FUHGEDDABOUDIT

Last Tuesday, Judith Mackinnon told the Salmond inquiry that:

“I have experience in HR procedures and investigations. What I did not have was experience of a judicial review process. I did not understand the separate and distinct legal tests that take place in the judicial review process and would have found it beneficial to have understood that in a lot more detail prior to the process beginning.”

Previous Scottish Government witnesses Leslie Evans and Nicola Richards have said essentially the same thing in their evidence.

We should be thankful, then, that these witnesses didn’t decide to hire a hit-man to take Salmond down. I mean, the script would write itself:

“I have experience in the procedures of taking goodfellas for one-way rides. What I did not have was experience of High Court murder trials. I did not understand the separate and distinct legal tests that take place in the criminal process and would have found it beneficial to have understood that in a lot more detail prior to the whacking.”

But back in what we like to think is the real world…

Can it truly be possible that these highly qualified and very highly paid professionals still don’t understand that what was being applied at the Salmond judicial review was nothing more nor less than the ordinary law of Scotland as it relates to their supposed areas of expertise?

Will anyone at the Salmond inquiry ever point out that they acted in breach of that law because they are all unfit for their jobs?

39 thoughts on “FUHGEDDABOUDIT

  1. Well, I can only agree that they all do seem to be unfit for their jobs/roles/responsibilities – and to be wholly unaware that that’s how they come across. I hope it is pointed out to them. I noted that Alex Cole-Hamilton just came out and said ‘this procedure was tailored for,,,’.

    I’ve only just finished watching this evidence session with Judith MacKinnon then Barbara Allison. It was interesting. Overall there were a lot more ‘I don’t know’s rather that ‘I can’t remember’s, a lot more ‘Yes.’ ‘No.’ Abrupt answers, still the same number of ‘it wisnae me’s though.

    I mean, obviously everyone is going to be doing some amount of ass-covering in any inquiry like this – only our erstwhile ex-permanent secretary Mr Housdon, or was that Sir? I may have his name wrong – appeared to not have a guilty bone in his body. But then, he’s the epitome of the professional civil servant and he’s got it down pat.

    So, patterns: all the civil servants have been versed on what to say about the procedure – it’s all paragraph 10’s fault (it wisnae me) – and to keep repeating it whatever the question. MacKinnon was the worst, sounded obvious she was repeating what she was told to say. Judith MacKinnon – she says she has 15 years experience at ‘director’ level, then proceeds to talk like she’s a trainee. I was exasperated at her evidence.

    I have to agree with Jackie Baillie’s eye-rolling, head-shaking, face-palming moments (the good thing about JM bring voice only is we get to see committee’s expressions come out) when the absolute dim-witted answers to ‘you’ve just wasted over five hundred grand in government money, would you have done anything differently’.(no, haha)… But the worst was their inability to see that there is anything wrong that – they rushed this procedure through in a couple of months – and she effectively said just to suit the ‘situation’ – and they know a ‘misinterpretation’ of paragraph 10 cost hundreds of thousands of pounds in court – but they’ve still just sat on it for two years doing nothing to prevent it happening again?! And that’s fine and dandy??

    Groan. They are going to drag this out to the nth degree.

    So, either the procedure was tailored for nefarious purposes, and will never be used again so who cares if it is fixed. Or, they are all incompetent. Or both. And they don’t care about spending our money wisely, or about being incompetent. You obviously have to be a certain ‘type’ of person to work in that part of the civil service.

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    1. Good stuff Contrary, and your last paragraph gets to the heart of where all this will unravel — in the things that Sturgeon and her Government can’t have both ways.

      Of course we know that the procedure was only for Salmond and there is not the slightest chance it will ever be used again. But if it wasn’t, things are almost as bad as bad for them for the reasons you give.

      Similarly, it’s obvious the moment you think about it properly that Sturgeon knew about the Salmond complaints from the start. But if she didn’t, things are again just as bad for her because then, for no reason at all, she removed herself from a procedure in which she should have been front and centre, and actively enabled unelected civil servants to run this vital aspect of her Government unlawfully behind her back.

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      1. Gordon, I have only heard one possible justification for Sturgeon removing herself from the Former Minister process. It came from a Surgeon supporter. The justification being it would not be right to have an SNP FM judging say a Former Labour FM. Of course it also takes the SNP FM out of judging any former SNP minister.

