrative job as First Minister, and potentially being found out for perverting the course of justice. While she is in the position she is, with undue influence over the courts, she can attack and threaten those who are trying to expose her by pursuing yet more bogus charges through the Crown Office who support her – so there are people like Craig Murray (the man who exposed extraordinary rendition) being pursued for contempt of court. So she needs to present this as a court case gone wrong, in the sense that Alex Salmond is really guilty and should have been convicted (the trial found him not guilty of all 13 charges for very obvious reasons). So Sturgeon may possibly be using this woman to bolster the picture of women wronged to avoid her own downfall. Of course it WILL be stressful for the accusers, they are also at risk of prosecution if the evidence is allowed to be heard.

      1. Well said, Martin – 100% agree. Lots of apologies to the women, whose claims were heard by the jury, found to have been bogus and were duly dismissed, but none for Alex Salmond who faced a conspiracy that could have put him in jail for the rest of his days. It’s not surprising that an Establishment organisation such as the BBC is continuing its efforts to portray Salmond as guilty, but I am surprised that The Canary appears to he joining in.

    2. Martin Kernick, thanks for the fuller picture. I can’t deny, reading the above article put me very much in mind of reading the complaints of the “anti-semitism psyop” operatives when their plans didn’t go 100% as they liked.

      1. Well said Gnu, indeed Gender politics can be exploited in the same way that anti-semitism has – in a cynical and disturbing way. I wish the canary had gone deeper down the mine, as there’s a lot of dirt (y politics lol!) Craig Murray has written several articles and reported in great detail about the Trial, for a good example:
        https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2021/01/let-nobody-ever-state-again-there-is-no-evidence-of-the-conspiracy-against-alex-salmond/

    3. Don’t you find it interesting that The Canary felt the need to re-broadcast this article given the counter-information highlighted by Martin, apparently unaware of that information? An example of the qualiity of the investigative journalism here perhaps? I agree with Gnu and Davey Tee29 although my suspicions about The Canary have prompted me to stop subscribing as of next month.

    4. Let me say at the outset that I have no special knowledge as to the accusations being made on both sides as regards Mr Salmond (apart from the verdict of the jury, of course). However, just to echo what has already been said that I thought the Canary article lacked balance. Was there a conspiracy against Mr Salmon? I don’t know for sure. However, it does not take long to find blogs and other online articles outside the media mainstream that certainly would indicate that their is a case to answer by the Scottish establishment. I think that could have been reflected in the article without necessarily taking sides one way or another.

    5. This is a disgraceful article. Salmond was found not guilty of all charges by a female judge and a majority female jury. There were at least 7 independent female witnesses who publicly refuted the claims the women claimants made against him. Most of these incidents were in public in front of those or other witnesses. There was proven collusion in Court; 5 of the 9 claiments were on a whatsapp group about the allegations, and a text was presented in Court “I Have a Plan So That We Can Remain Anonymous But Have Maximum Effect”. All of this has been reported by Craig Murray on his website and by others, though not by the mainstream media. The Canary should withdraw this article, or at the very least report on the facts as presented in open Court and Salmond’s version of events.

    6. I’m normally a huge fan of this website, but this article should never have appeared. The parallels between the allegations against Julian Assange (now dropped once the charges were no longer likely to achieve anything), or the lies told against Jeremy Corbyn are clear, and the Canary should know better than to be fooled by people who act like this.
      I am no fan of Salmon’s nationalist policies, but we cannot lose sight of the simple facts: despite the main-stream media reporting the allegations in excruciating detail (and presenting precisely nothing of his defence) the Edinburgh jury, comprised predominantly of women, having listened to all the evidence, acquitted him on all charges.
      Although we have not been allowed to hear the fine detail of the defence, we know that it was not of the she-said, he-said variety; instead, witnesses attested to the simple fact that most of these allegations simply could not have occurred. There have also been serious suggestions that all but one of those accusing Salmon were in contact with one another, and many were his political opponents.
      The jury, under Scottish law found Salmon Not Guilty on all but one charge. To declare someone not-guilty, rather than the weaker not-proven can be reasonably taken to mean that the jury felt he was completely innocent of the charges i.e. it was not just that the prosecution had failed to prove their case.
      The Canary should not be associating itself with these failed allegations.

    7. “It is utterly absurd to suggest that nine women could be persuaded to lie to the police, to perjure themselves in court.”

      Well one accuser did lie, as the evidence showed she was not present on the occasion she claims Salmond assaulted her.

      For the rest, the suggestion is not that they were persuaded to lie to the police or to perjure themselves, but that they were pressured to make complaints where there was very little there upon which to secure a conviction, i.e., Salmond *did* make contact with a body part, but did so while opening a car door, or he *did* bump into someone on the stairs while in a hurry, but not in a manner consistent with an assault, sexual or otherwise. In other words, the complaints may have been rooted in genuine occurrences, but these incidents did not constitute criminal offences.

    8. Contrary to others what I see in this article is a criticism of the Scottish Government and its processes. It states quite clearly that Alex Salmond was found not guilty on all 13 counts and that the Court of Session found in his favour over the bias in the Scottish Government’s investigation.
      There is clearly something very amiss with this whole business and for the Canary not to report on further developments would be a neglect of their duty as an independent media outlet. Hopefully one day the truth will out.

      1. Much of the truth is already pretty much out there if you look properly. Yes it’s a criticism of the Scottish Government, but disappointing that it is superficial and poor journalism – as pointed out in the rest of the comments above.

      2. The article appears to be about a woman whingeing about how the Scottish government “let down” women who complained because of its unlawful investigation and how the subsequent inquiry has made it harder for women to come forward “and be believed”. The person who was actually let down by the SG investigation was Alex Salmond in that the court found that the inquiry had been unfair to him, not the women. As for trauma, one cannot imagine the trauma Alex Salmond must have felt waiting for a trial based on untrue allegations that could have ended with his being jailed and ruined. It’s just another case of women suggesting that in cases such as this the presumption must be that they should always be believed. It seems to me utterly unjust that even though their allegations against Salmond were soundly rejected by a jury that heard all the evidence they can continue to hide behind their anonymity orders while portraying themselves as victims. Rather, it is surely Alex Salmond who is the real victim of this sorry mess.

        A short time ago The Canary quite rightly railed against the present fashion for witchhunts. I’m disappointed to see that they appear to be joining in this one.

    9. How could you get this so wrong? I have been a huge supporter of The Canary from the start but this is very worrisome. You know about Craig Murray’s extensive coverage of the trial, how can you leave this garbage article online? Very concerning

    10. “It is utterly absurd to suggest that nine women could be persuaded to lie to the police, to perjure themselves in court.”

      Why is it “utterly absurd”, especially when that is what the jury found? Some of the accusations were proven in court to be wholly false, i.e. made up, i.e. lies, i.e. perjury.

    11. This is almost as bad as the one-sided, lazy and biased reporting you see put out by the likes of Guido Fawkes. Salmond was cleared by a jury in a court of law. That means he’s innocent and that’s where it should end. Anything that comes after that, especially from anonymous sources, is the same kind of evil witch-hunt that Jeremy Corbyn was subjected to and has no place on a website with independent media l campaigning journalism plastered all over it.

      This combined with other weirdly puzzling articles and a sudden rise in unfair censoring of totally fair comments is rather depressing and extremely disappointing as one can only assume that The Canary has caved in to right-wing pressure and/or has been seduced by right-wing money.

      I’m done with this place.

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