THE INSTITUTIONAL BIAS OF COPFS

In an encouraging display of backbone, the Convenor of the Salmond inquiry has written to the Lord Advocate pointing out that if Barbara Allison and the Scottish Government can use COPFS as their own private data store, then maybe it’s time the Lord Advocate provided the same service for the inquiry.

As the Convenor points out — with commendable understatement — in her letter, the provision to Allison of copies of the text messages she had requested “demonstrates that there may be material held by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service which is relevant to the Committee’s remit”.

The inquiry is therefore seeking from COPFS “any information, for example communications between officials, related to the conduct of the judicial review and the Scottish Government’s decision to concede”.

The Convenor has made it clear in her letter that the inquiry “will treat all information in accordance with the relevant court orders and data protection law” so there is not the slightest excuse for COPFS to substitute their own definition of what is “related” to the inquiry’s remit for the view of the inquiry. They should simply turn over all of the material they hold in which officials and politicians discuss the complaints made against Salmond before, during and after the judicial review, and leave it for the inquiry to decide what parts of it are “related” to the inquiry’s remit.

No other witness gets to decide what is and isn’t relevant to the inquiry’s remit and nor should COPFS. It is outrageous that Salmond’s lawyers have been threatened with criminal prosecution simply for trying to provide the inquiry with vital evidence that COPFS are withholding. It becomes almost laughable when that same institution provides exactly that information to a witness who has, on behalf of the Scottish Government, given false information on oath to the inquiry and is trying desperately to dig herself out of the hole she has dug for herself and for the Government.

If that is not bias that would be apparent to any reasonable observer then the concept of “apparent bias” ceases to have any useful meaning. It is apparent bias that must be redressed immediately by full cooperation with the inquiry’s request, which means full disclosure to the inquiry of all of the material which Salmond’s lawyers have identified as relevant and which COPFS have continued to withhold (with the exception of the Allison texts, of course, which were a central part of that withheld material but magically became disclosable the moment a Scottish Government witness asked for them).

We have had endless evidence before the inquiry to date which has been “relevant” to the inquiry’s remit only by the widest and most generous possible interpretation of that remit. That goes with the territory in proceedings of this kind. If some of what must now be disclosed by COPFS falls into that category then it can be disregarded or distinguished by the inquiry, along with the mountains of other irrelevant evidence already heard, when the inquiry comes to make its findings and publish its report.

But it is not for COPFS to make that decision. It is for COPFS now to stop obstructing justice and start facilitating it.

Here, then, is a brief reminder of what is already in the public domain, and of why that is likely to be the merest tip of the iceberg of what is relevant to the conduct of the Scottish Government, its First Minister, its politicians and its officials in relation to the Salmond investigation and judicial review.

The tip of the iceberg

The defence submissions at the preliminary hearings prior to Alex Salmond’s criminal trial were widely reported in the mainstream Scottish press in March this year after Salmond was acquitted of all of the charges against him. The Scottish Government’s unlawful conduct and subsequent humiliation at judicial review were central to almost all of those submissions. Further revelations since then have only confirmed that the judicial review proceedings, and the reaction of the Scottish Government to the loss of that “battle”, lie at the heart of the war that followed.

At preliminary hearings prior to his trial, Salmond’s defence team argued that the charges, which came just over a fortnight after he won the judicial review, were the result of concerted efforts by the First Minister’s inner circle to deflect public attention away from the disastrous outcome of the court case. They argued that the claims against him were whipped up as a form of reprisal, and to distract from the debacle of the judicial review.

Salmond’s lead counsel Gordon Jackson QC submitted that senior Scottish Government figures were furious when Salmond won the judicial review. They wanted to ensure that he was “totally discredited”. The criminal investigation had been encouraged “because of what happened in the other process”.

It was in this context that Jackson quoted the text from Leslie Evans to an “unnamed person” which read:

“We may lose the battle but we will win the war.”

Unless Evans sent more than one such message, it now appears that the actual message was the slightly different one which Barbara Allison has now revealed as having been sent to her on the day the judicial review was conceded in court:

“… [B]attle maybe lost but not the war….”

Jackson then went on to outline how the “war” to recover from the “disaster” was fought. He submitted that the judicial review defeat had been a “pretty serious scandal” and that “people were extremely nervous” about the outcome. He advised the court that a “huge amount of material” had been obtained from a phone which had been in the possession of Sue Ruddick, the chief operating officer of the SNP, which contained “many hundreds of texts”.

One of those texts had come from an SNP politician who became one of Salmond’s accusers in the criminal trial. The politician had texted Ruddick to say they were “currently convening [their] SPADs [Special Advisors] for a council of war”.

Jackson submitted further that a senior Scottish Government employee was a “prime mover” in the campaign to divert public attention away from the disaster of the judicial review. She herself became another of Salmond’s accusers in the criminal trial and she “encouraged others to make false complaints” to the police.

Jackson read out a text in which the SNP politician who spoke of convening the “council of war” had said of this senior Scottish Government employee: “Jeez, think [she] is in trouble. S isn’t going to stop until he gets her and he’s bringing down Nicola on the way.”

Jackson submitted that the text showed “real personal motivation” on the part of this “prime mover” to target Salmond because of the failure of the judicial review process, which had made her own employment “shaky”. More generally, he submitted that, fearing for the future of the Government, and for their own personal positions, those closest to Nicola Sturgeon perceived themselves to be at war with Salmond.

Jackson sought to produce these texts in the trial as part of a series which, he submitted, showed that the Scottish Government had orchestrated the criminal prosecution to discredit Salmond and that the “prime mover” was “very much at the centre of driving this”. This request was denied by the court.

Salmond himself then developed this theme in his own evidence when he said of the “prime mover” that she had “exaggerated” her own claims, “just as she encouraged at least five people to exaggerate or make up claims against me.”

In his closing speech to the jury, Jackson told them that the “prime mover” had contacted at least four of the criminal trial accusers, all of them serving or former officials, before Salmond was charged. A WhatsApp group was used for this. A fifth accuser, a senior politician, had refused to take part in those conversations because she felt it was inappropriate.

A further message was also read out during the trial from one of Salmond’s accusers to another. She wrote that she had been “mulling” the “AS stuff”, adding “I have a plan and means we can be anonymous but see strong repercussions.”

The accuser who sent that message had earlier contacted the SNP compliance officer Ian McCann on the subject of making an anonymous complaint about Salmond, having decided to do so in “the October/November 2017 period”. She got a reply from McCann which said: “We’ll sit on that and hope we never need to deploy it.”

In her evidence at the trial, this accuser said of her complaint to the SNP: “I wanted it to be known in the party so it could become a vetting issue and they could deal with it at whatever stage they saw fit.”

In other words, the accuser said that the complaint was made for the purpose of trying to prevent Salmond from getting through vetting for any future political comeback. McCann’s reply confirms that the complaint was being held by SNP officials for precisely that purpose.

More recently, former Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill made public further copies of texts which he said were sent to him anonymously, which bore to be texts from SNP chief executive officer Peter Murrell to Sue Ruddick.

After some delay Peter Murrell, who also happens to be Nicola Sturgeon’s husband, admitted that he did indeed send the texts to Sue Ruddick.

It seems that the texts were sent the day after Salmond was charged, and that they formed part of the series that Jackson had tried, and failed, to have put before the jury at Salmond’s trial.

The first message stated:

“Totally agree folk should be asking the police questions … report now with the PF on charges which leaves police twiddling their thumbs. So good time to be pressurising them. Would be good to know Met looking at events in London.”

The Metropolitan Police had indeed been passed information in January 2019 linked to the investigation in Scotland and it is clear that this is what Murrell was referring to.

The second message stated:

“TBH the more fronts he is having to firefight on the better for all complainers, so CPS action would be a good thing.”

The reference here is to the English Crown Prosecution Service which, in the event, took no action on the information which had been passed to the English police.

Perhaps it’s just my own background in literary analysis but I detect a recurring theme here: “battle”, “war”, “council of war”, “firefight” …

All of the documents referred to above, and the “hundreds of texts” of which a good number of them seem to be a part, must now be disclosed to the inquiry, along with all other relevant material held by the Crown.

The conflicted role of the Lord Advocate

How, then, will this happen?

In what seasoned watchers of the Salmond inquiry will recognise as a familiar move, the Lord Advocate “recused” himself from an active part in the criminal proceedings against Salmond.

Just what that actually means, and what possible reassurance we are supposed to draw from it, I truly don’t know.

The fact is that the constitutional position of the Lord Advocate in Scotland is utterly untenable. He is a Minister in the Scottish Government who attends and participates in Cabinet meetings and gives the Government secret and confidential legal advice and he is the head prosecutor of crimes, including, whenever necessary, the crimes of Scottish Government officials and politicians.

As such he is, so we are told, entirely independent and free of any Scottish Government influence when he acts as the head of the prosecution service .

If you can do the doublethink required to balance out that contradiction as acceptable in your head you can probably believe that the “Chinese walls” in the City of London really do keep us safe from any insider trading by the barrow-boys who work there.

The very fact that the present incumbent should think it necessary to make the utterly empty gesture of “recusing” himself in the Salmond prosecution points up how obviously conflicted his institutional roles are.

Because the problem is not, of course, personal. It is institutional.

But what we need now from the Lord Advocate (or whoever is in charge at COPFS if the boss is still “recused”) is some demonstration that he can somehow rise above this institutional conflict and, in the oft-repeated words of his boss, “do the right thing”.

143 thoughts on “THE INSTITUTIONAL BIAS OF COPFS

  1. Gordon
    Thanks for this insightful (as ever) post.

    Could there be an alternative interpretation of:
    ““We’ll sit on that and hope we never need to deploy it.””?

    The alternative meaning being an undersandable hope of never having to face up to a difficult question. Which would have meant having to investigate a difficult subject.

    If I myself had been in that position, I might in all honesty have said the same – is there a better answer he could have given? Assuming of course that the person he was communicating with was happy with the sitting on it.

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    1. And thanks to you, Robert, for the insightful comments. Yes, taken in isolation it could mean that and I can’t say more without getting into the substance of the complaint itself, which I don’t want to do as I don’t want to risk even going near the anonymity issue.

      But suppose you were on the golf club committee and I told you someone with ambitions to be the greens convenor had murdered someone. I doubt you’d reply, “Let’s keep that to ourselves and keep him off the committee with it if he tries to get on.”

      And perhaps this offers a handy and early opportunity to remind everyone — and sorry, I know you’re all totally sensible and responsible people — to likewise stay away from that issue and of course ABSOLUTELY DON’T GUESS AT ANYONE’S IDENTITY or say anything that might help others do so.

      Liked by 3 people

    2. Not so sure; as a former comms person, ‘deploy’ has a pretty specific meaning. Belies – as Gordon says – an atmosphere of battle

      “Never need to discuss it”; never need to confront it”; “never need to deal with that” – many ways to say it without that implication

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ah, nice one, 1971Thistle. After boasting of my skills in literary analysis, I totally missed the military connotations of “deploy”, but you’re right of course, it fits right in there with the others. I agree with your other point too.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. 1971 Thistle

        Exactly how I saw it – deploy – as in weaponising it if we need to.

        2021 – 50 year anniversary time for another trophy?

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I noticed the strongly worded letter to COPFS about providing evidence – in fact the convener of the harassment committee is acting for evidence in ever-shorter deadlines. Gordon – can I assume when you say ‘Salmond inquiry’ that you mean the Committee on Harassment complaints (etc), and when you say ‘Salmond investigation’ you mean the investigation into the harassment complaints by Judith Mackinnon? I’ve been reading a ton of stuff today, and terminology is often getting the better of me.

    For instance – there is a distinction made (in some of what I’m reading, mainly on the judicial review) between ‘Scottish ministers’ – we can assume that’s political appointments, but does it include the Lord Advocate and special advisors? – and the Scottish Government – so that will be all the ministers plus civil servants, but does that mean ALL civil servants, or just those on the Permanent Secretary’s Executive Team, and does that include special advisors? – then we have ‘senior employees of the Scottish government’ – that implies a salaried position, and not ministerial, but would that include special advisors or civil servants? ,,, sigh.

    Anyway – the ‘war’ references are indeed interesting. It implies that the intention was not to resolve a personal trauma, but to ‘get’ that person – an act with malicious intent. I have another suggestion for why the criminal charges were brought though…

    The judicial review was a disaster for the Scottish Government, and from what little I’ve read about how the investigation was carried out I would say at no point was the procedure followed correctly, if at all (leaving aside the nature of the procedure and how that came about): so the judicial review was conceded before the horrific detail was made public, and there was going to be a review of the procedure by Sarah Davidson after the Judicial Review (JR).

    That review halted when the criminal charges were made – and I’ve been asking myself why? Why would a harassment procedure review be stopped by a wholly seperate criminal process? That’s out of the hands of the Scottish government (supposedly – but as you mention, the Lord Advocates untenable position,,,), and life doesn’t stop for everyone else, and Sarah Davidson was not involved in any part of the events, the JR, or the procedure development: very shoogly reasoning for stopping a review of an internal procedure (by someone with very little apparent bias).