        I do not agree with this attempted justification. To me It just helps to show how this process should never have been contemplated at all. As Hynd said in his testimony he could not find any other example of this process for FORMER ministers anywhere else in the world to see how they have done it – no best practice examples anywhere in the world. Perhaps there is a reason for that – because it is a stupid thing to do – and they only did it in Scotland to get Salmond.

        It was an attempt to smear Salmond and when that failed they doubled down on their “war” on Salmond and conveniently found all these other people in Scotgov circles and SNP circles to lodge criminal complaints.

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      2. In my post above re a possible justification for Sturgeon being omitted for involvement I should have also pointed out that sect 17 of the new procedure, says anyway, that if it is a former minister of another party who refuses to cooperate it will be passed back to the party leader after investigation and the party will decide any future action. So that suggested justification will not apply in most instances.

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      3. Good find Cubby.

        I was thinking that that justification had some merit even if it was just made-up. We know it’s made-up, because none of the witnesses have even tried to pass off that excuse. Yet.

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    2. Logic, too much logic there Gordon. They’re puddling us in detail and misdirection and yet, what you say is so obvious and clear – they can’t have it both ways.

      Indeed, the obscuring of that key change to the procedure – removing totally the FM’s role in all ways on the final draft, a last minute change not made by the main author – needs interrogation and clarity brought to it. There is no way the FM knew nothing of it. (Or,,,)

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  2. The way things are looking I suspect the heat will fall on the legal staff at Scot gov.

    I was hopeful that at the very least there would be 2 or 3 resignations at the end of this but have ma doors noo.

    A bunch of arrogant overpaid thickos.

    The msps on the committee don’t seem terribly motivated either except for jb who is doing a very good impression of a dog with a bone.

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  3. I should also say – even though there was some chat about the procedure in the previous thread, I wasn’t totally paying attention, so this committee meeting has only really just emphasised for me the actual fact that – despite the procedure being deemed unlawful by a court of law – despite the controversy surrounding it – despite a key part of it being identified that’s at fault – the civil service STILL has it as a live procedure – they haven’t suspended it in any way! They haven’t amended it, they haven’t withdrawn it, they are ‘waiting’ for some stupid review, they have it as a continuing live document as part of their procedures – unaltered.

    And we all know that they can amend procedures pretty damn fast, when they feel the need.

    I can only assume that they somehow think that keeping it in place, unaltered, somehow shows how justified they were in using it, and how much faith they have in it. [face-Palm, shake of head, sighs in despair]. They have ALL admitted, reluctantly, that paragraph 10 ‘could be misinterpreted’ – that’s enough reason to amend it! Never mind the rest of it. Unbelievable.

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    1. Contrary, extremely high levels of arrogance being demonstrated by all these people. They obviously think they are untouchable. They obviously think they have the backing of very powerful people. It is not based on ability or competence this arrogance. I mean when you have a dimwit like Cole-Hamilton almost high fiving Baillie in a gotcha moment against MacKinnon then that says it all.

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  4. MaggieC over on Wings (sorry for the copypaste MaggieC) gives useful comments and links like this:

    ——————————

    Re Harassment and Complaints Committee meeting today ,

    The Committee will next meet on 3 November at 10:15am, when it will take evidence from Paul Cackette, former Director of Legal Services, Scottish Government; and then from Sarah Davidson, former Director General Organisational Development and Operations, Scottish Government.

    “ From Paul Cackette’s LinkedIn page ,
    The Scottish Government
    1988 – Present32 years
    Deputy Solicitor to the Scottish Government “

    “Sarah Davidson was appointed as the first Chief Executive Officer of The Carnegie UK Trust in August 2019. Sarah’s previous role from 2014 was Director General Communities at The Scottish Government, having been an experienced civil servant since 1995, covering both policy and service delivery. Her previous roles have included Scottish Government Director of Communications; Director for Local Government and Communities and acting Director of Human Resources and Organisational Development.

    Previous experience includes Head of Cabinet Secretariat, Ministerial private secretary and a four-year secondment to the Scottish Parliament where she established the Public Audit and Finance Committees and was Director of the Holyrood Building Project Team. “

    https://www.bitc.org.uk/sarah-davidson/

    Public papers for today’s meeting ,

    Click to access 20201103SGHHCPublicPapers.pdf

    -————————-

    Hopefully those links show up properly – the last one gives a usefully summary of evidence taken to date.

