CONTRARY TO THE FACTS: THE EVIDENCE OF LESLIE EVANS AND JUDITH MACKINNON

It won’t surprise readers of this blog to learn that two of the Scottish Government’s most senior officials – Head of “People Advice” Judith Mackinnon and Permanent Secretary Leslie Evans – have once again given evidence to the Salmond inquiry which is contrary to the facts.

In this and the next couple of posts I’ll detail some of the relevant facts and evidence, and I’ll try to explain where this quite extraordinary behaviour by the Scottish Government fits into their ongoing war on Alex Salmond, and on the truth.

The Facts

In January 2018, Mackinnon was engaged in an email correspondence with the person designated in the heavily redacted Scottish Government documents produced for the Salmond inquiry as “Head of Branch, People Directorate 2”.

The subject of the correspondence had the catchy title “Complaints against Ministers Tracked version which shows union comments and final version which went to FM”.

The context of the correspondence was that the First Minister and her Permanent Secretary, in their panic to have Sturgeon removed from any role in the procedure at the earliest possible date, had put everyone under extreme pressure in the previous month to have the process finalised and approved. This had resulted, among other things, in a rushed and derisory “consultation” with the unions in which their last-minute comments had been tracked by HR onto a draft of the procedure. A few cosmetic changes had then been made in response before the procedure was hastily approved on the very same morning that the final union comments were received.

A further result of this was that the unions had not even been informed by the time of the January correspondence what the approved procedure was, and so the delicate task of pretending that their voices had somehow been heard and that this had been any kind of normal negotiation with management on a subject of considerable import for their members now fell to Mackinnon and her HR colleagues.

In carrying out this task, Mackinnon, who by this stage had already had extensive interaction with complainers Ms A and Ms B, and who would shortly become the Investigating Officer of their complaints, was also pursuing what was by now a well-established HR view, one that had been clearly set out in an email of 23 November 2017 from her boss Nicola Richards to Permanent Secretary Evans, and copied to Mackinnon:

“We would need to consult with the individual before disclosing to another party or the police because of the risk of the matter getting into the press and the individuals being identified.

“We have a duty of care for our staff which means we shouldn’t do something that puts them at risk – so if they don’t want us to share information or go to the police, it would be very difficult to justifying [sic] doing so (without putting them at risk of being identified and wider impacts).”

Despite the usual management-speak, that seems pretty clear. If a complainer doesn’t want to go to the police, it would be very difficult for the Scottish Government to justify doing so.

This is not just for the reason which is obvious to any lawyer, and indeed to any person endowed with an ounce of common sense, namely that people should be free to decide for themselves what they want to do about such important matters which will inevitably have the most profound effect on their lives.

It is also because going against a complainer’s expressed wishes in such a matter would patently breach the Scottish Government’s much-trumpeted “duty of care” – the Holy Grail of duties if the constant citing of it by Evans and her crew to justify their every action is anything to go by.

Nonetheless, it’s only fair to point out that this same email indicates that all of the key players in the process – Evans, Richards, Russell, Allison and Mackinnon herself – were due to have a further discussion of this and other important topics:

“Perm Sec may want to discuss with Gillian, Barbara, Judith and I next week so that we can reach a view on the best way ahead.”

It can hardly be doubted that such a discussion took place nor that a final and very clear view was reached on it because it is that clear and final view that Mackinnon then set out in her January correspondence with “Head of Branch, People Directorate 2”.

On 8 January 2018, Mackinnon wrote:

“… have added one comment in the last paragraph (nothing to do with the unions comments) – [Redacted]. We will have to draw James Hynds attention to this as it is a change.”

Mackinnon is referring to paragraph 19 of the approved procedure, one of two paragraphs covering “engagement with the police”. (It may be noted in passing that this reference to changing the procedure long after it was supposedly set in stone on 20 December 2017 is far from unusual in the emails of those involved, a subject considered briefly again below.)

The paragraph is as follows:

“19. Throughout the process, all available steps will be taken to support the staff member and ensure they are protected from any harmful behaviour. However, if at any point it becomes apparent to the SG that criminal behaviour might have occurred the SG may bring the matter directly to the attention of the Police. Also, if it becomes apparent that the matter being raised is part of a wider pattern of behaviour it may be necessary for the SG to consider involving the Police in light of the information provided. Should either of these steps be necessary the staff member will be advised and supported throughout.”

In their tracked comments to that paragraph (and probably on the basis that they thought they were entering a dialogue with responsible employers as opposed to taking their one and only shot at being heard by zealots), the unions had written:

“What is HR’s role?”

Mackinnon now added her own comment right underneath that one:

“Actually, we cannot notify the police if the victim/staff member doesn’t want us to.”

So could that be any clearer? We do not have to guess what the outcome was of the discussions between all of the key players as mooted back in the email of 23 November.

Here is their unequivocal commitment to complainers in black and white.

The Scottish Government cannot – and therefore, of course, will not – notify the police of a specific complaint if the complainer does not want them to.

On 9 January 2018, “Head of Branch, People Directorate 2” replied to Mackinnon:

“Thanks Judith. We’ll need to pick it up with them [the unions]. I guess the drafting may be wide enough to allow for the situation you envisage. Maybe we should put an extra sentence in to note that we don’t inform the police without the employee’s consent?”

Note what is being agreed here. An “extra sentence” will clarify the decided view of the Scottish Government that it cannot refer specific complaints to the police without the consent of the complainer but, even without such a clarifying sentence, “the drafting may be wide enough” that this view can be taken as forming part of the existing wording anyway.

As a lawyer of some experience in such matters, I am happy to confirm that the view of “Head of Branch, People Directorate 2” is correct. Paragraph 19 says only that “the SG may bring the matter directly to the attention of the Police”. As long as everyone involved in the process understands that the specific complaint may only be referred directly by the SG to the police with the consent of the complainer, there is no need for any revision.

Nonetheless, Mackinnon persisted. An hour later on 9 January 2018, she responded to the question about adding the extra sentence:

“That would do it I think.”

Four hours later, on the same date, “Head of Branch, People Directorate 2” came back to Mackinnon:

“See attached. We will need to pick up with James H on Thursday.”

This is the second reference in the correspondence to James Hynd, the Cabinet Secretary, who drafted all of the versions of the procedure before the dramatic Evans “recast” described elsewhere on this blog rendered him largely redundant, but who was still consulted, for form’s sake as much as anything it would seem, on such matters.

Of much greater significance is the attachment, the same tracked version of the procedure that had been going back and forth between them, but which now featured a revised paragraph 19 with this “extra sentence” duly added in accordance with Mackinnon’s wishes:

“SG as employer will not refer specific cases to the police without the knowledge/consent of the employee.”