    So, reading this article – alongside an awful lot of [redacted] bits of evidence given to the harassment committee that would be very useful to know (not just who, but what happened, and when) about the development of the draft procedure – I’m going to suggest that the criminal charges were brought just for that purpose (well, and to ruin Alex Salmond, but in order to ruin him, they needed to cover up the sequence of events that brought the complaints about in the first place) – not just to cover up for the botched judicial review but to cover up the initiation of the procedure and the reasons for it. The anonymity afforded by the criminal trial – particularly anyone that may not have been an initial complainer but was heavily involved in development of the procedure [redacted] and may have been a “prime mover” so very connected to the FM and influencing things [redacted] and may not have wanted it to [redacted] become common knowledge, maybe a ‘person whose identity cannot’ (any longer) ‘be disclosed’ – is the perfect cover for any conspiracy that might have been hatched.

    Sorry, my brackets and dashes are out of control there, and I’m not really [redacting] anything, just emphasising how annoying it is.

    I don’t think we can pretend to know the minds of all the people (not sure they are human mind you) involved, but the fact that they continue to try and persecute Alex Salmond doesn’t demonstrate any reasonableness, and so anything is possible.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Contrary, “the Scottish Ministers” and “the Scottish Government” are interchangeable terms for the same thing. I agree with the folk who say we should really be calling the Committee the “Sturgeon inquiry” but it’s been the “Salmond inquiry” for so long now that it’s not going to change now, and that’s the informal name I’ll continue to use for the Committee. Lots of interesting points in the rest of your comment. The bottom line for me is that the Scottish Government were in a dreadful hole after the judicial review debacle and the only thing that could possibly have got them out of it was Salmond being charged with criminal offences. Everything else starts from there.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Do you reckon heads would have rolled straight after the JR then? (After due process and an investigation obviously) That they had to rapidly deploy any plan to deflect and stop any inquiries, in fact? Were they not just delaying the inevitable? Hmm,,,

        I was thinking about this too – in criminal cases there is an incentive for coming clean, ‘fessing up to wrongdoing, early on – because you may get a lighter sentence – dragging things through the courts is a risk (even if you aren’t guilty!) – but in civil situations, where is the incentive to own up to wrongdoing early? Say your punishment was to lose your job – surely you’d just keep lying (if you are that sort of person in the first place) until your dying breath, especially if it was a lucrative salary, because each week you are in employment you are making a mint. What extra punishment would there be for holding out on the truth? Is there any reason at all for the civil servants, and others, to ever just tell the truth?

        I wasn’t meaning a criticism of ‘Salmond inquiry’ use – I’m getting my contexts mixed up, and was sent into doubt when you used ‘Salmond investigation’. I just use ‘harassment committee’ because it distinguishes it from all the other Salmond affairs for me! (And would use ‘criminal investigation’ for police inquiries, ‘harassment investigation’ for the one Judith Mackinnon carried out: it’s how I need to categorise things in my own head, though I recognise other’s terms)(usually). I don’t think ‘Sturgeon inquiry’ makes enough sense – even though we know she’s at the heart of it, the committee specifically names Salmond, but only names the Scottish Government (and so the First Minister), not Sturgeon herself.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Contrary, I would make a couple of points.

        1. The criminal case gave the right of anonymity to a number of the players and this has subsequently affected/ partly hamstrung the Scot Parliament Inquiry ability to investigate the matter. So I agree with the point you made.

        2. On the Scot parliament inquiry website its remit is stated as investigating the First Minister, Scotgov, and special advisers (if my memory is correct). I would particularly note that special advisors have been specifically listed.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Thanks Cubby, I need to stop speculating on the whys I think – though some reasoning is needed to put events together (disjointed as they are) and to notice the gaps that need filled. I’m also going to stop judging with my own moral compass (I usually avoid this in real life, but it’s harder here when everything is so perplexing, and a bit shocking, and not what I expected to find in the granular civil service world – who knew that Yes Minister was so close to the truth?!)

        I’m actually in favour of anonymity (but then it’s then the sole responsibility of officials to ‘do the right thing’), but think all parties should have remained anonymous. I’ve still to look at the events surrounding Leslie Evans decision (which must have been approved by gov’t and so by the FM) to make the information public about Alex Salmond – in fact, the procedure as you’ve pointed out specifically states the FM should be deciding what to do.

        The problem I have is with the retrospective application of anonymity – events that took place PRIOR to a person making a complaint/becoming an accuser should not have any of those events or naming [redacted] – assuming that’s the case – because that then just makes it more obvious who that person might be. If we don’t know who any of the accusers were in the criminal trial, then no connection can be made between them and previous actions and events in the development of procedure and its application.

        By adding great big swathes of [redacted] parts to all documents tells us all we need to know – that someone who was, or planned to become, a complainer/accuser was heavily involved in all steps and was influencing everything from inside. Then, anything to do with that procedure & it’s execution must be in doubt.

        Anonymity should be afforded in relation to the actual complaint and those circumstances, it doesn’t mean they should be wiped out of history – by now I’m sure every civil servant that’s even taken a mild interest in events must know who the anonymous people are.

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      4. I suggest the most reasonable action, given the serious nature of the inquiry, would be to suspend, without pay, every single person that has in any way been involved in any of the stages or events, until the matter is resolved – that should speed up the delivery of any evidence!

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  3. I understand that Nicola Sturgeon is a solicitor. Now I don’t know about Scotland, as I’ve practiced only in England but a solicitor giving an undertaking is a very serious matter indeed. Breaching an undertaking amounts to professional misconduct. For this reason, partners in most English firms have rules in place to ensure that junior lawyers don’t, inadvertently, give undertakings (even if the word ‘undertaking’ isn’t used) which can’t be met.
    Now NS undertook personally, to the parliament that the requisite information for the inquiry, would be made available.
    It doesn’t really matter if the rules provide that the legal advice can’t be provided; she will still be bound by her undertaking. If she remains on the roll I’d suggest it would be a matter for the Commission for Complaints against Solicitors or whatever the appropriate body, that supervises solicitors’ conduct.

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    1. I’m not going there Ingwe and if you google my name you’ll see why. As someone who has never had a client complain about him in more than thirty years I hate the whole idea of third party complaints with a great passion.

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    2. Such a complaint could comprise Salmon’s coup de grace when Sturgeon finally gets an atom of integrity and resigns. That she is clinging on despite it being absolutely obvious she broke at least Section 1 parts of the ministerial code which are resigning matters does not speak well of her integrity.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Wasn’t for a moment suggesting that you should make the complaint Mr Dangerfield. I’ve acted for several solicitors facing disciplinary proceedings by the body that ‘regulates’ us and know just how awful it is. But it shouldn’t need an individual to make a complaint.

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      1. Fantastic, Ingwe, that’s hugely appreciated. I’ve been meaning to do a post plugging the book since I started the blog, so one of these days…

        I really hope you do enjoy the book and I’ve made one of the principal characters a law student so some law stuff in there for you as well as politics, first love, poetry, surfing, pop music and plenty of politically incorrect teenage vulgarity.

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      2. Cubby — and other lovers of great literature — the book is available on

        and if you have a wee read of the blurb and reviews you’ll get the flavour of it, I think. That post plugging it in more detail is definitely coming soon!

        Liked by 3 people

      3. Gordon, thirteen 5 star reviews – well done – not often you hear about a book featuring Kirky/Lenzie/Harestanes etc.

        What do you say when someone asks you what Uni did you go to? You’ve got a fair choice there😀

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      4. Gordon, good reply but you didn’t answer my question. I had decided that if you said the uni I went to I would buy two books ( an extra one for a friend ). I’ll help you out it wasn’t the uni in the USA. You now have a 50/50 shot.

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  5. Excellent article Gordon.

    It is hard to see how COFS can argue against giving up documents/messages since they have blatantly already done so by giving info to Allison but they seem to be a law unto themselves. Also even if they give up some of the info only, I assume Salmonds lawyers will handily point out that COPFS have not handed over everything.

    I have never really understood why the Lord Advocate recused himself from the criminal trial. Isn’t he supposed to be independent? So isn’t that an admission of not being independent.

    The only new info for me was the sentence ” A fifth accuser, a senior SNP politician had refused to take part in these conversations because she felt it was inappropriate.” – but everything else was ok in her mind! More likely she was a bit more savvy by then not to have written comments available for possible future use against her. It is a measure of their arrogance and a belief in how powerful they thought they were that they left a trail of messages of their plotting.

    Will doing the right thing not bring the house of cards crashing down?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Maybe the fifth accuser had no intention of pressing charges, did not want to press charges or did not agree that any offense had taken place?

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  6. Can I ask Gordon the truth behind the assertion by numerous authoritative persons that the legal advice given to the SG cannot be released to the committee by the SG as it would infringe the confidentiality which is held by the lawyers unless permission is granted

    Yet there are other authoritative persons who say that this is not true the SG can reveal the legal advice given as they are the ones who hold the confidentiality

    In other words the confidentiality between lawyer and client is that the client holds the confidentiality, and that the lawyer can ONLY reveal docs or whatever with the permission of the client , not the other way around

    If 2 and 3 is true then that indicates that the SG are continuing to blow smoke at the inquiry committee
    Hoping I have made my question sensibly legible

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    1. TH, I’m amazed there’s even any debate about this. The lawyer’s duty of confidentiality operates one way only — in favour of the client — and the client is free to disclose legal advice received at any time without any permission from the lawyer.

      I can give you a good example from my days in the trenches as a criminal defence lawyer in Stranraer. One of my clients heard the police were looking for him to give a witness statement and came to see me to ask what his obligations were. I gave him half an hour’s worth about his duties as a citizen and the justice system relying on the good faith of all of us and so on but how at the end of the day there was no legally enforceable obligation on him to give a statement.

      When I next saw the policeman who had been looking for the statement, he told me how my client had concisely summarised my advice: “Dangerfield says to tell you cunts fuck all.”

      Liked by 1 person

      1. [laughing smiley face with tears running down my face]

        Ohhh you caught me out with your wonderful story there Gordon, a heartwarming tale of the common man able to understand legal advice (surely very well explained too) and to neatly summarise it in a one concise statement. Brilliant, you’ve cheered my day no end 😀

        If this is an example of your literary skills, I might be buying your book too! (Though it’s not my normal type of read, it’s definitely time to start buying gifts…)

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      2. Hooray, C, that’s very kind of you. There’s a lot of bawdy humour in the book, plus politics, music, surfing, first love and poetry and, if I do say so myself, tons of literary technique, with second person voice borrowed from Grassic Gibbon and Romantic register in the surfing scenes stolen from my favourite book of all time, The Prelude. Hope you give it a go!

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      3. Gordon, If John Swinney comes back and says “as per the Ministerial code I have checked with our lawyers and they say they don’t want us to divulge the advice so I will not be doing so” – what he is doing is trying to hide the fact that it is really him who is saying he will not divulge the legal advice.

        The lawyers and the Ministerial code are nothing more than smokescreens for him and the Scotgov to hide behind.

        All this effort to conceal the advice just indicates to me that the Scotgov legal advice said – you will lose the case.

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      4. Hi Gordon thanks for your response and clarification , as Cubby has posted below IF Swinney as he has previously done says he will consult with the lawyers to check that material, documentation, or advice can be released he effectively is BLOCKING and REFUSING the committee this information , my question NOW becomes why are the committee NOT HIGHLIGHTING to the MSM and the general public that the SG are DELIBERATELY and WILLFULLY withholding information to the committee that is crucial in reaching a determination of the inquiry and therefore is FAILING not just the Scottish Parliament but the PEOPLE OF SCOTLAND who have a right to know

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      5. If he said that to the cops here in New South Wales he’d probably be charged with using offensive language. It’s part of what defence lawyers here call the Trifecta – the cops routinely charge every defendant with Resisting Arrest, Assaulting Police and Offensive Language, and of course the evidence for conviction is the sworn testimony of the police officers themselves. Is the Trifecta in use in Scotland or the rest of the UK?

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      6. Wow. Wales has interesting laws.

        Don’t think the police in Scotland would be allowed such unbridled powers in Scotland,,,, yet.

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      7. Mr Dangerfield, a very funny anecdote on the issue of privilege. When a wet-behind-the-ears lawyer, I went into court with my principal and the client, the defendant who was about to give evidence. He asked us, “how shall I give my evidence?”. My principal replied “just tell it as if it was the truth”.

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    2. Wings has published a very interesting take on this. The SG has made a great song and dance of how the government recused itself from the whole AS matter – It Was Nothing To Do With Nippy!

      That being the case, the legal advice was not, in fact, provided to governemnt ministers. It was provided to civil servants. And civil servatns do not fall under the code of conduct governing ministers and the legal advice they receive

      Liked by 1 person

    3. The most obvious reason not to release legal advice is because you have been advised against a course of action, but you’ve gone and done it anyway.

      It came out of the judicial review that the UK government had advised against making the new harassment procedure retrospective, but the Scottish government went ahead anyway. So it’s not impossible a similar scenario occurred with their own lawyers.

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  7. Just a quick heads-up. John Somers and Liz Lloyd were both due to provide information to the Committee aboiut their November 2017 meeting(s) with the AS complainers by yesterday (Fri 6 November).

