SALMOND INQUIRY UPDATE

In my last post I described how, on 29 November 2017, senior civil servants Nicola Richards and Judith Mackinnon sought to share the draft procedure they were developing for harassment complaints against former Ministers with “Ms A”, a woman who went on to make a formal complaint of sexual harassment against Alex Salmond in January 2018.

Further documents supplied by Scottish Government officials and published now by the Salmond inquiry show that Ms A did indeed meet with Richards and Mackinnon – on 5 December 2017.

The documents include a timeline updated by Richards on 6 December 2017 and sent to Mackinnon at 22.28 that evening. According to Richards, in her letter last week to the Chair of the inquiry, “This document notes the meeting with Ms A – this took place on 5 December 2017 where the draft procedure was referred to in hard copy.”

The timeline features two entries for 5 December. The first entry says:

“NR/JMack meet Ms A”

The purpose of the meeting between Richards, Mackinnon and Ms A is then recorded as follows: “Sought views on draft policy – whether this would have helped her at the time and how to put in place safeguards for the future.”

The remaining text in the first entry has then been redacted by the Scottish Government.

The second entry for 5 December is somewhat cryptic:

“NR/Perm Sec – 1:1”

One interpretation is that, after meeting with Ms A, Richards had a one-to-one meeting with Permanent Secretary Leslie Evans.

It appears that Richards then worked late into the evening. Just before midnight, at 23.34 that same day, she sent out her “recast” version of the complaints procedure – see the previous post below for full details.

In her email attaching the recast – sent to Judith Mackinnon, James Hynd and “Lawyer 1” – she began, “As discussed today, I’ve made some revisions to the process…”

The timeline also features an entry for 6 December 2017: “Revised policy agreed with legal and submitted to Perm Sec”. In her email to Mackinnon attaching the timeline and the recast procedure, Richards confirmed: “I’ve updated the timeline – and this is the final version of the policy I’ve sent to Perm Sec.”

Evidently, the civil servants were very confident that, within a day of its having been created, the recast procedure would now be the final one.

They were right.

The recast procedure was approved by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on 20 December 2017 after only the most minor of changes.

On oath

I present this further update without comment.

On 1 December 2017 at 12:10, Nicola Richards, the “Director of People”, emailed James Hynd, Head of the Cabinet secretariat: “Would you be able to send me the latest version of the process? I agreed with Perm Sec that I would test it with some key individuals.”

At 14.43 that same day, Hynd replied, attaching the latest version of the draft procedure as requested. “Here you are,” he wrote.

On 25 August 2020, in his evidence on oath to the Salmond inquiry, James Hynd said this:

“To be clear – if I was not earlier – the first that I heard about any allegations was, I think, on 24 August 2018, when there were press reports. I knew nothing before then about any complainer or anybody raising concerns. I knew nothing about the appointment of any investigating officer or about any sharing of the draft procedure with any individuals.”

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