So then paragraph 19, as revised at the specific request of Mackinnon, now read as follows:

“19. Throughout the process, all available steps will be taken to support the staff member and ensure they are protected from any harmful behaviour. However, if at any point it becomes apparent to the SG that criminal behaviour might have occurred the SG may bring the matter directly to the attention of the Police. Also, if it becomes apparent that the matter being raised is part of a wider pattern of behaviour it may be necessary for the SG to consider involving the Police in light of the information provided. SG as employer will not refer specific cases to the police without the knowledge/consent of the employee. Should either of these steps be necessary the staff member will be advised and supported throughout.”

As usual in the inquiry proceedings, we do not have the paperwork for the meeting with James Hynd or other follow-up on this chapter, notwithstanding that it is central to the inquiry’s remit and would no doubt be very easy to locate and provide. (I’m the world’s biggest Luddite but even I fancy my chances with a simple document search for the subject heading “Complaints against Ministers Tracked version which shows union comments and final version which went to FM”.)

However, we know that Mackinnon’s proposed revision did not make it into the finally published procedure, and the reasons for that are hardly difficult to divine.

From mid-November onwards, it had become more and more critical to Evans and Sturgeon to have a decided procedure which gave Sturgeon plausible deniability of her knowledge of the complaints against Salmond just as soon as anything remotely coherent could be cobbled together.

After 20 December 2017, when this was, at least in their eyes, accomplished, it was seen as risking the whole project to change so much as a comma in the 20 December version. That’s why, for example, something as central as the description of what became Mackinnon’s role has her wrongly described in the crucial paragraph 11 of the published procedure as the “senior officer” despite the fact that, as a sop to one of the union suggestions, “senior officer” was changed elsewhere in the procedure to “Investigating Officer.”

Evidently, even to rectify such an obvious inconsistency in a key term was deemed too risky.

(As noted above, though, it’s clear that not everyone got the memo about this, as a rather extraordinary chain of correspondence involving “Head of Branch, People Directorate 1” demonstrates. His or her drafts of the procedure, produced in late January, well after the procedure was supposedly set in stone, cheerfully sought to re-write the whole procedure to cover all complaints against Ministers, was sent to the various key players, and appears to have been left to die quietly on the vine.)

The evidence: Judith Mackinnon

This is part of Judith Mackinnon’s evidence on oath before a Parliamentary Committee on 1 December 2020:

Margaret Mitchell: Right. The referral [of the Salmond complainers’ specific complaints to the police] was not considered until a little later, then. Should it have been considered at the point at which the concern was raised?

Judith Mackinnon: Do you mean at the stage at which the initial formal complaint came in?

Margaret Mitchell: Yes

Judith Mackinnon: I am not aware that it was considered. I think that we were very much in the fact-finding stage. I do not remember an actual conversation, when the complaints came in, about reporting at that stage to the police.

Margaret Mitchell: Okay—but an option to report to the police was part of the route map, was it not?

Judith Mackinnon: Yes, I believe so.

Margaret Mitchell: So, that must have formed part of the thinking and discussions as the process was developed—and certainly when the complaints were received and the investigation took place.

Judith Mackinnon: I think that once the facts had been gathered, and the full picture was known, that was the stage at which the permanent secretary, as the deciding officer, might have considered the appropriateness of referring the matter to the police.”

That evidence is contrary to the facts.

Ms A lodged her formal complaint on 16 January 2018. Mackinnon was appointed Investigating Officer on the same day.

Ms B lodged her formal complaint, written for her by Mackinnon, on 23 January 2018.

These complaints “came in” just eight and fifteen days respectively after Mackinnon specifically asserted in writing that:

“… we cannot notify the police if the victim/staff member doesn’t want us to.”

It is inconceivable that she could have forgotten, then or now, that this was her clear and decided view.

The complaints “came in” just seven and fourteen days respectively after Mackinnon’s own request for an “extra sentence” in paragraph 19 was answered with the following:

“SG as employer will not refer specific cases to the police without the … consent of the employee.”

It is inconceivable that Mackinnon could have forgotten, then or now, that this was her clear and decided view of how paragraph 19 was to be interpreted and applied.

Mackinnon’s evidence that she was not aware of the issue of referral to the police being considered at the time when the complaints were lodged is contrary to the facts.

As the process was being developed, Mackinnon received and endorsed her boss’s email of 23 November 2017:

“We would need to consult with the individual before disclosing to … the police because of the risk of the matter getting into the press and the individuals being identified.

“… if they don’t want us to share information or go to the police, it would be very difficult to justifying [sic] doing so …”

It is inconceivable that Mackinnon could have forgotten, then or now, that this was the clear view being taken by herself and her Scottish Government colleagues on this matter as the policy was being developed in November 2017.

Mackinnon’s evidence that referral of complaints to the police did not form part of the thinking and discussions as the process was developed, and certainly when the complaints were received and the investigation took place, is contrary to the facts.

Mackinnon’s evidence that the appropriateness of referring the matter to the police was not considered until the stage when the facts had been gathered, and the full picture was known, is also contrary to the facts.

The evidence: Leslie Evans

This is part of Leslie Evans’s evidence on affirmation before a Parliamentary Committee on 12 January 2021:

“Ms Mitchell’s main point, if I picked it up correctly, is about the referral of the case to Police Scotland and the Crown Office and whether that was against the wishes of the complainers. It was against the wishes of the complainers—I understand that. The decision to refer the matter to the Crown Office was consistent with the procedure. You will have seen that in paragraph 19 of the procedure.”

The fact is that as at 9 January 2018, the Scottish Government’s clear and decided interpretation of paragraph 19 of the procedure was that they could not, and should not, refer specific complaints to the police without the express consent of the complainer.

The Scottish Government have produced no evidence to suggest that this interpretation was ever challenged or amended.

Evans’s evidence is contrary to the facts.

This is a further part of Evans’s evidence:

“… it says in the procedure that the Scottish Government may decide to refer a complaint to the police even if the complainer does not want it.”

Neither paragraph 19 nor any other part of the procedure says anything of the kind. The Scottish Government’s own interpretation of their own procedure in January 2018 was exactly the opposite of what Evans claims in her evidence on affirmation.

Evans’s evidence is contrary to the facts.

The war on Alex Salmond, and on the truth

Regular readers of this blog will have worked out by now what lies behind all that is set out above. It’s purely and simply part of the self-described “war” being waged on Alex Salmond by Nicola Sturgeon, Leslie Evans and all of their hirelings.