    There’s nothing on the website yet. Worth keeping an eye out for this as it’s likely to provide a few more useful pieces in the jigsaw (if you’ll pardon the metphor).

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    1. David, The Inquiry Committee are having a meeting next week in private session and I suspect they will be discussing these replies (assuming they arrived on time) before making them public.

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    2. David, they didn’t reply. John Swinney has replied on their behalf along with an unnamed person. Two very senior people in Sturgeons office and they need Swinney’s protection – what a joke.

      Is it time to call Swinney before the Inquiry and bore everyone to sleep.

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    3. Cubby, I think the unnamed person is [Private Secretary 1] who is private secretary to Leslie Evans (she has at least two). Obviously that person is only doing things under instruction from Evans, but he/she was very much involved in the intricate detail of establishing the procedure along with Judith Mackinnon and Nicola Richards and James Hynd.

      I’m assuming the numbering of people is consistent – so we can assume [Private Secretary 1] is always the same person.

      I’ve just read through reams of emails from the 17th Nov 2017 (evidence in Phase1FN23/ XX0013, XX0014, XX0015) – all those people were drafting the ‘FM commission note’ which ended up as the letter from the FM to the Permanent Secretary sent on the 22nd (and obviously why the letter was so strangely worded – everyone and their dog had a hand in drafting it!) – including Liz Lloyd. This is the first time I’ve seen her mentioned as directly involved – she was sent the draft procedure and gave comment back on it – and was involved in the drafting of the ‘FM commission note’.

      [Private Secretary 1] sends out an initial draft of this note for N Richards, J Mackinnon, J Hynd and Liz Lloyd to comment on – etc then until they refine it. Then [Private Secretary 1] says she will “put this to Leslie over the weekend”. Remembering this is a note FROM the FM. I’m sure this is normal practice for producing ‘official’ letters that can be published – this is the official commissioning of the procedure to include ministers and FORMER ministers to the Permanent Secretary by the FM (even though they’d already done this, so it’s just weird timing).

      There seems to be a weird anomaly of versions of the procedure sent out late Nov/early Dec 2017 – I need to investigate further though. What I would expect is an official discussion or note or something around 1st Dec 2017 showing that Nicola Sturgeon specifically acknowledges and accepts, or more likely in the same vein as above commissions the Perm Sec to exclude the FM’s role in the procudure re former ministers. They might think they didn’t need to be official about it because it wasn’t ever part of the Ministerial Code,,, but that’s not reasonable (as Gordon has already written about), because all the prior versions had the FM role similar to current ministers procedure.

      Can someone let Gordon know that this comments thread here is kind of jam-packed filled up (can’t imagine why), and we could do with a new blog post to start afresh?

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  8. Sounds like you need a proper post to really plug your book Gordon, now that you have a captive audience!! Shameless 🙂

    Interesting various bits of information on evidence (I’m trying to tie things together in a who/when flow chart – yeah you’d think I had loads of free time – but only just started): there are clusters of events (to do with procedure development) around certain dates: 22nd Nov 2017, 29th Nov 2017, 5th Dec 2017.

    Now, we have concerns raised by Ms B to Barbara Allison (BA) on 8th Nov 2017, and by Ms A to Gillian Russell (GR) on 22nd Nov 2017: I am going to assume that any involvement in the procedure by either BA or GR after those dates potentially means influence on it due to concerns (to become complaints) made.

    On 22nd Nov 2017, a flurry of activity: Ms A meets with GR (a senior Director in the civil service) – this info is shared with Judith Mackinnon (JMack) and Nicola Richards (NR) – evidence YY008 (but redacted from the timeline given in XX047 – one reason I find the amount of redactions weird). From the Open Record: The Permanent Secretary receives an update and reference to complaints – evidence ref still to be found, but may be to do with emails (phase1 FN21/XX021) from John Somers to Perm Sec along with the First Minister, where the FM sends a letter to the Perm Sec where she says “you have kept me closely briefed on the issues” and specifically requests ministers and former ministers to be included (despite it already being part of the procedure,,,,) – a strangely worded letter I have to say, but that might be due to ahem granularity. All that in one day, my my they are a busy lot.

    NR’s timeline in XX0047 as I mentioned above is a strange one, sent out on 6th Dec 2017 in an email asking JMack to look at it and ‘it may need testing back against the policy’ – it reads as though that request is to do with the timeline, not the amended procedure, but that could be due to granularity again. Her list numbering below this is off – mistakes or later deletions? And she gives an exact scenario of how things were to play out assuming a complaint was made.

    Flurries of activity always seem to centre around when contact is made with Ms A and Ms B, and I think any reasonable observer would conclude that these interactions informed the substance and the purpose of the harassment procedure. They also involve some kind of communication to or from the FM. I’ve lots still to look at though! (I want more detail for 4th to 6th of Dec – that was when final draft was created).

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  9. Maybe suspending all who have been active would actually help when they do not have the decency to resign having created this mess. Evan’s position has not seemed tenable since the Judicial Review collapse and Murrell should really have resigned when Nicola became party leader. Never a good look with partners in the two top jobs.
    Having no legal expertise I see the whole procedure as both very expensive and hugely damaging.

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    1. You would have thought, wouldn’t you, after the judicial review, that Leslie Evans would have been immediately suspended in some way until an inquiry was carried out?

      But, not only was she kept on, her tenure ended – I can’t remember when now, less than a year ago? – and Nicola Sturgeon *extended* her contract. That was a remarkable move by Nicola Sturgeon, which I was bewildered by at the time. Still am to tell the truth. It’s not like Leslie Evans wouldn’t have a job, she’d just move to a different equal level one somewhere else, it’s not like they need to stop being great buddies – not many of us work alongside our friends – and surely any cover up would be just as air tight as it is now with or without Evans around (well, maybe that last one might not be true).

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      1. Contrary, I have read two delusional Sturgeon supporters give up the following two explanations for no action being taken against Evans.

        1. Nicola wants to keep her in place so that she eventually gets her just deserts (disciplined) from the Scot parliament inquiry.

        2. Nicola now knows Evans is a Britnat and if she replaced her she might get someone worse.

        The truth is that Evans was just doing what her FM instructed her to do and is therefore rewarded by a pay rise and retained for an extended period of time.

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      2. Cubby, every time I see an excuse made on behalf of Nicola Sutgeon I want to bury my face in my hands and just breathe deeply for several minutes: the effort some people are going to to make up some kind of plausible reason for Sturgeon’s behaviour *without* ever considering just asking her, is remarkable. The no-debate culture, the never-question culture, is truly embedded in society and exasperates me. The media doesn’t question anything any more, and now ordinary people refuse to question anything. Drives me mad.

        Those excuses are, of course, non-sensical: 1. Leslie Evans can be disciplined wherever or whatever she is doing, if she’s still in the civil service, or if serious enough even when outwith it. 2. Nicola Sturgeon might also get someone better – in fact, could you do worse? The reputational damage of keeping someone on for whatever reason, when they have, at best, made a huge blunder, is huge. Neither show good decision making by someone expecting to be treated like country’s leader. Can’t have it both ways.

        I’d forgotten about the pay rise – considering Leslie Evans was already, what, the second highest paid civil servant in the *uk* – and that means higher paid than most of the lords and ladies that populate Westminster’s civil servant ranks – it was quite a move. Hmm, was it her that got the pay rise? I thought it was just Liz Lloyd maybe that got the pay rise? Both? ,,, the tangled web they weave,,,

        Leslie Evans couldn’t have hatched these plots, or have a particular axe to grind over Alex Salmond, off her own bat – she may have orchestrated things and be in agreement with the plan, but it could *only* have come from either instruction from the FM, or with her agreement at the bare minimum.

        The question is, was there a long-running plan – where the whole, innocent, ‘let’s update all our procedures’ was the start of it – or was the plot opportunistic – that is, they were updating procedure anyway and saw a way to twist it round to capture a hated political rival in the net? (There were several stages at which opportunities could have been grasped, with varying degrees of plotting needed). Nicola Sturgeon – if any emotion can be attributed to her, which I doubt – must really loathe Alex Salmond. The epitome of two-faced,,, But I suppose that’s politics.

        Running parallel to all these Scottish Government conspiracies, we have internal SNP plotting. This is less clear (if that’s possible), and I think timelines need to be matched up between the two to truly show that central to the whole affair is the power-duo of Sturgeon and Murrell.

        The committee can’t look at internal SNP stuff, I assume, but both Sturgeon and Murrell have been intertwining government and party business for a while, and they’ve made the divisions less clear (by using SNP email accounts for government business, by possibly using government premises for party business, etc?). Some of this needs to be linked in to the events that were occurring I reckon.

        The idea that Nicola Sturgeon was somehow set up by the British establishment is laughable at this stage, at best (and most unlikely) she’s been a willing shill.

        One of the accusers dropped out of the criminal prosecution – I know we aren’t allowed to speculate on who that was – but I still wonder why it was? Most of the accusations were,,, well, they weren’t criminal for a start so should never have gone to trial at all – but that made for a very low bar on what they deemed okay to make into an accusation, and there was anonymity etc. Did that person suddenly get a conscience, or just cold feet when it got serious, or some other reason? The fact that this appears to be forgotten about makes me more curious of course.

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  10. Gordon
    One thing which puzzles me is the duties of those giving the SG legal advice. I listened to the chief legal officers evidence to the Committee, where he said that the advice provided was good advice consistent with the information the legal advisors had.

    Did he have any duty to question the advice – should he have asked “did you follow your procedures?”?

    Anecdotally, I’ve heard that there’s a difference between going to a solicitor and saying: “I’ve just murdered my wife: should I plead guilty?”, and going to a solicitor and saying “I’ve been accused of murdering my wife: should I plead guilty?”

    [For clarity, while obviously seeking free legal advice, I’ve not recently been accused of murder.]

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    1. Robert, I’m well behind on the latest doings of the inquiry and will have to catch up but what you’re reporting sounds like just more of the same contentless doublespeak we’ve been getting from all the civil servants. Sounds like now the lawyers are insulting our intelligence too.

      On your other question, if a client tells you he murdered his wife, you absolutely can’t say he didn’t do the deed but you wouldn’t take his word for the legal consequences of the deed. You’d investigate whether there could have been self-defence, provocation etc before advising on the plea.

      What you can’t do of course is make up a defence and frankly, it’s amazing the amount of Scottish sheriffs who seem to forget this. Many’s the time I’ve had the raised eyes from the bench when cross-examining on the basis of the hopeless account of innocence my client has given me and have wanted to say, “Look, if I was making this up myself, don’t you think I’d have come up with something better than this?”

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  11. Gordon
    I think I’m poking about with the question of whether the legal advisers should have asked: “did you follow your own procedures?”

    In the words of may analogy, should they have asked whether the SG did murder their wife?

    As an aside, it would be good to see the brief given to these advisors.

    Also as an aside, I see your book is in stock at Abbey Books in Paisley, Don’t need to go the Amazon!

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    1. I suspect it’s all part of the way the counter-intuitive way in which they seem to do everything, Robert. When you’ve persuaded yourself that you’re so much smarter than the unwashed masses who can’t see that being male or female is just a lifestyle choice, you probably start believing that taking a full statement from the client is strictly for dummies.

      Just look at all the self-important emails that go flying around their various compartments where the aim is clearly to show how busy you are and how little time you have to spend on things and not actually to sit down and get the thing done properly.

      I’m confident that any competent solicitor in private practice would have taken full statements from Mackinnon, Richards and Evans at the outset of being instructed, which process would have begun with: “Now, what was your very earliest involvement with the complainers?”

      Don’t know if you’re a regular at Abbey but it’s a real treasure trove and Brian who works there is a highly knowledgeable and interesting guy — a writer himself too.

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      1. It was stated to the Committee last week that there was a team of 10 to 12 lawers in the SG working on the defence side of the judicial enquiry. All at my expense as a taxpayer.

        Used to live in Paisley, and frequented Abbey Books when it was down by the abbey. Was a great place to take children to spend pocket money. IIRC it had at the time the compulsory set-up of the second-hand bookshop; paraffin heater and a cat curled in the window.

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  12. New letter from John Swinney to the committee has been published. He’s complaining (!) about the committee’s treatment of civil servant witnesses.
    I won’t bother posting link because it’ll just make a big blank space – y’all know where to find it!

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  13. Well well well. The big hero of the day John Swinney rides to the rescue.

    Big John says leave these poor civil servants alone – stop bullying them – it just isn’t fair to ask them questions – they are only civil servants after all – it’s us ministers who are totally responsible. So I will answer for them now says Swinney. Bit late in the day John to try and remove civil servants from the firing line as they have been attending inquiry meetings and submitting written statements for some time now. Big John thinks he is John Wayne riding with the cavalry to the rescue.

    Well the big problem for big John is that his boss wee Nicola signed off a process saying that the civil service is completely responsible for administering the process for former ministers. So when it suits wee Nicola she says it wisnae me it was the civil servants but when it suits big John he says Ministers are always responsible and civil servants are just doing what they are told to do.

    What a farce. Big John is correct for the most part but wee Nicola is a wee chancer. John and Nicola a good try at having it both ways. But the contradiction in your position is obvious to the blind.