    (And apologies to Gordon for overwhelming the comments already, I’ll not get a chance to comment for ages now though, so you’ll be free of me!)

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  5. The link worked for me. If you click on written evidence the letters to Lloyd and Somers on the 29/Oct are still there.

    As more evidence is made available from the committee’s investigations it has only reinforced my view that Sturgeon knew everything and right from the beginning of this disgraceful scandal. The scandal being a Sturgeon and a wide supporting cast in the Scotgov and SNP scandal not a Salmond scandal. Police Scotland and COPFS ain’t looking to great in this whole nasty business either.

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  6. The Scottish Parliament Inquiry have now lodged copies of papers received from Salmond’s lawyers re the judicial review on their section of the Scotgov website. Even a quick look at some of the papers shows just how unfair/unjust the whole process was. It was designed and operated on a one sided basis – the accusers were right, Evans was the Judge, jury, defence and prosecutor. Evans controlled all access to all evidence and all access ( which was none for Salmond) to the complainers. As a small concession Evans suggested Salmonds lawyers could put a couple iof questions to the complainers but only if MacKinnon agreed the questions and they were to be asked by MacKinnon personally – joke. Evans and the rest of their team clearly have no idea of the basics of fairness and justice. There is no way these people should be holding any position in a Scottish government.

    It is no wonder that Salmonds team were 100% sure they would win a judicial review. I find it hard to believe that the Scotgovs external legal advice did not tell them the same. So again, Evans lied when she claimed the judicial review was lost due to a small procedural error. The decision to proceed to a judicial review was clearly a misuse of public funds and was done to smear Salmond.

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    1. They did get external legal advice, didn’t they? We just don’t know from who yet I think. But yes, why didn’t they advise it was a lost cause? I think Leslie Evans has been lying through her teeth on everything – she should have been suspended immediately when the judicial review case was lost, until it was fully investigated.

      And what was the legal department doing, pursuing it – particularly after being offered arbitration. Only one reason you’d not go for that; because you *want* the publicity.

      And the decision to not go through mediation,,, Anyone having been traumatised by harassment would have tried anything else first – who wants to go to court, even if you have all your legal fees paid. But then, it has only been implied that not going through mediation was the complainers choices. You always start at the lowest level to try and resolve issues – surely an offer of mediation from the person being complained about would be taken up in the first place? If those complaining were too traumatised to face the person – they wouldn’t be going through a harassment procedure at all, they’d have gone straight to the police.

      Every single one of Leslie Evans’ decisions was aimed at gaining maximum publicity wasn’t it? Does she have the authority to instruct the legal team I wonder? (To, say, go ahead even if it’s a lost cause).

      And why did Nicola Sturgeon extend Evans’ contract? Totally unnecessary, and tells us she thinks Evans has been doing a good job,,,

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      1. Contrary, I believe the Scot Parliament are having a vote today (Wed) to try to force the Scotgov to release the legal advice they got. My guess is that the Scotgov are hiding it because it tells them that they will lose the judicial review and that will mean that Evans went ahead and wasted public funds on a case she was told she would lose and of course Sturgeon would know that was the situation and did nothing to stop her and therefore could not discipline Evans because Sturgeon sanctioned it.

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      2. Cubby, I’ve just seen that about the vote in Holyrood over on Wings – I was just wondering what evil the wall-to-wall coverage of US elections was covering up in Whitehall – I forgot our own parliament/government might be using it to obscure their own interesting things. (I’ve given my own, grumpy, opinion on that ‘news’ coverage there, so won’t rant about it here).

        I wonder what the chances are of that vote going through? It could be very relevant if it does, and I assume it won’t be good for ScotGov and NS’s coterie, otherwise they’d have been blaring it from the rooftops well before now.

        We also have the first stage of the s.30 case today (Wednesday). Unfortunately I have work and not a spare minute to skive just now, so will miss it all as it happens.

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      3. Well the Scottish Parliament voted for the Legal advice to be made public. Today at FMQs Sturgeon said it would mean Ministers breaking the ministerial code – she read out the actual words. She said that to divulge the advice the code also says that the lawyers who provided the advice must agree. Finally, she said it was for Swinney to decide the course of action to take as she had recused herself from responsibility for providing the inquiry with info it wants.