In November and December 2017 and in January 2018, it was never anticipated by any of them that a report to the police and consequent criminal investigation would be necessary for them to achieve their principal aims of establishing beyond all doubt their Me Too credentials while insulating the First Minister entirely from any criticism that might come from ruining beyond repair the man whom she herself called her mentor and person closest to her of anyone outside her family.

As I’ve detailed in earlier posts, and will return to again soon, this was achieved in the truly remarkable “recast” of the complaints procedure, tailored entirely and solely to get Alex Salmond, which was completed at nearly midnight on 5 December 2017, removing the First Minister of Scotland completely from the procedures of her own Government and doing away also with every last trace of procedural fairness for Alex Salmond.

It is hardly surprising then that the procedure at that stage still recognised the very obvious fact that whether to report things to the police is, and should be, entirely a matter for the responsible adult concerned. That fair and reasonable component of it was of no moment to them at the time.

By now we all know what changed in the months that followed.

Between January and August 2018, it became increasingly obvious to the whole sorry gang that they were in the most serious trouble. This was not least because Alex Salmond was sharing with them the advice of his senior counsel, which spelled out exactly why this was so, even on the very limited information Salmond’s defence then had.

Given that they themselves must have at least suspected that this was just the tip of the iceberg of what they’d perpetrated, and that things were exponentially worse for them than even Salmond knew – a suspicion which would soon be confirmed for them by their own senior counsel, when competent external legal advice was finally taken – it was obvious that an exit strategy was needed, and needed urgently.

And that of course is where the clear and decided Scottish Government policy on referral to the police, and of course the wishes of the complainers, were unceremoniously set aside.

If Salmond could be charged with criminal offences, the civil court proceedings which were inevitably coming could be sidelined – “sisted”, or suspended, to use the legal term – while criminal proceedings took their course. The gleeful and hysterical press coverage that would then be forthcoming from the ever-reliable Scottish media would ensure that the war was already all but won.

If Salmond could then be convicted of even one of those offences, then the war would be won in a rout.

Who, after all, would care what wee corners the Scottish Government might have cut in their righteous crusade to get justice for these brave complainers against a powerful sex offender?

The playbook could not be more obvious, nor is it the first time it has been run, by any means. It was only unfortunate for them that the integrity of their own counsel forced them to concede the judicial review just days short of the Salmond charges, and a decisive victory in the first battle of the war.

How they must have cursed.

There’s a lot more to follow, so please stay tuned.

103 thoughts on “CONTRARY TO THE FACTS: THE EVIDENCE OF LESLIE EVANS AND JUDITH MACKINNON

  1. Superb work Gordon.

    It has taken me a little while to read this. That, and the fact that I don’t feel the need to go back over any of it to better understand it, demonstrates what a mammoth and excellent job you have done here.

    The contributions from Robin McAlpine, Craig Murray and now Mandy Rhodes since Friday appear to have altered public perception of this despicable episode. That makes your forensic analysis of the facts of the case increasingly important as more and more people are willing to look at things afresh. I certainly hope they do.

    Liked by 7 people

  2. Very good analysis Gordon.

    I suspect that Leslie Evan’s statement to the effect that, the procedure provides for the SG to report the matter to the police even if the complainer doesn’t want that, is consistent with the use of “knowledge/consent” of the employee in the paragraph. From this, it possible for the complainer to either know of the SG’s report to the police and/or consent to that. In other words, by introducing ‘knowledge/consent’ allows for knowledge alone to be a condition precedent for the referral to the police. Consent may or may not be required. I’ve cut and pasted the paragraph below:

    “Also, if it becomes apparent that the matter being raised is part of a wider pattern of behaviour it may be necessary for the SG to consider involving the Police in light of the information provided. SG as employer will not refer specific cases to the police without the knowledge/consent of the employee. Should either of these steps be necessary the staff member will be advised and supported throughout.”

    You know how we lawyers work!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It also seems reasonable to surmise that the beginning of that particular sentence in Paragraph 19, quoted in this article, may also provide a loophole, however flimsy.

      “SG as employer will not refer specific cases to the police without the knowledge/consent of the employee. ”

      It is very specific about the circumstances in which the caveat is couched.

      The SG as an “employer.”. Possibly leaving sufficient wriggle room for referring the matter to the police not as the employer but with some other hat on, the Scottish Government?

      Is this why that part of the text in the article has been printed in italics?

      It would be helpful to know one way or the other from someone with the relevant legal knowledge, experience and expertise whether this does or does not represent a realistic and practical loophole?

      Thanks in advance.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. My take on this, Ingwe, Dave and Donald, is still essentially the one I gave in the post. I suspect that the “/” in the proposed revision to the paragraph is just another example of the lack of thought and precision that pervades this whole business, but I also think it doesn’t matter.

      The paragraph was not ultimately revised and so the proposed revision, like Mackinnon’s comment and the response of her colleague (which says unambiguously that he’s trying to provide a requirement of consent), affords us no more nor less than background material with which to assess what the interpretation of the policy then was.

      When those at the heart of drafting it say that consent is required and that the policy as it stands is consistent with that requirement (an interpretation I agree with), that seems conclusive to me.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I agree the lack of the word “or” is outweighed by the contemporaneous evidence of those drafting the policy.

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  3. Even shorter: just telling the complainer that the matter will be or has been reported to the police is sufficient to comply with that permissive paragraph. Consent of the complainer is not required. Mere knowledge of the reporting or intention to report would appear to be sufficient.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My immediate thought too. Even in the dry corners of engineering reports I am deeply suspicious of ‘a/b’ text, as for certainty you need to be clear if this means ‘a&b’ or if it means ‘a or b’ or if it means either as in ‘a and/or b’.
      It’s usual use is to try snd allow a wide interpretation.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. As a scientist I concur. As you know our work is peer reviewed. The wise authors will run the text passed colleagues for comments before submitting to avoid howlers or ambiguous phrasing.

        Having done my share of marking essays and commenting on thesis chapters and remembering my own efforts it is hard to write things perfectly.

        And having written things by committee both with drafts pinging back and forth and horror, everyone sitting in the same room, one person typing laboriously on a computer getting a readable text out takes effort.

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      1. I’ve re-read your excellent post again Gordon and I stand corrected. I’d missed that Mackinnon’s proposed amendment was not accepted. So it is clear that consent of the complainer to report the matter to the police required the complainers’ consent.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. very well written – its a complete travesty. I do hope this campaign of harassment, bullying and using media to spin propoganda comes to an end and Ms Sturgeon, Leslie Evans and the others are held to account for actions taken. More so I hope it is found they are unfit for office

    Liked by 7 people

  5. A forensic analysis of what has gone on, you are performing a quite invaluable public service for this country. In addition you are doing the work that effective Journalism should be capable of but isn’t, in Scotland.