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  14. Well well well. What an interesting letter from Mr Swinney. Thanks for alerting us to it Ian!

    Interesting on its timing, and its content.

    Timing because, of course, he has sent a letter of complaint just before the civil servants close to Nicola Sturgeon might be interrogated,,, sorry, interviewed. We will also recall that Liz Lloyd (the FMs Senior Special Advisor) is a political appointee, so yes a civil servant, but she didn’t come up through the ranks, she was given that (lucratively paid) job by the SNP. John Somers, I know nothing about (he’s the FMs Principle Private Secretary).

    Content on a couple of levels: 1. For someone that has had no involvement in any part of this, except to play the part of useful man and announce the harassment procedure in parliament (or something) ,,, as an aside: wouldn’t it be the deputy first minister’s role to keep an eye on mundane procedural changes for the first minister? ,,, Mr Swinney seems to know an awful lot about who was doing what and when. He described what they all did and when – I believe this is hearsay (because he wasn’t there and doesn’t know). The more junior person that’s not named is one of the private Secretaries to Leslie Evans – and of course deals with much of her correspondence – so likely knows all the gossip – and Mr Swinney seems to know everything he/she was doing too.

    2. Well well well. Turns out Mr Somers met MsA on the 20th and 21st of Nov 2017 – if you refer to my comment above about the flurry of activity around the 22nd Nov – that’s the date that MsA approached Gillian Russell with her concern. But now we find out that MsA makes a ‘disclosure’ to Mr Somers on the 20th and 21st. Mr Somers who is Nicola Sturgeons Principle Private secretary.

    I haven’t found anything else happening on the 20th Nov 2017.

    On the 21st on Nov, I have seen reference to a meeting between the Permanent Secretary and the FM to discuss the process dealing with former ministers (that was from the Open Record on page 15 – I haven’t seen other evidence for this).

    The 22nd of Nov was the flurry of activity where immediately on hearing MsA’s concern, Gillian Russell informs Nicola Richards (head of HR) and Judith Mackinnon. Letters being sent between FM and Perm Sec too.

    23rd of Nov sees another meeting between Gillian Russell, Nicola Richards and Judith Mackinnon (subject of meeting is redacted, but it is to do with procedure development – again, why is this fully redacted? a large amount is redacted as well. Either the redact-tool is being used to exclude compromising details, or they wrote down personal details of the complaint, or an accuser was intimately involved in the process. None of these options look good.).

    Then on the 24th of Nov the FM is sent a draft version of the procedure. It’s a bit like they’ve all got their knickers in a twist over something.

    Ms A seems very free and easy about going to high heid yins with the kind of personal complaint one would usually like to keep private. But hey, everyone is different.

    Let’s Occam’s razor it: (20th) Ms A goes to Somers saying she wants to complain about Alex Salmond, Somers goes to NS and tells her. NS says, oh goodie how can we convince her to go all the way? (Ms B can’t have been playing ball). (21st) Somers goes back to Ms A the next day and makes a deal with her, but they have to wait for the procedure to get finished, so asks her to go to Gillian Russell first (the sounding board). Meanwhile the Perm Sec and the FM have a hurried discussion on the best way to word the procedure to fit the complaint made so they can nail Salmond, but make it look accidental. (22nd) Ms A goes to Russell the next day for due process, while at the same time NS writes an official ‘hurry it up’ letter to the permanent secretary, to get the procedure done faster and pretend they’re all innocent. The two little accomplices are told of the urgency so have a flurry of meetings on the 22nd and 23rd Nov to thrash out the detail they need from the complaint (via Gillian Russell) to ensure the procedure works with it, then they advise Mr Hynd on the needed tweaks. NS gets a version to check the very next day.

    Only problem with that story is, civil servants don’t ever work that fast, do they?

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    1. Good stuf Contrary. But there is one, I suppose you would call it a ‘gap’ right at the outset:

      (20th) Ms A goes to Somers saying she wants to complain about Alex Salmond…

      Why on earth would she go to John Somers wth this? And not once but twice? As the FM’s Private Secretary, he had no responsibility whatsoever for this matter and no reason to be involved. He had no line responsibility, no responsibiity for investigating such matters, no involvement in drafting the new procedure, nothing. Why should she suddenly decide “Hmm… what to do with this? How to get it on the table? I know! I’ll go and talk to John Somers!”

      The obvious Occam’s answer is – she didn’t. The meetings must have been set up by somebody else, who was involved at an earlier stage, for some reason.

      So the two obvious questions for John Somers are now:
      1. Who set up these meetings?
      2. What was the purpose of these meetings?

      The answers to these two questions will provide another useful piece in the jigsaw.

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      1. And the other obvious question – and this is more for the wearers of the impenetrable lead blinkers with “Wee Nippy is fab!” painted on the inside – is this:

        Why did John Somers say nothing to Nicola Sturgeon?

        I cannot think of a single remotely plausible and legitimate reason why he would not have told her. And there are several compelling reasons why he had a duty to tell her.

        He had an informal duty because she was the leader of the party and he was her Private Secretary. He was in possession of information that could have done devastating damage to the party’s image if it became public. But he said nothing.

        He had a professional duty to tell her, in particular after the procedure was modified on Nov 22 to include former ministers, because she would be responsible for investigating the complaint. And even after that responsibility was removed, she still had a right to know. But he said nothing.

        I am supposed to believe that John Somers sat on this information for four months, and said nothing to his boss the First Minister about it, for no reason that makes any sense.

        Ok. Over to the believers. I’m not asking for the actual reason he said nothing, as you obviously can’t know that. Just give me any reason at all that you can think of, that isn’t utterly stupid and implausible.

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      2. Thanks David, yes I immediately wanted to change that first part (but got too tired to post anything) to:

        ….changing the first part of my story already – how about – Ms B (who first raised a concern on the 8th) was getting cold feet – NS was getting impatient so told Somers to go out trawling for other candidates – so Somers approaches MsA on he 20th,,, (etc).

        That suits Occam’s razor far better I think?

        Finding candidates for complaint would just be a case of checking out the gossip of the past and anyone that was known to dislike AS.

        I’ve buried myself so much into evidence and events, I’d forgotten that there are still people out there that still believe that somehow, through some miracle due to her aloof position probably, Nicola Sturgeon was ‘never informed’ of any complaints. I need to remember to be gentle when mentioning things outside this blog.

        The whole thing smacks of trawling for any kind of complaint against a ‘past minister’, then encouraging those people to make an official complaint – ensuring the procedure suited the exact circumstances of those people. The whole lot of them were thick as thieves. But, of course, as Mr Swinney kindly reminded us, the civil servants only ever act under direction from ministers, who then take responsibility for all those actions. So – even if it was a weird case of suddenly lots and lots of civil servant took it upon themselves, for no reason, to secretly conspire to formulate all this, the ministers are STILL responsible. Those civil servants WERE acting on instruction though – however much we can only examine the evidence of what *they* were doing, the overarching premise must be that it was never off their own bat.

        That makes Nicola Sturgeon ultimately responsible for all the events.

        The whole series of events is continuous of course. But after the above timeline we have:

        27th Nov 2017: James Hynd starts revision of the [ministerial?] Code, letters for former ministers to go with revised policy. (Not sure of what relevance the letters might have, but they get mentioned in later timelines).

        28th Nov 2017: Nicola Richards asks Gillian Russell and Barbara Allison if both Ms A and Ms B will meet with HR to discuss ‘organisational response’.

        29th Nov 2017: Emails sent to MsA re contacting Nicola Richards (Ref:YY008). Nicola Richards meets with the Permanent Secretary. Permanent Sec. meets with the FM ‘to discuss development of proposed procedure’.

        Every time there is a meeting or further contact regarding the complainers, there is a discussion between Leslie Evans and Nicola Sturgeon about the procedure. Circumstantial maybe but also reasonable to assume they knew who and what was being complained about.

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      3. In fact David, you emphasise a very good point. There had already been an all-staff sent out by Leslie Evans stating Gillian Russell was the Confidential Sounding board – an appointment of a senior civil servant for this and then the quiet dropping of the role (after it had served its purpose), had the committee rightly suspicious. That was on the 13th of Nov – so she’d done her bit trawling for complaints, but it seems the encouragement wasn’t working quick enough. (There was a definite haste involved in all this).

        As all us women know, your preference for your first point of call for mentioning sexual misdemeanours would always be a man – NOT! Maybe Ms A and Mr Somers were extremely good friends though. Somers most likely did a bit of private encouragement (under instruction, of course).

        The fact that Gillian Russell *immediately* informed interested parties of the complaint – her being a *confidential* (not so much then eh) sounding board and all – seems very significant. The procedure was not in place; there was no reason for anyone to know of the ‘concerns raised’ – this wasn’t an official complaint and wouldn’t be until a suitable period of time after the new procedure was signed off. Why report it?

        The haste aspect, it’s like everything was developed quickly to take advantage of the MeToo fad, thinking that would encourage people.

        I’m speculating here far too much! My brain is busy slotting everything into place, and I really enjoy analysing tricky patterns, but I need some more clues.

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      4. Contrary,

        re your questions about who set up the meetings and what was the purpose of the meetings. In Fabiani’s letter to Somer she does ask him what was the basis of the meeting ( a bit vague admittedly) but Swinney just blanks this question in his reply.

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      5. David, I read your post on WGD. So far it is just being ignored. Pretty much par for the course – that’s for Golfnut

        I no longer post on WGD because I cannot accept some of my posts not appearing and therefore deliberately skewing an argument in someone else’s favour. That was what happened to me. If you do not know if your post is going to be prevented from appearing then why bother.

        I wish Mr Kavanagh a full recovery from his illness and I was sorry to hear about his dog but his site has taken a wrong turn in my opinion and it is an opinion he did not want me to express on his site – that of course is his right – although he could have done it in a more straightforward and open manner and just tell me to stop posting.

        Sadly there are Independence supporters acting like Trump supporters – blind to the truth/facts/evidence – and the only truth is what the great leader says it is.

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      6. There are three or four replies now Cubby. I said I wouldn’t engage with them on Paul’s site, and out of respect for him I won’t. I’m not expecting to see any of them over here any time soon. I’m not sure that the author of “Are you the same monomaniac who infests SGP these days…?” (I don’t know. Am I? What’s SGP?) is going to fare too well in a demanding fact-based discussion outside of his circlejerk comfort zone.

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      7. David, had a look at the replies to your post. It didn’t take long. Not one of them actually addressed any of the facts you posted.

        You can take a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.

        Sorry but WGD (like Trump) has roped his followers into a falsehood. I know for a fact that Mr Kavanagh knows exactly what Sturgeon has been up to but chooses the wheest for Indy approach. In my opinion this approach is both morally wrong and politically wrong.

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      8. Sorry but WGD (like Trump) has roped his followers into a falsehood. I know for a fact that Mr Kavanagh knows exactly what Sturgeon has been up to but chooses the wheesht for Indy approach. In my opinion this approach is both morally wrong and politically wrong…

        I agree with you Cubby, but being one myself I am aware that auld yins sometimes become disoriented and wander off in the wrong direction. Ultimately I think we need to keep channels of communication open. You may be right that Paul knows exactly what Sturgeon has been up to, but many of his visitors don’t and still don’t want to know. It takes some people a bit longer than others to face the truth, especially when that involves repudiating long-cherished beliefs.

        Liked by 1 person

      9. David, you say ” I may be right” I know for a fact I am right. He told me.

        You just have to read some of the comments in reply to your post to see that you are absolutely correct in what you say about people holding on to long cherished beliefs. It is as if all the info/ facts that the inquiry has posted on its site does not exist and it is all just that nasty man Campbell and his nasty made up stories.

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      10. I noted that you had written “I know for a fact…” My choice of words wasn’t intended to cast doubt on your statement Cubby.

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    2. Update to Occam’s razor story:

      From the letters of Levy &McRae (p26 of 147), a letter from them to Leslie Evans mentions that Alex Salmond could guess at who Ms A was because there had been a ‘prior process’ – that is, she must have made a complaint that was dealt with at the time, that is, she was known (at least in HR) to be willing to complain about Alex Salmond.

      So, in fact, John Somers could have easily found a willing complainer and is more likely to have approached Ms A than the other way round. It would seem reasonable that Ms A thought the past matter was dealt with in the ‘prior process’ and wouldn’t come forward – she would need to be convinced in some manner to present the complaint again (which would be why it took 2 days for Somers to convince her)

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      1. Contrary, if your career/livelihood is in the Scotgov/SNP world and the FM and Perm Secretary both make it clear that they want Salmond taken down it would take a very brave person to refuse them. The criminal court heard how one of the alphabet women felt pressurised and did not want to attend a meeting if a certain person would be attending.- that person being a very powerful person. In addition one of the alphabet women pulled out of the criminal court case at the last minute.

        It is also worth mentioning that Sturgeon has never mentioned Somers meeting a complainer in Nov on two occasions. So the inquiry should be asking what was this disclosure and what did he do with the info. Is it realistic to think he never told his boss Sturgeon anything about this and the insertion of former ministers into the new process just happened.