        This is an FM who seems to have tried to avoid any responsibility for any of this whole scandal but of course;

        she did know about the complainers in Nov 2017;

        her office did revise the new Harrassment process in Dec 2017 to exclude her from any involvement ( for the most part);

        she did sign off the process which was and still is patently unfair and unjust;

        she did let the judicial review proceed despite Salmond telling her that his laywers were clear that the Scotgov would lose;

        she did lie to parliament both in writing and verbally as to when she knew about the complaints.

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      4. And can I assume that Nicola Sturgeon sounded all very reasonable and plausible as she presented her excuses? I take it she didn’t say anything like ‘I’ve already broken the ministerial code at least once, so don’t want to be doing that again!’?

        And it’s up to John Swinney, of course: the ‘useful’ man in her cabinet.

        She keeps saying publicly that the government are providing all the evidence, and it’s got nothing to do with her (of course) – which puts Linda Fabiani in the awkward position of having to say they haven’t provided evidence asked for but avoid contradicting the FM. I heard Ms Fabiani rant on the radio a few weeks ago about the government withholding evidence, then, when she was asked about NS, she gave a rather weak reply of ‘I’m sure Nicola is being as transparent as she can be’. Not exactly resounding backing there, but avoiding overt criticism. Interesting that our media – usually slathering at any mention of SNP criticism, didn’t press the subject or even comment on it.

        You are right Cubby, even with all her plausible deniability excuses, there is still enough evidence there that shows NS was embedded in the whole fiasco at all times.

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  7. Gordon it is also clear from reading the new docs lodged by the Scot parliament inquiry from Salmonds lawyers that Salmond did not submit to the procedure and therefore Evans should have informed Sturgeon as per Section 16 of their own procedure. Of course no one has said that has happened in the their submissions – so Evans did not follow her own procedure in this particular regard – or did she – I doubt she bothered because Sturgeon already knew everything right from the beginning.

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    1. Cubby
      That is such an important observation that I’ve drawn attention to it on Craig Murray’s blog as well. However, the procedure doesn’t explicity say when the FM is to be advised: at the first sign of non-cooperation; or when the investigation is complete. Maybe that gave some wriggle room?

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      1. Robert, you are correct that it is not crystal clear but a reasonable interpretation would be when the accused states he is not submitting to the process is when Sturgeon should be notified. To think they went through something like 8 iterations of this process and it was still rubbish at the end .

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  8. Agreed.

    It’s not a well-drafted procedure – the English isn’t good, and there is at least one typo (comma in wrong place). “Haste” springs to mind.

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  9. Still can’t get my head round the utter lack of sound legal advice across the board. They do this, not having a scoobie about the law; they introduce policies that contravene existing law; and they refuse to back off even when they know they are in breach of everything in the book, costing the SG (and the taxpayer) millions. Their disregard for the law and the democratic process are entirely reminiscent of Johnson and Trump, and the barefaced arrogance would give both of those madmen a run for their money.

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    1. I have not kept up to date with the ahem granularity of the case perhaps. There are aspects of the behaviour of Judith Mackinnon that I find very puzzling.

      On her appointment, given her previous experience and the absence of similar experience within the group of her new, senior colleagues, Ms Mackinnon must have anticipated that she would usually act as the Investigating Officer, particularly in cases of allegations of serious misconduct.

      At fairly junior levels in HR departments it is well known that, when investigating complaints of misconduct, it is important not only to be impartial in the conduct of the investigation but to appear to be impartial. See this old warhorse. https://app.croneri.co.uk/topics/disciplinary-procedures/guide-conducting-investigations-misconduct

      I can’t understand why Ms Mackinnon would involve herself in any way with prospective complaints when she must have known she would likely be doing the investigation into those complaints. Did Ms Richards not tell the Committee that no one, other than Ms Mackinnon, had the necessary experience to do the task of Investigating Officer?

      Also, a reasonable observer might, in Ms Mackinnon’s position, have thought it useful to tell her senior colleagues, including the Perm Sec, that contact with a prospective complainant who had the most serious of allegations to make, could undermine (as it did) the whole process of any complaint that was made. It might have been thought useful to put any such communication in writing so that there was a formal record of it. Perhaps, also to include in such a note a reference to the Civil Service Code of Conduct which requires civil servants to behave impartially.