    Liked by 7 people

    1. Many thanks, Mike, that’s much appreciated. To paraphrase Chomsky, if journalists working for the mainstream media could even think of doing this kind of thing, they wouldn’t be journalists working for the mainstream media for very long.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Gordon, the date in the line following Evidence: Judith McKinnon says 1 January 2021. Typo?

    Of course Evans said in her testimony that the reason she passed the details to the Crown Office and not directly to the police was that she was following legal advice to do so and that is why she did not follow her own procedure that she also said was not her procedure (the orphaned procedure as Baillie described it).

    As the Scotgov say they followed legal advice in putting together the procedure it begs the question why did the legal advice change when it came to the actual case of the Salmond complaints. Did the legal advice change? Or was Evans lying? Why not pass it straight to the police? Evans never gave a reason just that she was following legal advice to send it to the Crown Office. In addition, the Committee never followed up and asked is the formal procedure now changed to send a possible criminal complaint to the Crown Office or was this just a special one off change for the Salmond complaints.

    The mountain of lies and contradictory evidence that has been put before this Committee is astonishing but some people just get baffled by it all and think Evans comes across as very professional.

    Gordon, your articles, as always, are well worth waiting for.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Corrected, Cubby! Many thanks for the kind words and for the further comments. The point about COPFS is particularly telling and shows their utter arrogance. If you or I were pals with the Lord Advocate and wanted to show everyone that we weren’t seeking any special treatment, we’d go down the local cop shop to report an alleged crime, especially if we’d promised publicly in writing that this is what we’d do.

      These people, with the Lord Advocate sat there as a Minister in their Government, cared so little even about the appearance of fairness, or the terms of their own policy, that they went not to the polis like everyone else but to their mate’s underling, the Crown Agent.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Gordon, you set out just exactly what I was driving at.

        I hope you and GeeK are correct but I have always worried that the arrogance they display makes them think they are untouchable and certainly Murrell seems happy to brazen it all out and just blatantly lie and change his story from moment to moment but no one in the SNP has the bottle to do anything. They all seem scared – perhaps they are right to be. Look at Ferrier, Hirst, Clive Thomson. Murray.

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  7. Seems to me the irony of all this is that, with most powerful men who’ve been in politics as long as Salmond, the initial plot might have been enough to make them disappear to avoid further scrutiny. It takes someone who really knows he has nothing to hide to fight that kind of plot. And even then, you’d expect once the case against someone so apparently marmite is public knowledge, plenty of vexatious claims would be made even if the police trawl of hundreds of women (and apparently children!) hadn’t. The whole thing really stinks.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Very good point, Cath. I think it’s very telling when Gail Sheridan says that over the years as cabin crew you get to experience and/or hear of who is creepy or worse (and Gail was a regular on the Glasgow/London flights). In all her years she never experienced, or heard of, anything of the kind about Salmond.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. The idea of making the complainers, those who knew their complaints were anything but serious go to court was cruelty of the highest order. Complaining that one of the people who pinged her hair was bad but none of the others were was always going to be a stretch. Things happening or rather not in front of witnesses ditto. Not to mention people at the dinner in question who knew one and knew one was not there.

    Putting Salmon on the stump in an HR sting is one thing, even if it was unfair to him. But going to court to give sworn testimony and be cross examined by top QC’s who would not quail at that. I’m a scientist used to picking my words carefully but I would quail at the prospect.

    If all complainers of sexual misconduct were forced into court to make complaints and every single one proceeded to trial regardless (which seems a COPFS speciality atm, paper thin cases) then the courts would be overwhelmed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Funny you should say that Muscleguy, about complainers being forced to make a complaint – someone gave a list of the top lawyers in the Scottish Government, and the Lord Advocate’s deputy,,, well, this was my comment previously

      “Alison Di Rollo is an interesting character, what little info there is about her on the Internet. Worked as head of COPFS new sex crimes unit prior to being appointed by NS in 2016, very keen on doing away with corroboration, and other interesting snippets. As deputy to the Lord Advocate, she’d be next in line to make legal decisions for the Scottish gov’t if, say, the Lord Advocate recused himself.”

      One of the other ‘interesting snippets’ was that there was some publicity around her advocating people being at risk of prosecution if they DIDN’T make a complaint. As the Solicitor General, I’m guessing she has some input to the legal advice to the Scottish Government. Hm.

      Anyway – getting railroaded into criminal procedings is hardly something that’s going to “encourage” complaints, as Leslie Evans was once keen to do (during the brief “unique” spell in 2017).

      Liked by 2 people

    1. It is the Procurator Fiscal who decides to prosecute – I don’t think the police or the PF needs your agreement for that any of it, if they believe a crime has been committed. I don’t think you are under any obligation to cooperate if you are the alleged victim either.

      The complainers made complaints to the government (their employer), and the government reported the complaints to the crown office,,, and no, I don’t think they needed to cooperate – they seem to have required an awful lot of assurances that they’d remain anonymous, who knows what other inducements were offered.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Contrary – ” who knows what other inducements were offered” – the right to anonymity of the accusers conveniently allows for there to be no possible transparency regarding possible inducements or the jigsaw comes in to play.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Anonymity has been expressed as very important.In the present situation should these women .The only people not been questioned be questioned,even privately! ?Everyone else are being questioned,and they lost the verdict. They were let loose to sling mud,and ruin a persons reputation,and a long prison sentence.Leslie Evans had problems in Edinburgh,Leslie Evans worked with David Mundell in the Scottish Office.Most people know David Mundell has no liking,for Scotland and the S.N.P..It seems to be a convenient situation.This at a time when Independence is beckoning.The out come get one person or two for the price of one!??Why was David Mundell removed from the Scottish Office??? This is from me speculation!!

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    2. Linda, you ask the crucial question. The evidence to answer it is in the hands of COPFS and the Lord Advocate. Not only will they not disclose it but they threaten anyone who tries to do so with prosecution and imprisonment.

      It’s a national scandal.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. The SNP ministers only care about keeping their well paid cushy jobs with chauffeur driven cars. Their supporters are so brainwashed they actually believe Sturgeon’s lies when she promises them there will be another indy ref this year. She is a fraud. 👎

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I don’t want her to be a fraud – I’ve invested a lot of trust in her as, well as hours of activism and campaigning for independence and the Party. But for a good while now I’ve come to realise there is no other explanation for the lack of progress towards independence & this whole sorry tale of trying to convict an innocent man.