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      2. So, in fact, John Somers could have easily found a willing complainer and is more likely to have approached Ms A than the other way round…

        You could well be right with that. But somebody must have put him up to it. It’s hardly likely that a PPS just woke up one day and said to himself “Hmm… What shall I do today… I know!. I’ll take a trawl round Holyrood and see if anybody wants to make complaints of sexual harassment against my boss’s predecessor!”

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      3. Ah yes, the part of the story that the FM sent him out to find someone still stands – this just makes it more likely that the FM would actually know who he should go recruit.

        Absolutely Cubby – the civil servants are there to serve the ministers, and I’m sure most would toe the line, even on merely implicit suggestions. (We all do it if we have a boss)

        I’ve realised that we don’t even need to know exactly when the FM knew what, or if she was at a particular meeting – we just need to show that the civil servants manipulated the whole thing, knew about the complainers and tailored the procedure, carried out the procedure unlawfully and with prejudice, etc etc. Because, in the end, they act only on behalf of ministers. And the FM is responsible, and more particularly here; because I haven’t seen any other ministers mentioned as being involved. The civil servants weren’t, and aren’t, rogue actors (however unpleasant some of them might be), and she knew what was happening all through the development of the procedure, at the very least through Leslie Evans, who did know everything that was happening. The burden of proof is on Nicola Sturgeon to show that swathes of her government had gone rogue (if she still insists she knew nothing).

        Where does the info come from that Ms A made a disclosure to Somers, and why is Swinney telling us now? There must be some evidence submitted for it somewhere? And, yes, why wasn’t this mentioned before – especially in Nicola Stugeon’s statement, there’s no way she wouldn’t have known, especially if it was a recorded event (and of interest to her).

        There is a lot of missing information I think – the pace of the development of the procedure was really fast, and there were numerous emails flying back and forward all the time between different people and groups – except on some days. There are gaps (I checked which were weekends!) where I haven’t seen emails for some dates. 20th Nov 2017 was one of those days – and we now know Somers meets with Ms A on that day. I haven’t found anything for Friday 1st Dec 2017 either. It would be unusual not to have something about the procedure on any one day – HR were communicating with the unions at the same time as all the usual suspects on the conspiracy side, so there was tons happening all the time.

        I have started to realise why there are so many extensive redactions – they are excluding anyone below a certain grade (though most appear to be named by position, e.g. [Private secretary 1]), then all the legal advice (by [lawyer1] etc), and of course personal information. So my assumption that redactions were being used to cover up inconvenient information is less likely. I’m still curious about a fully redacted person involved in Nicola Richards ‘timeline’ of procedure development, though.

        The whole thing stinks, as the saying goes!

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  15. I’m trying to put together a timeline showing who knew about the AS complainants, and what is the latest date they could possibly have known. Credit for the detail should go to Gordon and Contrary. This is what I have so far. If anyone know of any corrections, feel free to let me know.

    The dates I have used are latest possible based on what I know, and some of them will certainly be wrong. For example Leslie Evans is 29 November 2017, but she must have known of the Ms B complaint when she appointed Gillian Russell as “confidential sounding board” on 10 Nov 2017. Gillian Russell must have known then too. I don’t know if that is documented anywhere.

    Barbara Allison
    Scottish Government Director of Communications, Ministerial Support and Facilities
    8 November 2017
    Contacted by Ms B

    John Somers
    Principal Private Secretary to the FM
    20 Nov 2017
    Meeting with Ms A

    Gillian Russell
    Scottish Government Director of Safer Communities
    (Confidential Sounding Board – 10 Nov 2017)
    22 Nov 2017
    Contacted by Ms A

    Judith Mackinnon
    Deputy Director of People Advice
    22 Nov 2017
    Told of Ms A’s complaint by Gillian Russell

    Nicola Richards
    Scottish Government Director of People
    22 Nov 2017
    Told of Ms A’s complaint by Gillian Russell
    Told of Ms B’s complaint by Barbara Allison

    Leslie Evans
    Permanent Secretary to the Scottish Government
    29 Nov 2017
    Meeting with Nicola Richards

    Nicola Sturgeon
    First Minister
    29 Mar 2018
    Told about both complaints by Geoff Aberdein

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  16. I hope the Committee stands up to Swinney, tells him he is obstructing their inquiry and should foff (verb). I hope the Committee again invites the SPADs to attend and writes to the FM expressing the gravest concern about the actions of Swinney and inviting her to disassociate herself from his actions. I hope the Committee tells the FM that she does not need any permission to provide information about legal advice relating to the JR. If Swinney persists in obstructing the work of the Committee that itself should be an item for the Committee to investigate by asking Swinney to appear before it.

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    1. Sam, Fabiani has written to Swinney telling him to provide the legal advice and also get on and give the Inquiry the Scotgov papers previously provided to the Judicial review.

      Delay delay seems to be the Scotgov tactics.

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    2. Delay delay delay – yep, that seems to be the only thing ScotGov does effectively these days!

      Sam – I hope that happens too: Swinney making himself ‘useful’ again – after all the bullshit they spout about being ‘transparent’, I’m getting quite irritated with the SNP heid yins – he should go back to being useless, that seems to be what he’s best at.

      Interestingly, the unions tried to get SpAds added to the procedure alongside serving ministers – mentioned it several times, very specifically, but they were ignored, and SpAds never mentioned again (it may have been worked into the fairness at work policy?). You would have expected a bit of debate about it maybe, but there was no feedback on it at all for this procedure.

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  17. Apologies if this has already been discussed and I wasn’t paying attention.

    Browsing through the Committee papers today I saw something that I haven’t seen referenced before, although it was hardly buried away – its in:
    SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT WRITTEN STATEMENT ON DEVELOPMENT OF “THE PROCEDURE”: CHRONOLOGY OF EVENTS

    Click to access Timeline_for_Statement_1_-_14_August(1).pdf

    It may have been mentioned before I started following this blog in detail, but I’m surprised not to have seen any recent references as it concerns events of 22 Nov 2017, which have been extensively discussed in the last couple of articles.

    The entry for 22 November reads:
    In a letter to the Permanent Secretary, the First Minister noted that the Permanent Secretary had kept her briefed on the review of SG policies; and observed that in many instances the complaints being made about misconduct and sexual harassment in public life were concerned with events that had taken place sometime before. On that basis, the First Minister indicated that the review being taken forward should ensure that arrangements were in place to address concerns about the conduct of both current and former Ministers…

    So not only had Sturgeon been given information about complaints that had been lodged, but that information was the basis for the change in the process. I wonder which complaints she had been given information about, and why Ms A and Ms B weren’t among them? Maybe the Committee will ask her.

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    1. David, yes this is a good overview of events – missing quite a few things and glossing over much, but it’s a good basis from which to start. The excuse given for that particular phrase is the People’s survey – the complaints or concerns referred to were general they claim. (‘They’ being Leslie Evan of course).

      It’s always quite revealing when you read the actual evidence for yourself, when read in context. I’m trying to give refs for everything so people can check it out, but there are reams of disordered info – you get a million copies of seemingly the same email thread, but each copy will have one thing or person added to it. My timeline turned into a flow chart which is now an incident board – and packed full so needs to be redrawn, again. But hopefully by the end of it, it will be more orderly. I think it’s useful to post snippets so people might have insights to contribute to my timeline as it progresses – I know it doesn’t help with clarity though!

      Like

    2. David, beware of taking mainstream media reporting here at face value. If you have another look at my very first post on the blog, you’ll see that the policy was being very specifically tailored for former Ministers from the very start of the process in early November and indeed Hynd’s first few drafts covered former Ministers only. The exchange of formal letters between Sturgeon and Evans that you refer to here was always in contemplation from the outset, and would have happened wholly independently of the meetings between Somers and Ms A.

      Accordingly, the SG will be able to bat away this line of attack very easily.

      Sometimes I think our Unionist media launches straw man “attacks” like this deliberately as a favour to the current SG, knowing that Sturgeon and Co represent the Union’s best chance of survival, but then I remember how lazy and incompetent they are too…

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      1. David, beware of taking mainstream media reporting here at face value…

        We seem to be a cross-purposes here Gordon. I barely glance at the MSM nowadays. The information I’m talking about came direct from the Committee papers.

        What is frustrating me now is that I’ve started trying to look at the enquiry information myself, but it seems that you and Cubby and Contrary all have access to stuff I haven’t found. I’m looking at:
        https://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/CurrentCommittees/115516.aspx

        under 4 headings: Written Evidence; Phase 1 – Development of the Policy; Phase 3 – Judicial Review; Phase 4 – Scottish Ministerial Code

        Bu you are all talking about recent letters that I haven’t found on these pages.

        I hope you’ll post a new article soon. The discussions on this article are getting a bit ragged and hard to follow, and it would be good to have all the threads drawn together again.

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      2. Sorry, David, there’s been some straw man style reporting in the MSM on the Sturgeon letter of 22 November but I should have known of course that you wouldn’t be taking your cue from that.

        A couple of other places to click in addition to the four you mention are “Official Meetings and Reports” and “Correspondence”, which are in the purple box to the left of the Committee’s main webpage (you’ll see from this description that I’m a technophobe which is also why I don’t link to stuff as often as I should in the posts.)

        Very busy with both family stuff and work but hoping to post something this week.

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      3. David, even Gordon couldn’t find a letter previously.

        The way they have structured the Committee site is a bit like this whole Scotgov handling of the matter – all over the place. Stuff is there it is just not always where you might expect it to be. I remember reading a letter then going back to have another look at it days later to then have a bit of a job finding it again.

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  18. Somewhat off topic although tangential, in reference to Judith MacKinnon’s previous role at Police Scotland:
    https://caltonjock.com/2019/01/16/a-wee-peek-at-the-employment-history-of-judith-mackinnon-head-of-people-advice-for-the-scottish-government-enlightening-indeed/
    ” Judith MacKinnon, Head of People Advice for The Scottish Government, who spoke for the government at the tribunal, supported decisions taken by junior staff (who failed to attend the hearing to give evidence claiming they had been scared off because of the intense media interest) who had found insufficient evidence to back up DeeAnn’s suspicions about the unsolicited cards.”

    Gordon, I would have thought that it wasn’t an option for an employee to refuse to appear before an internal inquiry relating to their own actions (or failure to act in this case) as it’s a basic requirement of your employment and refusal would be grounds for dismissal. The way in which the tribunal tamely accepted this insubordination by the junior employees suggests their principal concern was damage limitation, not justice for the complainant. What’s your professional opinion?

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    1. Stuart, that was a very odd case and the way it was reported made it harder still to understand what the facts actually were. I just don’t think there’s enough reliable information to form any kind of opinion.

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  19. Fabiani, has sent a letter to Swinney today asking about documentation that is still to be provided but at the end of the letter is the big question to Swinney asking why is the Committee only now hearing from the Scotgov about Somers meetings with a complainer.

    Why has this never been mentioned before by the Scotgov – it took Salmonds lawyers providing their documentation to the committee that was used in the judicial review to first flag it up to the Inquiry Committee. Of course the Scotgov tried to hide these meetings from the judicial review but failed.

    A pattern of lying and deliberately holding back documents and information has been established by the Scotgov all the way through the different stages of this process.

    Unfortunately, Fabiani never asked the questions put by Davidwferguson above – namely 1. who set up these meetings and 2. What was the purpose of these meetings. I would add 3. Why is there no documentation on these meetings e.g. Agenda, minutes etc. Perhaps Fabiani is keeping these questions for Inquiry sessions with Somers or Swinney attending

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  20. Gordon, I remember Hynd say at a Committee session he was the person who thought former ministers should be included and it was his idea and no one suggested it to him – the truth? – who knows. However, he pressed on with it even though he was advised by Whitehall that it was not a good idea.

    Whether or not Sturgeon knew about former ministers being included on 22ndNov and just wanted to make sure it wasn’t removed – who knows.

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  21. Fabiani, asked Swinney in writing to provide the legal advice by today. It is being reported that this hasn’t happened.

    The Scotgov went out its way to try and hide info from the Court of Session Judicial Review so they are not going to be frightened to do the same to a Scottish Parliament Inquiry.

    Only people with things to hide lie, have memory problems, obfuscate and hide documents/information. That is our Scottish government. Time they were all shown the door.

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    1. It’s remarkable that the SNP still claim *transparency*, and people still believe them, isn’t it? I wonder if this refusal will mean the committee steps up the seriousness of the investigation? I’m not sure how that would work, and don’t want it to get dragged out any longer, but what other recourse is there? Can the judicial review that Alex Salmond started be completed, but brought by the committee or parliament? That would be £600 grand well spent, perhaps.

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      1. Contrary, Swinney was on Politics Scotland today saying the Scotgov couldn’t have been more transparent and helpful to the inquiry. I think Swinneys reputation is going downhill. He has sent a letter to Fabiani saying he is still deliberating over the legal advice ( even though she insisted the legal advice was to be provided by Friday 13th Nov.) but is yet to reply about the Somers meetings with a complainer.

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      2. The SNP hierarchy appear to think no one will notice any of their severe avoidance of being transparent! It’s the most odd thing ever. Everyone now knows it’s only him /ScotGov that’s stopping the legal advice being published.