      It is also clear from the Open Record of the JR that the investigation by Ms Mackinnon seems to be seriously flawed and would not stand scrutiny. It is manifestly unfair to Mr Salmond according to the Open Record, failing as it does, among other things, to pay attention to what information might be provided by Mr Salmond’s witnesses. Given her experience, I have no doubt that Ms Mackinnon would have been aware of the inadequacy of the investigation. I assume there would have been discussions among senior civil servants about the nature of the investigations to be undertaken. Ms Mackinnon’s production of such flawed work as recorded in the Open Record leaves her vulnerable to carrying the can.

      Now her work is irredeemably tainted. She has betrayed the trust implicit in the task of being an investigating officer. She has failed to act impartially, failed to establish and disclose all the relevant facts around the complaints. She has paid no regards to the rights of Mr Salmond. Her actions have contributed to large financial costs for the SG.

      Were it not for the fact that the Perm Sec and the SG supported Ms Mackinnon’s actions (and maybe helped determine them) she would already have been obliged to leave her job.

      A deeply flawed investigation led to a deeply flawed hearing for Mr Salmond, if it can be called that.

      I doubt that Judith Mackinnon is a fool or incompetent with regard to carrying out disciplinary investigations. The desired end was the hearing of the complaints accompanied by the ending of Mr Salmond’s political career.

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    2. Hi Sam, you seem to be wading through the ahem granules fairly well 😉

      You could spend a decade picking apart all the information that the committee has published!

      I was just wading through the documents submitted by Alex Salmond’s lawyers there (and dozed off half way through so still haven’t finished). It the second up from bottom of this list of documents:
      https://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/CurrentCommittees/115759.aspx

      And, like everything we have seen so far in the evidence, I think it’s remarkable that this was ever allowed to happen – let alone how the Scottish Government would think to defend themselves in court, there is no way the legal advice would advise fighting this in the judicial review (surely).

      Judith MacKinnon’s behaviour is puzzling,,, but then I doubt the humanity of many of the players in this, so maybe not totally puzzling. And reading the letters from Alex’s lawyers there reminds me that Leslie Evans was fully aware of all actions that were carried out (unlike her first evidence session where she claimed to barely talk to anyone, and couldn’t remember anything that was said) and who was doing them.

      I am going to disagree with you about Mackinnon though – I think she IS a fool, and is incompetent. She claims a wealth of experience, but comes across like a teenage trainee, and she obviously doesn’t know what she’s doing (from all you’ve outlined). I suspect she will be the scapegoat, which I hope is not allowed to happen – Leslie Evans appointed her even though she’s incompetent (because she was a willing conspirator?), so they all need to go. I can’t believe out of the entirety of the civil service she was the only one ‘capable’ of being IO. There are thousands of civil servants! (And another few thousand extra quietly installed in St Andrews house I believe).

      The clues of what was in the report that Mackinnon produced from the harassment claims sounds a bit like the ‘yellow card’ system that Lulu Bells explained in the previous thread – anonymous accusations are made and the person complained about would be disciplined for it with no evidence – she seems to have been throwing in any old complaint however general from multiple unspecified sources, then expecting Alex Salmond to respond without knowing who, when or where. She certainly isn’t professional, and sounds thick as mince. I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t have orchestrated any of this anyway.

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      1. Hi Contrary

        It is a long time since I worked in industrial relations. I saw the great increase in employment law among the legal profession. This, and the establishing of case law from UK courts and the ECJ, did much to establish what is good practice in employment. Certainly among larger organisations it is now well known what is acceptable practice and what is not. That is why I think Ms Mackinnon knew what she was doing – she was competent – and knew that it was not good practice and a denial of natural justice. She did it anyway.

        Is she a fool? I think there was peer pressure and political pressure from the SG to do down Mr Salmond. Hard to resist.

        To be an investigating officer I think a certain level of seniority is needed.

        Over the course of my work experience, I have repeatedly seen HR people themselves, in all kinds of organisations, depart from good practice and their own procedures or permit those they are advising to do so. They pay for it, usually.

        By the way, there is some academic research into the behaviour of trade unions regarding their members.Trade unions that are dominated by men will permit illegal discrimination against female members of the union. The few trade unions that are dominated by women tolerate such behaviour towards male members of the union.

        It is interesting to me to watch the body language of the Committee members. Eye rolling and rueful smiles are increasing in frequency, indicating more open displays of frustration at what they are being told. It may also signal a Committee united in purpose. It is not too far a distance until they are pointing at the witnesses and hooting with laughter. I have a feeling they are going to screw this lot. As a strong supporter of Scottish independence I hope so.