      And of course, she’s backed by Schrödinger’s civil servant Ms Evans who manages amazingly to be in charge of everything but responsible for nothing

      I have felt like the only person who won’t admit that their partner is a cheating, gaslighting narcissist even though the evidence is plain to see. Well unless Ms Sturgeon has hidden one very large but invisible rabbit in her hat I can now admit there is no magic plan….. of course, said invisible rabbit could be sitting on a very big pile of invisible ring-fenced independence funding and that’s why we can’t see it woven through the accounts? Ahhh y’see, there I go again…

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Mollys Mum, you have nailed it. ‘In charge of everything and responsible for nothing’, that pretty much describes the Scottish Government Human Resources Department and People Directorate as well as Leslie Evans.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. In breaking this down into the detail you have Gordon you expose the coordinated and fully considered process that the rotten cabal were putting into place to stich up Alex Salmond.

    This is criminality. This is abuse of process. This is the deliberate malign attempts to pervert the course of justice. Such behaviour is but a small step away from judicial killing. Do it once, and then where do you stop next.

    So thank you again Gordon for exposing the absolute rot at the heart of our government. As a society we need to excise this rot, prosecute the guilty, and put into place controls that prevent this type of abuse ever arising again. And yes, the guilty should be prosecuted jailed. It is that bad.

    This after all was a criminal conspiracy at the heart of our government and judicial system.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Casting aspersion without proof,the enemy for those that do not use their name to make their point.There are plenty of attacks on the S.G. no thought who really might have something to gain from all of this.The people leading this corrupt union will stop at nothing.If there is an enemy who is it?????

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  11. Gordon, I agree with you. My only point was that any ambiguity will be ruthlessly relied on and propagated. Of course it was their intention for consent to be required and yes, it was sloppy, panicky drafting.
    Whether your (and my) conclusion is conclusive for the decision maker(s), remains to be seen.
    I’ve been disappointed many times in 30 years.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. A great read indeed and will put more pressure on the guilty ones hopefully. I have read enough now to plainly see what has taken place. However, no-one has really came up with a totally creditable reason why Sturgeon went along with this whole thing. She is not stupid or naive. She must have known that it was wrong. She must have known that it was a dangerous thing to do. Her popularity and position was sky high and I cannot see how AS could be viewed as any sort of competition or threat. What made her think that it would be a good idea to enter into a plot against her old friend and mentor? What made her think it was a good idea to risk her whole political career on such flimsy evidence?

    I just cannot figure this out.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, we can only guess for now, rodmid, but my own take is that a major factor is the woke cult to which Sturgeon, Evans, Lloyd etc belong, which is like any other cult in that it blinds even plainly intelligent and high-powered types like them to everything but service of the cult.

      It would at least go some way to explaining what is otherwise inexplicable: the reality-denying GRA, the patently McCarthyite Hate Crimes Bill… and the more-MeToo-than-thou hysterical virtue-signalling that started all of this.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I concur Gordon. The only explanation that makes ‘sense’.

        To answer why a highly experienced politician would go to court to pursue AS i am also thinking that Sturgeon had recused herself by this time and dare not intervene?

        While crafty, I have always thought that she is a little too inflexible to dance with the best.

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      2. I agree entirely with your sentiments. Eventually all cults consume themselves,for they become so extreme that plain truth and honesty matters not one iota: all that matters is the cult. Orwellian in its most extreme form. It keeps reminding me of the early days of the Third Reich or for that matter East Germany before the Berlin Wall came down. That this is happening in twenty first centuary Scotland beggars belief. All that is necessary for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing.
        You are providing a real service to Scotland, in what you are doing.

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    2. Rodmid – a suggestion for you – my speculation as to a possible motivation for this whole business – which a lot of people still struggle to see and therefore cannot accept it is true.

      Sturgeon wanted to make sure that Salmond would not replace her when she departed as FM/party leader at some point in the future. She knew she would have to deliver a referendum or leave and she has decided she will leave at some point when the party get tired of her kicking the can down the road and wants Angus Robertdon to succeed her and not Salmond. Hence the stushie with Cherry over the Edinburgh seat.

      Liked by 3 people

    3. I think it’s not a matter of Sturgeon going along with the plot but that she herself is the instigator. It’s the old question: who benefits from the political assassination of Alex Salmond? Clearly it is Sturgeon herself since Salmond is the obvious figure around which opposition can rally. Sturgeon must be aware that her policy of promising independence tomorrow but not today is alienating an increasing number of SNP members. Alex returning to politics via a by-election or the 2021 elections would probably be the catalyst for a party revolt. The other participants probably went along because their careers are dependent on NS.

      Incidentally, I’m not convinced that NS is actually a true believer in the Woke agenda. She must know that sooner or later even the most ardent Nicola fan is going to be disillusioned when she never delivers independence. So Nicola has to find a support base that doesn’t primarily care about independence. Hence her support for the Wokerati in the NEC and candidate selection.

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  13. Excellent analysis Gordon – I honestly don’t know how you managed to trawl through all those emails with the Unions and tracking changes of the procedure – I abandoned them, back when I was looking at the procedure development, and decided to stop at 20th Dec when I couldn’t fathom why there was so many back and forth emails commenting on the procedure – one that had already been signed off – by the Unions and HR! So glad I don’t need to go back over them now…

    Good to see you’ve got part 1 of War and Peace written up too 😉

    “Anything remotely coherent was cobbled together” – what an excellent description of the procedure! Despite the protestations of everyone in the civil service that it was all done properly, a remarkable thing to maintain still, now, after the JR and everything, you’d think there would be a wee chink of ‘maybe we did rush it a bit’ – especially considering it wasn’t going to be published until the 8th of February. Oh. I suppose that’s why they can’t admit to rushing it; they had, in theory, a whole extra month to get things in order and actually take on board all the HR and Unions comments (and there were stacks of them after the 20th, over Christmas and new year too). So, well, there could only be one reason to rush it,,,

    I allowed myself to get distracted by starting looking at how many times Leslie Evans and Nicola Richards said that the post of Confidential Sounding Board no longer exists – meanwhile that person presents herself in the flesh, in December there, saying she’s still doing it. Leslie Evans and her ‘duty of care’ doesn’t even know that a very senior member of her staff is still carrying out a very onerous side-task, a role she was given by Evans ,,, some quotes are in order,,,

    LE: “The sounding board is not a formal part of the procedure. I will reflect on whether we would want to make the sounding board a more permanent process…” “It was not that we deliberately stopped the role – it was more that we found that fewer people were coming forward at that time” “…, and we may well wish to think about how we preserve some element of it in the future”.