        I’m sure you’ve noticed the article in the National about the opposition parties threatening a vote of no confidence for John Swinney and the Lord Advocate – it makes me even more annoyed that it’s the unionists that are the ones doing it. The SNP MSPs are just,,, letting all this happen. It’s not easy for them I know, but really.

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  22. I’ve read through the transcripts of James Hynd and Nicola Richards from their interviews way back in relation to the development of the procedure – it’s good to go back over these things in light of what we’ve learned since, I find. Nothing ground-breaking, but some interesting things that I didn’t notice at the time.

    James Hynd (JH) is a very senior civil servant, and his involvement in procedure development is to do with how it pertains to the ministerial code, not HR stuff. What I hadn’t paid attention to before was that his first draft, on the 7th of Nov 2017, was purely and separately to do with former ministers (of the same party as the current administration). Current ministers was contained within the Fairness at Work policy already.

    The 31st Oct 2017 was the official commissioning, from cabinet and the FM, to review all policies – but there must have been a lot of meetings and discussions before that to make the decision. Now, JH tells us he came up with the idea for having a harassment procedure to deal with former ministers all by himself…

    JH claims he had no prior knowledge of any complaints against former ministers, that he was not asked to ‘include’ former ministers – specifically – and no one mentioned it prior to his undertaking. So he ‘identified a gap’, out of the blue, all on his lonesome. Former ministers were never a part of the ministerial code, and has never been included in a harassment procedure anywhere else, ever. Drafting from first principles was tricky, it was unusual so needed different types of input than the normal development of procedure, and needed more legal input.

    Why would JH just invent this brand new thing wholly off his own bat – something he knew would take an inordinate amount of work and effort, when there was whole swathes of work to be done on reviewing ALL the policies in the civil service? He wrote, initially, an entirely seperate procedure ‘as a proposal’ for others to comment on, he claimed.

    Would you even start such an enormous undertaking without consulting on the feasibility of it beforehand? I don’t think so, not from someone as senior as JH. It’s just not credible he would start this work without some kind of instruction.

    By the 17th of Nov 2017, the procedure had developed to include current ministers and former ministers *of other parties* – this is the date that the FMs Chief of Staff Liz Lloyd (a SpAd) reviewed and commented on the procedure. JH tells us that in a meeting on the 24th of Nov 2017, this Chief of Staff suggested removing the FM role on deciding how to investigate complaints against current ministers (so it would then be the Perm Sec). John Somers (PPS to FM) was in a meeting on the 24th too. The FM was sent a version of the draft procedure on that date too.

    It is the absence of specific references to former ministers being part of a new harassment procedure that’s the most bizarre thing of all – invented out of the blue, a very special case, JH having such an amazing brain wave, the amount of work needed for it – you’d expect lots of special mentions and special meetings between the FM and cabinet and all the top civil servants – but it’s just treated, seemingly, as a fait accompli, added into current minister procedure (or vice versa) without a peep. You’d think, JH would have been congratulated at least once on his billiance, but no, not a peep. If JH had extracted, from the fairness at work policy, the current minister part into a separate procedure *first*, and then thought to add former ministers, it maybe would have been credible – but an entirely separate stand-alone procedure was invented for former ministers first, it was a special, then padded out later with the current ministers procedure. Not credible (unless he was instructed to do so).

    But maybe the lawyers did indeed give dire warning, like the so-easily dismissed advice of the English civil service.

    Nicola Richards, the slippery one, claims there was no engagement with SpAds at all ,,, well, that’s not true – she may have not communicated directly with them (her) at the time, but she knew retrospectively there was. She was very precise in saying there were no *complaints* before January – making the distinction with *concerns* here, because she knew about the concerns and actively encouraged at least one (MsA) in her email of 14th Dec 2017 to make a complaint but to wait a few weeks. We were also told of an unpublished email (YY0046) on the 12th Dec, where Nicola Richards writes to Ms A (cc J Mackinnon) saying “we have now spoken to two other people considering their position” – that is, there wasn’t just two potential complainers – a third person had raised concerns to do with the same procedure (which was as yet unpublished or even officially shared with them, which apparently took place on the 14th December).

    Why this email was not published due to ‘potential jigsaw identification’, I won’t speculate, but it does show the committee has a lot more info than us, and that, despite the procedure being nowhere near completion – that is, there was nothing before this in procedures or policy as regards former ministers, so no one should have known it was a potential thing to complain about – and, its historic, what was the rush? It didn’t affect them at work at that time, so it could easily have waited until February the next year – the publish date – because there was no immediacy – and why did the complainers think to come forward in the first place? It isn’t a ‘known’ workplace complaints thing – no one would have considered it, *unless they knew beforehand* it would be.

    Back to the 7th of Nov 2017 when JH was putting together his first draft, there is an interesting set of notes from Private Secretary 1 (Permanent Secretary’s) – she or he was intimitely involved in the development of the procedure and should have been interviewed as well to my mind – the reference is Phase1/FN10/ZZ005 (p10 of 159) – gives an idea of the complexity of developing this procedure for former ministers, and who needed to be involved (top echelons of HR, lawyers, top of civil service, the FM). Then a redacted bit under the heading ‘Allegations against former ministers’. Hmm. Wonder what Private Secretary 1 was considering there? I’ll leave you to read that if you want: I’ve written far too much as it is!

    I wanted to work through some thoughts though – behaviours are not consistent with any of their reported reasoning – *encouraging* complaints, which they still seem to think okay, just isn’t okay – how did people know to come forward with historic complaints? (Ms B came forward on the 8th Nov, barely a day after an initial draft was being considered and I assume not for public consumption, you wouldn’t announce it before the layers had reviewed for sure).

    You may think this isn’t particularly interesting, from a ‘how does this show NS was involved in the fit-up of Alex Salmond’ – but she commissioned the review of policy and agreed to all these incredible changes – she is responsible for the tailoring of this procedure to fit only one circumstance. Who knows if we will ever get direct, absolute, written evidence it was her request to make this happen. Circumstantial evidence points to it though, and now that she’s publicly expressed her distaste for Alex Salmond, well.

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    1. Contrary, I remember Hynd being asked by the Committee was he sure he just thought up the omission of Former Ministers all by himself. Was it perhaps suggested to him he was asked – no he said. Obviously some of the Committee were suspicious of this statement.

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    2. Contrary, if you look at the overall picture – you can think why are so many high level people e.g. Lloyd Sturgeons Chief of Staff getting involved in a procedure for former Ministers. The answer is they knew it would be used against Salmond in the very near future.

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      1. I think that it’s the case that they knew it was *planned* that it was to be used against Salmond. The whole purpose of it was for that one purpose. Whatever Hynd says now – he must have been commissioned to produce something for former ministers, it wasn’t included in existing procedures, it was entirely separate and brand new, it wasn’t ‘let’s stick this in too’, he produced something brand new, then added other stuff from different procedures afterwards. A standalone one-off procedure, with a purpose.

        An email from Hynd, written around 14th of Nov 2017 I think, says in reply that the ‘FM will want to know straight away’ – that is, he seemed to be arguing against what others (the usual list of recipients, main one being Nicola Richards I think) eventually managed to change the procedure to – that the FMs role in dealing with the complaints would be removed. It’s quite feasible that Hynd was oblivious to the plans, and just followed orders – certainly the normal chain of revision-making was broken around the 4th of Dec. It’s difficult to tell what each email actually refers to though, so I can’t be sure about any of it. If I was on the committee I would be asking exactly what he meant by that sentence and what it was in reply to,,, well, he’d have just lied so I suppose there wouldn’t be a point in asking sigh. You’d think he’d be embarrassed by the procedure being deemed unlawful at least.

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  23. There’s so much coming out that it really needs s book written. The Scottish legal system has had a spotlight shone on it, showing some good and some bad. It’s shown that no-one – even a former First Minister – is above the law. It’s explored (thanks to Stuart Cambell’s dogged digging) that the Lord Advocate is simultaneosly answerable to no-one and answerable to Parliament. {I’ve eventually got my head round this, and it does seem the least-worst option).

    Not all of the mud being thrown will stick. Having a procedure to cover something which might happen has to be good – not having a procedure means you don’t know what to do and have to invent one in a rush. It’s the content of and motivation for the procedure which needs scrutiny and revision. There certainly should be a procedure for what to do if there is a complaint.

    The aim of the investigation needs to be to get to the wrongdoing – was there a conspiracy to cause harm, and if so, by whom?

    As to the legal advice, it’s the brief which we need to see. The advice was sought by relatively intelligent people, who would be careful not to ask questions where they didn’t want the answer. So the breif probably was: “how do we respond to this so as to minimise damage”, not, “help, tell us where we’ve gone wrong”.

    So who’s writing the book? Gordon?

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  24. Good points Robert, but I would say that to include in a workplace harassment policy a section on ex-employees is odd – not even ex-employees, it’s ex-employees of third parties. An interesting question, did they rush through procedures for ex-civil servant complaints, or indeed ex-employees of contractors (third parties) too? If there isn’t that balance, then the procedure was unfair right from the start. This gap in procedure is something that the police deal with – good if your workplace offers support, but to do the investigating and decision making on what to do with the results (publicise it!?) is really very odd.

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    1. I don’t want to argue too hard in support of this procedure, and I don’t think it’s a fair procedure. I can, however, see a reason for being more concerned about about ex-ministers than general ex-employees. Ex-ministers are quite likely to come back again as ministers, ex-employees less so. There is a need to exclude those harassing from doing it again.

      What the procedure is also silent on is the privacy issue – it doesn’t say whether the report should or should not be public. It would be a bit bizarre for it to be public – but I get the impression that it was intended to be public in this case.

      On another subject, I watched this morning’s proceedings of the parliamentarry inquiry. It’s obvious that no-one – neither the civil servants nor the lawyers – had a review to ask: “did we follow outr own procedures”? They’re also claiming that they did not know of the “prior contact” issue until it was dug out. They also tried to stop the digging happening.That issue needs more exploration.

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      1. I watched the TV proceedings as well and the impression I was left with was how incompetent these people holding high legal office are. The alternative, that they may not be telling the truth, either in whole or in part, is pretty unpalatable. When asked straight forward questions, the degree of stammering, obfuscation, answering questions not asked and generally rambling on trying to loose the listeners in abstractions, was staggering.
        Can’t wait for the next instalment.

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    2. Contrary, the only end result of the Scotgov procedure would be to publicise the report and therefore end Salmonds political career. The judicial review prevented the publication of the report but the Scotgov got round that by leaking the details of the complainers accusations to the Daily Record.

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      1. Cubby, that certainly seemed to be the aim, publicity – what other purpose could it have had?

        Lets pretend for a moment that it was a genuine attempt at providing support for people that had suffered harassment, say they really did believe the harasser should not be allowed to work there again, because the behaviour had been so bad, then for a minister it would have to be a scandal and publicised, maybe, because the civil service can’t affect the employment of a minister (though, you have to wonder at the legitimacy of the civil service being allowed to do such a thing). Of course, in this case they didn’t even follow their own procedure, and never gave Alex Salmond the opportunity to answer or go through mediation, or present his side or give evidence, as he was willing, and was meant to be allowed, to do. Which means, the whole thing was probably invented for the sole purpose of creating a scandal out of thin air and publicising it.

        What is it that actually *proves* the intention though? Everything points to a conspiracy and the intention to persecute Alex Salmond – but how do you go about making the case that says this is certain? Craig Murray says he has seen the evidence that proves its a conspiracy – COPFS are sitting on it though: I am insanely curious about what it is and what it says now, there seems to be so much information being withheld.

        I see the Harassment Committee is meeting in private tomorrow (Friday) to consider the evidence given on Tuesday – I haven’t watched it yet, but if it was as bad as people say, well, maybe they need to take firmer action. I wish they’d get on with it!

        When is Nicola Sturgeon due to appear in front of the committee in her fair and transparent manner? That will be ,,, probably the most viewed committee meeting in history.

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  25. Contrary,

    Wolffe, was abysmal – I’ve had more fun getting a tooth extracted. Truly, how could he be a QC – a dreadful speaker.

    Evans was more polished.

    Both however, repeatedly , said they could/would not answer questions. Things got a bit tetchy at times.

    Sturgeon is due next month to appear.

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    1. Cubby,

      Yes Wolffe is a dreadful speaker – and since you’d think that would be a prerequisite for the job of advocacy, it’s testament to ‘its not what you know, it’s who you know’ promotion prospects in this line of work.

      Way back,,, em, when was that, 2016? My memory is dire, and I’ve got Supreme Court cases mixed up in my mind – there have been so many on constitutional matters these past few years – but it was the one where the judges were debating the word *normally* for days so to do with the Sewell convention that Westminster would not normally legislate on devolved matters – was that the first withdrawal bill the Scottish government was arguing against?

      At that time I was, of course, rooting for Lord Wolffe and the arguments seemed to be well made – the Advocate General (another waste of space) was pretty dire there too. Now that I think back on this case, there was a break, a delay, during which time the uk government managed to swiftly change the legislation so that it didn’t matter what the Sewell convention said and the judges could happily rule that it was a political matter and not for them to comment.