        Keep posting. Smiley thing.

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      2. Haha, yes, the committee members are certainly being more open with their disdain – how far it will go, we can only speculate. But maybe it’s time to get some popcorn in? It will be interesting to see Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond being interviewed – you would think they’d treat Alex Salmond, as the wronged party, with respect. But who knows.

        Ah well now, seniority – I have a thing about seniority, where people are often rewarded for incompetence by being promoted – to ‘keep them out of harms way’. I’m not sure if this is done in HR, but certainly in industries where your colleague might, say, accidentally weld your face to a bulkhead, it seems to be common practice to give them a managerial role. I thought that’s where managers came from 😉

        Interesting stuff about Trade Unions – I have no illusions about them being fair or anything, but it’s telling when an organisation that claims to support fairness, is proved to not be! And it just goes to show – equal numbers men and women is a better balance where possible. I would have thought a reasonable mix would have been enough, right enough, but I suppose people will always be people.

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  10. Martin Keatings, who is leading for us on the s.30 case, has summarised the arguments put forward by the interested parties in a Twitter thread

    https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1323979553350602752.html

    He couldn’t say anything before it became closed record (legalese is a strange language) – but it turns out the Lord Advocate (representing Scottish ministers and Scottish Parliament) and the Advocate General (representing the UK government) had the exact same arguments – that is, that the case should not be heard.

    They have made no argument to or for the substance of the case! I assume this is why the Scottish government withdrew – they were just trying to get the case stopped (after delaying it as long as possible), and so – in the interests of plausible deniability, something that the First Minister is SO good at – they had to get out before anything was published and we could see for ourselves that the Scottish government opposes finding out if they can lawfully legislate for a referendum on independence. I haven’t read any of the documents yet, but Martin Keatings has been good to date with keeping us informed with progress.

    The case is going to be heard, despite the best efforts of both our governments, but not until probably early January (scheduled for a 2 day hearing).

    Are there really people out there that still believe Nicola Sturgeon has any intention of holding an independence referendum? It’s a strange way to go about it, doing her damnedest to prevent any progress towards one. This along with the harassment committee evidence – and the internal SNP issues with no transparency and such like – is showing a very cruel and deceptive person beneath the veneer of polished political presentation.

    I have wracked my brain to try and think of even only a vaguely rational reason why someone in a position to give us a referendum, claims to want want one, and is in the position she is in on the promise of delivering one, does not want to find out if she can ‘legally’ do so? Any insights, my learned friends?

    We don’t even need a referendum, if she were determined. ‘Sturgeon Out’ might be a good chant for a protest march,,, if we were allowed one.

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  11. If I was the First Minister when the details of the allegations landed on David Clegg’s desk, I would have been apoplectic as the content of these victim statements were confidential and known by very few individuals in Holyrood.

    You could probably number them using the fingers of one hand.

    The Daily Record dutifully informed the FM’s office that they had a story that needed answers.

    ‘Acting on a tip off, we submitted a series of questions to the Scottish Government on October 31 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.’

    How legal folk carefully word their statements is something they presumably learn at university as baby lawyers. So what is the purpose of using ‘live’ as the adjective of choice here?

    You’d have thought Nicola would be on the scent of who divulged this legally live case to David Clegg. But no, there has been no attempt to hunt the mole, which in itself makes you wonder what this administration is capable of achieving with some degree of competence.

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    1. Someone over on Wings has commented that Liz Lloyd is a known associate of David Clegg,,, if that association was used, I’m sure the First Minister had no need to launch any inquiries.

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  12. Let me commend you on an excellent series of articles Gordon. You are providing wonderful legal and process based analysis to complement the more politically focussed bloggers.

    I do detect a level of frustration from you and your other correspondents (who are also making some excellent contributions it should be said) with the committee in terms of the questions they don’t ask and also about their lack of verbalised observations.

    Hopefully, I can ease that frustration a bit.

    The committee knows much more than we on the outside are allowed to know. (AC-H clumsily made that very clear in his contribution to the debate on releasing the legal advice yesterday.) Accordingly, they may already know the answers to some of the questions we might wish they asked in public. (BTW, I have no doubt that this blog is being followed by some committee members and their support staff.)