    Sorry – I find it hilarious that she rambled on endlessly, on numerous occasions, obviously believing herself to be on safe territory, meanwhile she was so WRONG. Caring and with only the best interests of her staff at heart – I think not Ms Evans.

    I know – total irrelevant distraction (but using the principle of Moorov, it all counts), but I also noted, from her first session regarding the procedure & how it came to have former ministers, Evans’ said “…that was a gap that had already been identified” (in answer to Jackie Baillie). Already? Before the first iteration? When James Hynd said he made it up on his lonesome and identified the gap without any consultation? Maybe she just misspoke though, before getting any coaching.

    Also, Maureen Watt asked about a director appointed to Champion the tackling of bullying and harassment in spring of 2017 – no name given, they were a generic manager (I suspect it was Nicola Richards,,, ), and was given a team from HR to look at the ‘culture’ – did they identify the gap? Then Judith Mackinnon was employed in June 2017, then we have a review of all policies from 31st October 2017. Just SAYING. But James Hynd inventing the former ministers gap is definitely bollocks – and no one seems to have identified that same gap for former civil servants either, strangely.

    I’ve forgotten what else I was going to say about your article Gordon, I’ll come back to it!

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    1. Contrary, I hope you noticed I got your moniker into the title, albeit with different inflection and meaning!

      Yes, they can’t admit to a single bit of it or the whole edifice will collapse so in that respect they’ve been well-coached, though I could have given them that advice for a lot less than £55,000!

      It’s why we tell clients to say nothing in a police interrogation, especially to the most provoking allegations that you can easily refute or the ones for which there’s a simple, innocent explanation that you’re being encouraged to give “so this whole thing can be just sorted out now”.

      Their problem is that they’re the Scottish Government giving evidence on oath and not a wee guy suspected of housebreaking in a police station.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha, I noticed you used my moniker and thought: ‘how DARE he,,,’ 😀 It can’t have a different inflection or meaning though, because mine covers all of them, one that I can change on a whim,,, I was going to say ‘contrary to popular belief’, but that’s not true, I’m very much known for my inconstant nature. Oh well.

        Hmm, you are right about the difficulties about coaching multiple people – it’s a wonder there aren’t more inconsistencies when you consider the enormity of the task – the complexity of the events, the number of lies already told, the huge volumes of written evidence submitted, and don’t we just love those wee snippets that have slipped through, and keeping abreast of the rolling narrative alongside actually having to sound like you are being helpful. I do believe you are correct, the coaching has been good. I note also, as soon as we catch on to one catch-phrase and start having fun with it, the witnesses suddenly stop using it and have all found a new one together. Yes, pretty good coaching.

        I don’t suppose you’d also advise rambling incoherently during a police interrogation? There is no way I could remain silent – it’s a nervous reaction, rambling incoherently. Hm, I guess I better continue to try and not get caught.

        Oh, and I was just about to post this link to (well, to one of my comments, because having to write some of this stuff afresh, in summary, makes you realise the enormous variety of angles we are having to bear in mind, and it takes ages) Richard Murphy’s blog – Richard is a good guy in case you don’t know – where your blog has been linked to in comments (and not just by me!)

        https://www.taxresearch.org.uk/Blog/2021/01/15/for-those-who-thought-scotland-has-the-kind-of-leadership-we-should-aspire-to-it-may-be-time-to-think-again/#comment-873824

        He says he’s ‘recording with Alex Salmond’ today – it’ll probably be on economical matters. And says he’s working with SIC, which can only be good. Richard has been getting involved more and more with aiding the independence cause – he’s really good at explaining economical things, and has no fear of speaking his mind. Though I noted a comment that said ‘Stuart Campbell makes me look positively timid’ – (I think he’s comparing blogs,,, boys, eh?! Rolls eyes).

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Of course, going back to the original point (and not getting distracted,,,), the reason the coaching is needed, the reason there are so many inconsistencies and the reason that the whole thing appears complex can only be because they are covering up something(s), and doing it on an officially sanctioned basis.

        I know that’s what you are saying, but I just want to make it clear (in my own head) – they cannot even admit to reasonable small mistakes because it will expose the bigger cover up. So the fact that they are *not* admitting to minor mistakes shows, in and of itself, that there *is* a cover up.

        And, because they are ruining their reputations in the process, it must be a big cover up.

        If there was no cover up, there would be no problem with small errors,,,

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      3. Contrary, excellent posts on Murphys site. You should think about posting them elsewhere if you have not already done so

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      4. Really? Thanks Cubby – I didn’t feel I had covered half of it, and there was barely a mention of civil servants at all, and the comment size had already got to the massive stage so I had to stop (and the grammar is terrible),,, and I certainly wouldn’t have been able to do even that much without Gordon’s guidance!

        The comments are massive though, so I think it might be best to still link to them if I can sneak it into other blogs, but I’ll take your advice and try and give them a wider spread. Richard is very tolerant of my long rambling comments (I think Gordon has to be included in the tolerant category too mind you 😀 ) but plenty of folk get irritated by them.

        I think once this is over (,,, it will be, one day, won’t it?) Gordon will really have the opportunity to write a War & Peace sized book on it – he needs to start looking for a publisher soon!

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  14. As an aside, I always found it strange that of the two main players in this drama, one was given a very large pay rise and the other had her contract significantly extended.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I thought that the large pay rise was given to Leslie Evans along with or as part of her contract extension. IIRC the speculation about the large pay rise was because the highest-paid person in the civil service was disclosed as jumping 2 “bands” from one year to the next and given there was only one in the highest-paid band then that person had to be Leslie Evans. All I can say is that on the evidence of Evans’ performance revealed in the Judicial Review and the Parliamentary Inquiry the Scottish taxpayer isn’t getting value for money!

      Liked by 2 people

  15. Paragraph 19 of the Harrassment for Former Ministers process. A sentence:

    “However, if AT ANY POINT it becomes apparent to the SG that criminal behaviour might have occurred the SG MAY bring the matter DIRECTLY to the attention of the Police.”

    You have these Scotgov civil servants saying how shocked they were to hear the accusations but they didn’t raise it with the Crown Office until later in 2018. August 2018 if I remember correctly. Some were aware of the details from Nov. 2017. Now it could be explained by the fact that the complainers didn’t want the police involved but if that is the case then why take it to the Crown Office many months later still against the complainers wishes. So the Scotgov did not take it to the police earlier when they could have and instead many months later passed it to the Crown Office, not the police directly, as the procedure says.