      Knowing what we know now – that Lord Wolffe appears to be as crooked as they come and certainly not in favour of Scotland, it’s independence or even its devolution – I think we can safely say that the Scottish Government delayed that case on purpose so that they would lose and have no say in any of the Westminster legislation as regards brexit – it’s one of the major steps that reduced the effectiveness of Holyrood to near nothing. And it effectively allowed the Scottish Government to step back and say ‘it wisnae us, canny dae anything about it, poor us’. Hindsight is a wonderful thing,,, and of course, Wolffe is appointed by Nicola Sturgeon. Crooked neoliberals, the lot of them. I’m kind of furious I was so entirely taken in by the nicey-nicey rhetoric.

      The Committee needs more evidence in their coffers to get Wolffe or Evans to admit to anything more – watching Evans’ first meeting again was enlightening: the amount she is happy to cover up and avoid and, well, just bare faced lie about (saying ‘no, nothing else to report, we didn’t do anything’ is bare faced lying!) is remarkable – so we can assume she is doing it at every single evidence session. It needs a crowbar.

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  26. New letters from Swinney to Fabiani and from Fabiani to Swinney in reply now released – both dated 19/11.

    Nothing in Swinneys letter about the Somers meeting with a complainer and nothing about the legal advice. Both still outstanding with Swinney.

    Instead Swinney’s letter says he has pulled the two members of the Scotgov due to appear this Tuesday 24/11 at the scheduled committee meeting since he has not yet provided the documentation outstanding to the Committee. More delay by Swinney.

    Fabiani by reply is not a happy camper and criticises him for the continual delays.

    The Committee are having a meeting on Tuesday in private.

    You could be forgiven for thinking that the Scotgov is delaying so much that they are trying to keep it going until they can all retire.

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  27. I guess everyone’s aware of Stuart Campbell’s 11 November post tying down the time of the leak to the Daily Record as between 17:00 on 23/08/2018 and 20:00 on 23/08/2020? That post also speculates on who might have had both the opportunity and the motive.

    Anyone here understand whether the leak was a criminal act or not??

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  28. Well well well

    Alex Salmond’s lawyers are talking about defamation against the Scottish government:

    https://archive.vn/cWcB9

    That’s a Herald article. I think more significant is that apparently the government have released papers to Alex Salmond now that should have been released for both court cases and weren’t – not sure of the penalty for withholding evidence but it must be fairly harsh,,, oh maybe not, it’s COPFS, and I’m sure they just ‘forgot’ or were very busy and must have missed them,,,

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  29. Just to keep the information rolling while Gordon is busy – I hope everything is well with you Gordon, and don’t mind me (us) still using your blog as a good central location for chat about the harassment committee? – this is an excellent podcast, Tommy Sheridan interviews the SNP MP Kenny McKaskill

    https://sputniknews.com/podcasts-tommy-talks/202011261081275543-who-wants-to-destroy-alex-salmond/

    Kenny repeatedly and emphatically, tells us that he knows many of the senior civil servants involved personally, and that they are far from incompetent; he is shocked by how incompetent they are coming across. It is his opinion, of course, that it’s a conspiracy, and here he makes a good case for why he believes that. He is also of the mind that it won’t damage the cause of independence to get to the bottom of this – it shows we are capable of dealing with it etc (which is my view – get it out in the open and sort it, show everyone we won’t be the same as London). He says lots of things, it’s well worth a listen.

    If the civil servants are not normally incompetent, then they weren’t being so during all the development of procedure, investigation of Alex Salmond, the judicial review, or in giving evidence to the committee – they are covering up, they were and are acting for government.

    The committee is taking witnesses for the phase of the enquiry to do with investigation and new witnesses will be Gillian Russell and John Somers (still no written evidence given from him) on the 1st Dec. Rumours are that Peter Murrell will appear on the next week. The committee has written to Angus Robertson asking for written evidence.

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    1. Woah!

      This is a Times article (archived, so no paywall) about Joanna Cherry,,, openly criticising Nicola Sturgeon

      https://archive.is/n6Ns5

      This is a very significant turn I think – politically – openly saying Alex Salmond should be reinstated to the party, and that the no-debate culture is due to Nicola Sturgeon. OPEN criticism, not hints; direct and unequivocal statements that the party under Nicola Sturgeons leadership is undemocratic.

      Will the house of cards begin to crumble? Is the fight on, from all fronts (and there are many angles to come at it from, Nicola Sturgeon has made herself so vulnerable).

      Interesting that Nicola Sturgeon’s spokesman says it’s all 100% untrue – that seems to be their technique in every single thing, outright denial that anything could be wrong or arguable – hah, if only they used that steadfast unbending approach to westminster’s intransigence!

      Like

    2. Why Joanna Cherry ignores the s.30 case currently in progress,,, is a bit of a mystery mind you. Can’t say I wholly trust her either, of course 😉

      Like

  30. Contrary, I would like to see Sue Ruddick provide written evidence then called to the Committee to answer questions.

    I know what questions I would ask Robertson if I was on the Committee.

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    1. Oh yes, Sue Ruddick, she of obscurity but at the same time with a top post in the SNP. That would be a good source of information on who knew what – of government business – in the SNP. I’ve noticed that people are saying that there are literally hundreds of messages from the group that she was part of, that prove a conspiracy. That is – people that know aren’t just hinting that there is more in a vague way – but being a little bit more specific about where and what to look for, if, say, the committee thought about being more specific in what evidence they asked for from the courts…

      I’m fairly sure your questions to Robertson would be sailing a bit close to the wind for the comfort of the committee 😉

      I was watching a bit of an old FMQs last night too, the one where Ruth Davidson asks pointed questions about the government cover up. Davidson was reading everything out, and not deviating into her shouty bluster, unusual in itself, and I noted some angry looks between her and NS – very unusual. NS ,,, she seems so confident that no one can get anything on her – to declare in parliament all the things she did “I have nothing to hide”, “I welcome the scrutiny”, and all the rest – she is declaring her innocence to parliament, and if she’s found to not be, then she’ll be lying to parliament (again).

      She thinks she won’t be caught. The most stark thing was the number of times she said ‘serious complaints’ and ‘complainers came forward’ – lots!! – did the complainers come forward? And how did they know to come forward when then there was no procedure in place to deal with their type of complaint? And were they serious enough to publicise them and try to ruin someone’s life? NS obviously thinks no link can be made between her and the complaints, having recused herself from,,,well, just about everything. And she seems to be oblivious to how she and the government looks to the public. Suspicious. To me, it just sounded like brazen insidious lies.

      It seems like there are stronger calls for a judge led enquiry than I thought – Alex Neill MSP was interviewed by Tommy Sheridan too and he’s pushing for one, to be run concurrently with the committee enquiry, but with a different remit, and with ‘teeth’. It might speed things up, but those things usually take years, so even though I agree it should be done, I really want things to change well before then.

      I’ll need to start looking at all the evidence for the investigation phase of the enquiry! It’s just confusing if I can’t put things in context of when other things were happening – but it is torture going through the government’s submissions.

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      1. Contrary, I see Sturgeon has been dangling the carrot of a referendum again to try and bolster up the wheest for Indy crowd. Of course, she says the same old stuff – there SHOULD be a referendum in the early part of her next term in government – She says no to a sec 30 by the UK is unsustainable. Same old same old.

        Excuses for not having a referendum will be easily found and the mugs will suck it up.

        PS you are correct about my questions to Robertson.

        Like

      2. Aye, there *should* be a referendum – very careful language (which begs the question about her language around the Alex Salmond affair, how very adamant she is that she has ‘done nothing wrong’) – smoke and mirrors. Martin Keatings has just posted this Twitter thread – easier to read in this reader app format

        https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1332443214331121666.html

        Responding to Pete Wisharts nonsense about why he thinks the s.30 case puts them in a ‘cage’. That whole thing is weird as well, and the SNP leadership stance on it all points to deception – as Keatings outlines in his Twitter thread, it’s well worth a read. Keatings has done well – and he’s got himself well read up on all the legal stuff this past year or so – and he’s willing to keep pushing, let’s hope it’s enough: to put enough doubt in people’s minds.

        He mentions the court case (the continuity bill, or the Gina Millar case I think?) where the uk gov’t quickly changed legislation half way through so that it was meaningless to pursue it – and I think that’s the one where the Lord Advocate, our pal the unelected minister in place due to Nicola Sturgeon’s preference, he of endless unlawful shenanigans, actually appeared in the main chamber in the Scottish Parliament to answer questions about the legal advice the gov’t got – private legal privilege indeed!! His involvement in that case,,, now that I am suspicious of all he does, I could probably go back and find that it was due to him delays, that gave to uk opportunity to change legislation, happened.

        After that case, any time you hear the word ‘consent’ used by our lovely SNP leadership, remember that, in law, consent means anything the uk gov’t wants it to mean: Up to and including ‘no consent’ meaning ‘consent’. Isn’t legislation a wonderful thing? So every time they promise us they won’t consent to whatever brexit bill is happening, well,,, it means nothing except the whim of Westminster rules. The SNP are *making* Holyrood toothless.

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    2. Geoff Aberdein – that’s who I’d like to see and hear evidence from, and the committee have published nothing from him yet.

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      1. Contrary, yes good shout. Aberdein – why no interest from the Committee? – I suspect he has been discussed in private by the Committee.

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      2. I had been scouring the written evidence page, here

        https://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/CurrentCommittees/115516.aspx

        To see if I’d missed anything of note (though it doesn’t show all the evidence, you still have to go to different links,,, it’s really not easy navigating around it!) – and noticed his name and that the letter had been sent requesting evidence, but no reply has been published. We don’t know if he has replied and they are holding back publishing (I think Nicola Sturgeon’s written evidence was held for 5 months, so quite possible), or not.

        … Guess we’ll have to wait! I think there will be great interest by the committee, surely, he’s a key witness to NS lying about the mystery meeting that never appeared in her diary etc.

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      3. Contrary, it is quite possible that he has replied as you suggest and for whatever reason(s) they have decided to not publish it. Perhaps keeping an ace up their sleeve for Sturgeons visit in the hot chair. That could also explain why he has not been called to be questionned by the Committee.

        With regard to the specific meeting with Aberdein Sturgeon has now admitted it took place but said it was only a fleeting and opportunistic meeting. If Aberdein has said otherwise in his written submission and has proof then they may be holding on to that for Sturgeons time in the hot seat and keep her in the dark as to what exactly Aberdein said.

        I thought we were getting a decent honest Scottish Government in Holyrood but it seems more like a Westminster government with a bit of tartan covering.

        Like

      4. Oh exactly to your last there Cubby, I feel exactly the same – real hopes, true high hopes, that things would be better, and get even better, but it turns out we have a mini-Westminster in the making (or already made?). I don’t take that kind of deception well, even when I don’t expect politicians to be particularly honest.

        Funnily enough, ‘tartan Tories indeed’ keeps springing into my mind these days – more to do with the slowly emerging evidence that the Scottish government aren’t just ignorantly following the neoliberalism of the establishment, but are strongly in favour of it, they are – all the ministers – while preaching social fairness and equality – are indeed, all neoliberals in dogma, the epitome of unfairness and wealth inequality. It makes me want to cry that not only are we very far away from what was promised, but the people promising these things are at the extreme opposite in ideology of what’s being promised. ‘Left of centre’ might be what the SNP preach, and what the media tell us, but it’s very far from the truth. I’ve given up any hope that Nicola Sturgeon could ever be forced into adopting party policy.

        Back to the subject at hand – I think you are right about timing and sequence of when evidence is published, and I suppose all enquiries and court cases do this, they don’t just dump all the evidence on you at once, it’s presented in stages. And we know what Aberdein most pertinently has to say, as he gave evidence in court under oath that the meeting was arranged, and it took place in gov’t premises. Hardly an opportunistic drop-in! I find that every time Nicola Sturgeon remembers something or makes a defence, facts get confused and mixed up again – that, in itself, to my mind, says she is being very far from honest or transparent!

        But it will be very interesting to hear Aberdein’s evidence in light of what has been said since the criminal trail (whose focus wasn’t that meeting), and the detail of what actually happened – it’ll be a crunch point, maybe, of contradicting statements.

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  31. Mr Dangerfield, I sent you a short positive feedback of your novel ‘A Thousand Hearts’. I intended it to appear as a reply to this thread but, in error, sent it to your contact details. It was intended to be shared with other posters so please feel free to move it.
    A great read.

    Like

  32. Gordon, I have just finished reading your novel ‘A Thousand Hearts’ this morning. It is a terrific read. I found it both moving and funny and overall, life enhancing. In these dark, bleak, times, a reading experience that uplifts, rather than depresses, is welcome.

    Not being Scottish (I’m South African living in England) I didn’t get some of the Glaswegian vernacular (smeegs, brief, sleekit etc) but this didn’t detract at all and the meaning was clear.

    I think, from the musical references and political events in the narrative, that we (I mean me and Andy Duncan) must be about the same age but the universality of the experiences of growing up and falling in love, I think make this a timeless novel.

    Having surfed a little in South Africa, I thought the description of the surfing was masterful and the way it conveyed the experience is brilliant. I am so pleased to have read this novel and hope you will be writing more. Unfortunately, I doubt in time for my Christmas treat but I’ll be sending at least two copies as gifts. I urge all readers of your blog to order at least one copy!