    We should remember that the committee members are not trying to convince a judge or jury of a particular case. It is their job to come to a conclusion for themselves. If they have private (written or oral) evidence for something there is absolutely no requirement for them to obtain the evidence in public also.

    Further, there is no need for them to make any public statements about their view of any evidence given to them or the competence of those providing it. The place for that is their report at the end of proceedings. Indeed, making any statement in advance of that would potentially prejudice their ability to pursue their investigations.

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    1. GeeK, well I can only hope that dimwit Cole- Hamilton does read this blog – so that I can keep calling him the dimwit he truly is.😂😂😂😂😂 Just as well he has Baillie to keep him up to speed.

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  13. To Contrary:

    Of the links you posted on the previous article, to the letters from Fabiani to Somers and Lloyd, only one is working – the Somers letter. I’m getting a 404 on the Lloyd link.

    Can you please check it again yourself and re-post it if it’s working. If it’s not we’ll have to work out why it’s been removed and where to find it now.

    Thanks

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    1. Update: The Lloyd letter link doesn’t work, but for you or anyone else who needs to access it, you can go through this link:
      https://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/CurrentCommittees/115516.aspx
      and get a full list of letters sent out.

      Incidentally, the letter to Lloyd is dated 29 Oct and appears on the list as having been sent out on 29 Oct, but the file name indicates that it was dated 21 Oct:
      20201021ConvenertoLizLloyd(2).pdf

      Lloyd is due to provide an answer today (6 Nov). She has been specifically asked if she attended either of the two meetings between John Somers and one of the complainants that are known to have taken place in November 2017. It is known that at least one other person was at one of the meetings, and John Somers has likewise been asked to confirm this by today, but annoyingly he has not been asked to name the person.

      Should the Committee manage to drag an answer out of Lloyd and should it transpire that she was in one of the meetings, this would mean that by the time that Leslie Evans met Sturgeon on 29 November 2017, all three of the following had specific knowledge of one or both of the complaints and complainers:

      Leslie Evans – Permanent Secretary to the Scottish Government
      Liz Lloyd – First Minister’s Chief of Staff
      John Somers – First Minister’s Private Secretary

      And we are supposed to believe that not one of these people said a word to Sturgeon about the matter, even though under both the existing procedure and the new one as it then was, Sturgeon had both a right to know, and a duty to know as she was responsible for taking charge of the investigation. And none of these people had a single legitimate reason for not telling her.

      In terms of painting yourself into a corner, I would say that Nippy Sweetie is now straining on tiptoes. I suppose with one final supreme effort she can still shift all her weight onto one foot before she finally topples over.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Yeah, sorry about the supposed links – direct ones to the PDF don’t appear to work here, which is very irritating if you are trying to reference something, and the pages with the links on are constantly updated so it can be hard to find things again. I haven’t found a way around it yet.

      I’ve noticed in evidence given on the timeline of the Judicial Review submitted by the Scottish Government, it says that the Permanent Secretary was aware of complaints at least by 22nd November 2017 – I’m assuming there is evidence is there to show this (otherwise why write it in the timeline) but I don’t know where yet. It’s a morass!

      It would be good to know where Somers and Lloyd fit it – certainly they are missed out of most of the general documents I’ve been through. With the meeting on the 29th and Leslie Evans being aware of the complaints for at least a week, it would be truly odd for the FM not to have been informed then. The rapid reappraisal of the precedure after this date – to exclude the FM as the decision maker – would imply the meeting had an effect. It’s all implications though – with so much info redacted I don’t know if we will ever have actual proof.

      Like

  14. A very good summary altogether. Certainly brings together the extent of the plot against Alex Salmond.

    The sty is indeed rotten to the core and prosecutions are I believe needed. But the issue is now this.

    Sturgeon and the coterie of control took a detour down the road of the utterly illegal abuse of power. In doing so they have shown the government , the apparatus of government, the prosecution service to be as corrupt as one would see in a South American banana republic. The only thing missing was the brutal beating of Salmond to be left prostrate in a ditch at the side of the road.

    But the issue is worse than this. With Sturgeon and the coterie of control refusing to stand down, the unionist MSM will rip the SNP apart come May when they will expose remorselessly the ruthless illegality of Sturgeon and the clique.

    As a nearly forty years a member of the SNP will never accept this scum like this as a government. We need to rid the party and the movement of people like Sturgeon and Murrell. And we need to do it now.

    Thank you Gordon for summarising where we are.

    Like

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