    Yet when it suited the civil servants they casually say at other times they were diligently following the agreed procedure. From what was reported in the criminal trial it was pretty clear to anyone that, if true, this was a serious criminal offence but the Scotgov did not pass any info to the Police or the Crown Office until Salmond was about to get an injuction/ judicial review and the leak to the Daily Record occurred along with the passing of the papers to the Crown Office.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. What I don’t understand is why the complainers went ahead with a court appearance given their request that the police should not be involved. And why did the complainer who accused Alec Salmond of rape when she knew she wasn`t even at the venue where the alleged incident occurred still give evidence knowing she was perjuring herself.
    What was in it for her or was she compelled.
    Great analogy Gordon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Alex, crucial evidence of communications between complainers and others which would go a long way to answering these vital questions is in the hands of COPFS who not only won’t disclose it but threaten anyone who tries to do so with prosecution and imprisonment.

      Now why is that, I wonder?

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  17. The creation of a small 10 paragraph procedure for Harrassment for former ministers seems to have involved an incredible number of very well paid senior personnel in the Scotgov to eventually deliver something that was imprecise, unlawful and unfair and only used once in three years. Even then it was not followed properly and its creators now avoid ownership.

    In addition it is currently being reviewed at great length and cost, no doubt, by an independent Lawyer. All for a procedure that Evans London bosses said they should not do ( apparently) and the only procedure for former ministers in the whole world. This tiny procedure then spawned a very expensive Judicial Review for the Scotgov and then an expensive criminal case. An ongoing smear campaign against Salmond and tension/ disagreement among the independence movement. A Ministerial code investigation and a Parliamentary Inquiry and its not finished yet either.

    What an achievement for a few paragraphs and hundreds of words that very few people have probably read. No doubt people in the Scotgov have been financially well rewarded for this unique achievement. Success deserves to be recognised.

    It might have been easier to detonate a nuclear bomb.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. More good stuff Gordon.

    There is another question to be answered. It’s not directly relevant to your current line of enquiry, and it might appear peripheral. But it might become relevant to your work at a later stage, and should a full investigation of the whole saga ever take place – or should Craig Murray get hold of the documents he’s trying to get hold of, involving the discussions between the parties to the criminal accusations – it could become very relevant indeed.

    Nine women accused Salmond of criminal misconduct. But only two complaints were filed through the SG complaints procedure. Isn’t it rather odd that not one of the other seven accusers filed a complaint under the SG procedure between December 2017 and August 2018?

    Without wishing to go rushing off pell-mell and answering my own question, one might almost suspect that the other seven accusations were fabricated as part of some kind of “conspiracy”…

    I’m sure there are other perfectly reasonable explanations, none of which I’ve been able to think of so far…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Excellent point, David, and one that I’ve not seen made before. It’s not a good idea to go into any detail on the criminal trial evidence for risk of jigsaw identification but from memory there were serving civil servants in addition to the non-civil servants and Ms A and Ms B among the criminal complainers.

      As you say, where were they from November 2017 onwards if they felt strongly enough that they ultimately raised criminal complaints?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Gordon, David, I believe the BBC stated that the court records described the nine who took part in the trial as 7 civil servants, an SNP politician and an SNP person. If you think me posting the above is a problem please remove immediately but as it was published by the BBC and the court I don’t see a problem but if you think it is best to remove please do so.

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    2. David,

      It’s something I’ve been avoiding looking at with any particular interest (because of what Gordon says – too many associations puts us at risk of even accidentally jigsaw identifying. And given that COPFS and the Scottish government keep trying to bait is into doing so, I’m stubbornly staying well away from it)…

      But; evidence given in the committee shows that there were 3 potential complaints in December 2017 – and email from Nicola Richards to Ms A, not published but referred to by Alex Cole-Hamilton, says “we have now spoken to two other people considering their position’. (Part of my evidence that they were encouraging complaints to be made, by communicating there were others and maybe even putting them in touch).

      Once I’ve read through, again, some of the JR evidence, I know I will get an idea of evidence gathering in Judith Mackinnon’s investigation, where much of it was anecdotal, general and anonymised (from Alex Salmond, so he could hardly answer the complaints if he didn’t recognise the incidents and didn’t know who the people were or when it was alleged to take place!). I suspect some of these could have gone on to form accusations in the criminal trial. And of course, there are potential accusations from within the party and outwith the civil service – I don’t think they found anyone in the general public to make an accusation,,, hm, hopefully that isn’t a speculation too far. It’s all hearsay anyway!

      So – there were two ‘official’ complaints, but JMack dug up plenty of vague inferences (Levy & McRae letters, and JR open record).

      There was a definite reluctance to make a complaint though. And why the police took two years to get such paltry results,,, And given the weak nature of the accusations, I don’t find it surprising there were 9, if they were going down the route of claiming ‘ugh, he slobbered over me at the Christmas party, it was disgusting’ as a criminal matter (though most of the false allegations weren’t that serious, of course). Hmm, maybe I could get a few people banged up? Wonder if I’d be caught out on the ones I had perpetrated though… it’s okay, I’ve no interest in trying! Most of us just don’t feel that strongly about accidental one-off events, do we?

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      1. Cubby above is correct. Of the ultimate nine accusers, seven were SG, one was a politician, and one was an SNP party worker (I don’t know about the tenth, whose charge was dropped). So there were five SG employees who did not avail themselves of the complaints procedure but made accusations in the criminal case.

        On the general point of identification, and putting aside the question of legalities, my view (which might not be very fashionable) is that when you’re dealing with a woman who is prepared to go to the police and say “This guy touched my arm though my cardigan in a pub nine years ago – or maybe it was ten years ago… I can’t exactly remember. Now I want him jailed for sexual assault!” then men have a right to know her identity so they can make sure they never go within fifty feet of her.

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      2. David sadly if you have a look at how widely sexual assault is defined in law on the Scotgov website the example you quote could be deemed to be a sexual assault and was in the Salmond trial.

        When I became aware of the specific details behind some of these sexual assault charges I was astonished so I had a look at the law and unbelievably that could be covered as a sexualt assault. It is of course not what most people would think of when the Daily Record blazes multiple sexual assault all over its front pages. Crazy laws. Crazy laws being taken advantage of for political purposes by malicious people.

        Social distancing is required not just because of the virus but as you say to avoid falling foul of malicious charges.

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      3. Cubby, it’s interesting what you say about the wide definition in law of sexual assault – I suspect this woolly wording is to give the courts and police flexibility, which can be both good and bad. But what sticks out for me is that it makes it even more remarkable that Alex Salmond was fully aquitted – with the number of charges and the loose definitions of assault, it shows just how much the jurors believed the accusations to be wholly false.