    Like

    1. Ingwe, thanks so much, and I’m delighted that the book spoke to you like this — what you say is exactly what I would most hope to hear from a reader, and precisely why I wrote the book in this age of trauma narratives and grisly serial killer/rapist dramas, all of which, to be frank, I hate with a passion.

      I’m going to do a post soon saying more about how and why I wrote the book (and plugging it of course!) and I’ll talk in that post about some of the things you mention here.

      Like

      1. Glad to see a message from you. I was becoming a little concerned about your long absence. Hope we’ll see an update on teh Enquiry soon

        Like

  33. Gordon, I very much look forward to your post concerning the book. And I had to laugh at your reference to the “trauma narratives.” When we scan (usually in vain) for something good to watch on TV, if the drama begins with a semi-naked female teenanger being puursued through a pine forest, we sigh and turn to repeats of ‘The Vicar of Dibley’ or, as a special treat, ‘Tutti Fruitti’ with Robbie Coltrane, Richard Wilson and Emma Thompson.

    Like

  34. I noticed it Cubby – I meant to post earlier but think I commented on it on Wings, then forgot!

    The paper with the agenda is the link given on the second box down on this page:

    https://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/CurrentCommittees/111052.aspx

    What I was hoping for was to see the government’s timeline – the outline document showing what happened when they promised to produce, even if they are having terrible trouble finding all the evidence, despite it already having been part of two court cases and already having been extracted from them twice, but, according to the Deputy First Minister, Mr Swinney, it’s all levy & McCrae’s fault for not getting through the tranche of 400 or so jumbled messy documents, half of which totally irrelevant, quick enough. Yup, Mr Swinney, amazing how, if you make something late and as difficult as possible, how easy it is to blame someone else for your constant obstruction and delay to a delicate inquiry that needs to be resolved as quickly as possible.

    No written evidence in yet though. I hope the committee at least has it!

    We should, of course, be pleased that Mr Swinney has kindly become embedded in the whole affair – he didn’t seem to have much involvement at all in the conspiracy, except to agree to be a useful man,,, and probably agree with everything else – and it will be good to see him get shown the door too, if that comes to pass (he’s not innocent, as deputy, he is fully compliant). Rev Stu thinks he might get his jotters over the legal advice stuff – Gordon, once you are back on the trail, it would be good if you can clarify some of the muddled legal advice stuff for me, is it a separate thing to extracting evidence held by the courts, or is Swinney obfuscating on that too,,, or is that the Lord Advocate?

    So, we have appearing tomorrow morning, Judith Mackinnon – no word on if it’s in person this time – for her second showing. Now, she is the key witness I guess for this stage – investigation of complaints against Alex Salmond – because she did the investigating. Apparently the report she produced was so bad the Judicial Review court has banned it ever reaching the light of day – personally, I’d be a teensy bit embarrassed if I’d produced something so wholly condemned, but, hey, some people have no shame in them. Actually,,, that might have been the Permamanent (let’s hope not) Secretary’s report based on Mackinnon’s – whatever, whichever. Judith Mackinnon was heavily involved in the development of the procedure alongside Nicola Richards (Director of People, ie head of HR, though not HR herself?).

    Gillian Russell is also appearing in the morning, I think this is her first appearance. Gillian Russell was appointed as the ‘confidential sounding board’ – Leslie Evans couldn’t tell the committee why this position was dropped immediately after complaints had been made against Alex Salmond, interestingly – and Evans, as Permanent Secretary, appointed her and sent out an everyone email to staff on the 13th Nov 2017 telling everyone about it. Evans obviously felt her earlier encouraging emails to try and trawl for complaints wasn’t working well enough, and people needed a wee push. Russell was outwith HR, and someone to approach with ‘concerns’ not in the normal chain of command – as Director of Safer Communities (yeah, who knows who makes these up), she’s still in the higher echelons of the civil service though. Interestingly, Judith Mackinnon sends an email to HR (or ‘people directorate’ or whatever) on the 14th Nov – the DAY AFTER Russell is appointed – saying no one has contacted Gillian Russell yet (evidence under the procedure section, FN45/XX072) – a wee bit soon to be expecting a response I’d have thought. Just shows how *eager* they were to get results for the First Minister and Permanent Secretary.

    Looking at my crib-sheet, Gillian Russell is the one that received the ‘concern’ from Ms A on the 22nd Nov 2017 – two days after Somers’ approached Ms A for the first time. M-hm. Ms A is also the one that had been involved in a prior process over Alex Salmond (that is, she’d had a complaint dealt with previously, at the time). Instantly on Gillian Russell being approached, everyone involved knew about it – Nicola Richards, Judith Mackinnon, and therefore the Perm Secretary, and likely the FM. Gillian Russell wasn’t involved in developing the procedure as far as I can tell, but she’d had plenty of contact with the usual suspects. Ms A made her formal complaint on 16th Jan 2018, after being encouraged to do so on the 12th and the 14th of December by Nicola Richards, after advising she should ‘take time to think about it’.

    Anyway – that’s some background to the morning session, who they are, where they fit into the procedure development timeline. I’m now assuming that all the civil servants are competent, and were doing their job well – except for the part about working in the public’s best interests – and under instruction from ministers,,, well, I say minsterS but it seems only the First Minister was really involved.

    I think it’s good to keep in mind that – so we are told – no general staff knew about this new procedure solely constructed for former ministers – and that MsA and MsB came forward with these ‘serious complaints’ – as the current FM keeps reminding us time and again – totally out of the blue about historical events. Remarkable that John Hynd had just happened to, also out of the blue, have created *just the exact thing* needed that could be used to deal with those very unusual complaints. Remarkable coincidence.

    I’ll have to make this a two-parter, and cut down on the irony and verbosity next!

    Like

  35. Back to the 1st of December committee meeting – the afternoon session is unusual because it’s being held while parliament sits, and apparently that needs special agreement from the parliament,,, which they’ve obviously given. What prompted this decision, I’m not sure, but it looks like that everyone is eager for them to make progress. Well, except for the Scottish government, who are the only reason there have been so many delays. At least we know ScotGov is good at something – delaying and obfuscation.

    First up is Nicola Richards – she’s been a witness before, and I’ve mentioned her enough above. I’ll speculate here that she might be a weak link in the wallpaper covering the whole affair: she seems to be very intelligent, and even though she was relaxed and confident seeming in her first meeting, it sometimes edged onto hysteria – “look for a new job hahaha” was a bit of a strange thing to say at an inquiry – not that I think any of them will break or do any whistleblowing, but she’s been sloppier than I’d expect from,,, well, that’s too much speculation. Her direct involvement in the procedure development, and direct contact with the complainers, and constant contact with Judith Mackinnon, means it will be interesting to find out how directly involved she was with the investigation.

    Next up, John Somers – Nicola Sturgeon’s right hand man – I’m sure will be a disappointment, and not give a straight answer to anything – John Swinney has extracted a caveat from the committee, for Somers to be allowed to show up, they can’t ask about anything that’s not in the government’s non-existent written evidence. I’m detecting a flaw there. But still, it’ll be interesting to see how he explains away his meetings with Ms A on the 20th and 21st of Nov 2017, where she made a disclosure to him (John Swinney wrote that in a letter to committee, so it IS written evidence!). Those were the two days before Ms A approaches Gillian Russell to raise a concern.

    It’s going to be action packed sessions – which I won’t see live so will have to wait for archiving – any gossip, please let me know.

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  36. Next up, John Somers – Nicola Sturgeon’s right hand man – I’m sure will be a disappointment…

    I’m hoping not Contrary. The critical element of Somers’ involvement is these two meetings, which are in the government’s evidence, and the questions are very simple:

    1. How did you come to be in contact with Complainant A? Who put you in touch with her?
    2. Given that you had no responsibility for investigating such complaints, and no involvement in the work on the new procedure, why did you have two formal meetings on successive days with Complainant A?
    3. Given that you were the PPS to the First Minister, and she was legally responsible for investigating such complaints, why did you say nothing to her about these meetings when they were set up?
    4. Given that you were the PPS to the First Minister, and she was legally responsible for investigating such complaints, why did you say nothing to her about the outcome of these meetings?
    5. Given that you were the PPS to the First Minister, why did you say nothing at all to her about these meetings during the four months between the end of November 2017, and the end of March 2018, which is when she claims she first heard of the allegations against AS?
    6. Who did you discuss the set-up and outcome of the meetings with?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think we all hope not,,, that’s why I said I expect disappointment! I’m a bit if a ‘hope for the best, expect the worst’ sort of person, so trying to keep a lid on the hoping part.

      Good questions! Though from no. 3 on I would ask why he didn’t inform the FM, I would simply ask if he did. Given that, at the time, she’d be investigating, and that it was of interest to her (the subject being the ex FM).

      I would prefer to find out that he was instructed by the FM to approach Ms A, and possibly your question 1, if answered honestly, would reveal this. He could easily say they were pals and she wanted to meet though. Should he be asked for evidence that’s how it was (‘oops I deleted all those texts’ is the answer)(but it was a recorded meeting,,, hm)? None of them, Ms A, Somers, the FM, have anything to gain from revealing anything, and everything to lose.

      I think then, we are left with trickery in questions, or banking on some sudden case of conscience (unlikely, given the people and what they’ve all been involved in). So, a few quick fire questions on generalities to start with,

      – what other involvement did he have in procedure development before that point?
      – How many meetings did he attend with the FM regarding the development?
      – Did he deal with all correspondence on the procedure development for the FM?
      – Was he instructed directly by the FM on all correspondence, or did he deal with any himself without consultation?
      – Did he have involvement in all policy changes that were happening or only saw the procedure regarding ministers and former ministers?
      – Did he know about the substance of the former ministers procedure before meeting Ms A?
      – Did he inform Ms A of the procedure during the meetings?
      – Why were there two meetings over two days?
      – Did he offer her reassurances based on his knowledge of procedure development?
      – Did he encourage her?
      – Did he consult with the FM before the meeting?
      – Did he consult with the FM between the meetings?
      – Did the FM encourage him to receive complaints?
      – After meeting Ms A did he approach Gillian Russell himself?
      – Did he approach the FM with his knowledge?
      – Did he pretend he didn’t know after Ms A raised concerns, and after Gillian Russell revealed it to everyone?
      – How much did he think the procedure changed after this knowledge was shared?
      – What did he think the main changes meant for how the investigation would work?
      – Did he notice any change in the kind of communications to and from the FM after this revelation?
      – For the official letter sent from FM to the Perm Sec on the 22nd, it was drafted for a week before, did he share his knowledge in the days before to shape that drafting?
      – How often did the FM request to be kept updated on developments?
      – Did he ensure the FM was immediately informed about any developments specifically on the procedure for former ministers?
      – Was he aware at the time that the FM would have to investigate any allegations?
      – Did he communicate on many aspects without the FMs knowledge?
      – Would he have attended other meetings without the FM being present?,, etc

      Hmm, okay, maybe they wouldn’t have time to ask all the questions I think should be asked! Jackie Baillie might get a fair few of them in, though, and I suspect some of these will be asked, she likes to keep witnesses on their toes. Have to wait and see…

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      1. That’s a pretty forensic dissection Contrary. Wish you were on the Committee…

        But I don’t think he can get away with this:

        He could easily say they were pals and she wanted to meet though….

        It was a formal meeting logged in his official diary.

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  37. I’ve just watched today’s questioning and what I find even more frustrating than the “ummings, I don’t remembers, I’ll need to check and write to you, I wasn’t involved etc” are the questioners’ seeming failure (apart from Ms Baillie) to adequately prepare their questions but, more importantly, having asked a question, to then themselves put forward possible anwers.
    So many times during today’s sessions, dificult questions, that had the subject in some difficulty, were wasted by the questioner saying “that’s ok it could have been X or perhaps it was Y”. Sensing the questioned’s discomfort, they moved on and let them off the hook.
    Lawyers know how to examine in chief and how cross-examine. We know that people will often disclose far more than they intend if you let them ramble on. Today, they were bought up, repeatedly by the interrogator cutting them short by excusing comments. FFS-this is an enquiry, trying to get to the truth of a government conspiring to have a former first minister imprisoned on trumped-up charges! It’s not the sixth-form debating society.

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  38. Huh, that sounds like yet another delight, Ingwe, can’t wait to watch it.

    Here is even yet another delight, for anyone that can stomach yet another letter from the Deputy First Minister, John Swinney, new in today, hot off the press, at the bottom of this page:

    https://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/CurrentCommittees/115759.aspx

    My sharp non-legal mind summarises it as: what a load of bollocks. But maybe someone else can prise a modicum of sincerity or honesty from it? Wriggling out of legal advice being published! ‘No precedent’ my arse. What a weasel. Then offering to have them (convener and presiding officer) go into the lions den (cabinet) for a little chat. I know where I’d tell him to go with that suggestion!

    Like

    1. Contrary, I’m sure I heard during the coverage yesterday, that the legal advice was to be disclosed. It was early on in the morning session. I was surprised, I must admit, and may listen again from the archive.

      Like

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