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  19. The SG’s story is that this whole saga began with 2 women coming forward entirely of their own volition to make allegations of sexual assault that had happened years earlier, supposedly inspired by the #MeToo movement. OTOH if you believe the “conspiracy to fit-up Salmond” theory then that assumes the decision to frame him came first and the allegations were concocted afterwards. Certainly that is what Alex’s defence counsel seemed to be suggesting in his cross-examination of the complainants and perhaps that’s why the SG is so desperate to keep the complainants’ electronic communications away from public scrutiny.

    I’ve tried to determine which of the Alphabet Women made the first 2 complaints (ie Ms?, not their real names) and what they were alleging, but have been unsuccessful. Does anyone know which of Ms A to K they were and the details of their allegations? Also regarding the other 10 complainants, did they come forward during the police investigation or before? It’d also be useful to know if they were discussing the allegations prior to the police investigation. (Other verbs are available) Even if you accept that the police investigation “uncovered numerous other allegations of sexual assaults” as I read someone claim recently, isn’t it amazing those allegations only come from a small circle of SG insiders? Of course if you accept the conspiracy theory that both of the original allegations were concocted, then it would have been necessary to concoct additional allegations so as to invoke the Moorov Doctrine. In that situation the complainants necessarily would have to come from the inner circle.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Stuart, if you look at Dani Garavelli’s long anti-Salmond story published after the trial, you’ll see the answer to your question about the letters allocated to Ms A and Ms B in the criminal trial (it wasn’t A and B). I’d recommend that you — and anyone else reading the Garavelli story — keep that info to yourselves for now as discussing it on a forum like this may risk allegations of jigsaw identification.

      Needless to say, Garavelli is safe from such allegations, and from prosecution for the jigsaw identification she risks elsewhere in her story, but we are not, so better safe than sorry.

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  20. What has always struck me about the development of this revised complaints procedure is the unseemly rush to get it completed and signed off, in sharp contrast to the glacial pace of most government activity. What was the rush, particularly since they were making it retrospective? After all, what did it matter whether a complaint against a former Minister was adjudicated this month or next? AIUI there was already in place a code of conduct and complaints procedure for Ministers and the Civil Service which addressed current abuses and so prevented ongoing abuse. The only substantial “revision” was to extend it to former Ministers (or maybe just one). Yet senior civil servants are working late into the night to get it finished. You’d think there was a crisis going on, like a pandemic or a natural disaster. Maybe Nicola thought that Alex’s return to Scottish politics would be a disaster …. for her.

    People here and on WOS are asking – why would Sturgeon frame her former mentor. I’d suggest that Sturgeon has no intention of pushing for independence, it’s too risky for her and she’s quite happy with the current situation. But she knows that large numbers of independence supporters are getting restive about the lack of action and would support a challenger. Alex Salmond is the obvious figure for this opposition to coalesce around. Worse, following the loss of his Westminster seat Alex shows no signs of fading away gracefully into obscurity. His recent announcement of a current affairs show on RT will keep him in the public eye and give him a platform to criticise Nicola’s government. Supposing he stands for Holyrood at a by-election? He’d be a shoo-in and then a real threat. A lot of MSPs must be unhappy with her heavy-handed rule and could support a leadership challenge. He must be stopped! Allegations of sexual assault are the best means of discrediting a male politician, even if he’s not guilty the mud still sticks. Just ask Julian Assange.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Stuartm99- ” what was the rush.”

      In 2017 both Angus Robertson and Alex Salmond lost their MP seats in the General Election. Following the nonsensical Mark Mac Donald MSP SNP accusations Sturgeon called for MacDonald to stand down in march 2018. He didn’t stand down and has been ostracised ever since. If he had resigned a vacancy would have opened up for Salmond or Robertson to join the Scottish parliament as an MSP. A sex scandal would have ruined Salmonds chances and left it open for Robertson. Robertson being Sturgeons preference. Robertson is a long term friend of Peter Murrell.

      Far fetched? – look at the NEC more recently changing the rules to prevent Cherry challenging Robertson for the Edinburgh seat.

      Angus Roberson is not an innocent bystander in this whole murky business. The # metoo stuff is just a smokescreen.

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  21. Contrary @ 10.19pm

    “I don’t suppose you’d also advise rambling incoherently during a police interrogation? There is no way I could remain silent – it’s a nervous reaction, rambling incoherently. Hm, I guess I better continue to try and not get caught.”

    Repeated choruses of “Baby Shark”??

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    1. Ugh, I know I should get that reference, but it’s totally escaping me just now wee chid, any chance you can nudge my memory on it? Give some clues?

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      1. “Baby Shark” is a kiddy song that has the unusual distinction of being even more annoying than “The wheels on the bus go round and round”

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks David – that’ll be why this strange little ditty was running through my head,,, and yes I remember it now! Awful.

        Yes great idea Wee Chid! Running interference maybe would work,,,

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  22. Only Scottish Government employees would have been able to use the internal SG process, which is now deemed unlawful, to report or make complaints against Alex Salmond. I cannot recall how many of the women were SG employees and of course bear in mind that their complaints were so trivial they might never have considered reporting them until encouraged, or as someone else said, groomed, to do so. Does anyone know how well publicised that procedure was within the SG? Some people may never have heard about it. It was probably posted on their intranet but staff therein are very busy and not everyone has time to read the intranet for a variety of reasons. The procedure very closely follows the SG fairness at work policy which has been in place since at least 2010. Does that now mean that that procedure is also unlawful, and if so what does that mean for the tens, hundreds, or maybe more SG staff who have been disciplined or lost their job because of it?

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    1. Lulu Bells

      Evans testified that she issued a document re #metoo to all staff in early Nov 2017 if I remember correctly and gave the matter a very high profile in the Scotgov/ civil service that they would take any concerns seriously and would be looking at their procedures etc. So it was flagged up to all staff before the actual procedure was completed.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I was referring to the Police’s investigation team of 22 police detectives who interviewed 700 people, many of whom were not Scottish Government employees. They even went so far as tracking down a woman who Alex had kissed in greeting at an event years before and invited her to make a complaint! She told them in no uncertain terms that Alex was a family friend of many years standing and that nothing untoward had happened. The woman’s husband wrote the same in one article I read – I think he said he witnessed the greeting and thought nothing of it.

      But that illustrates how the cops and the COPFS were scraping the bottom of the barrel in their attempt to come up with something, anything, that was stronger than the pile of tosh from the Alphabet Sisters. It was precisely because the “evidence” they had was so weak or nonexistent that the police investigation was so extensive. Yet they could come up with nothing more than the complaints from 12 women, all of them from within Nicola Sturgeon’s inner circle.

      That brings up another point. If Alex was the serial sex offender that the prosecution tried to prove he is, then he’s a very peculiar one. Most sex offenders in powerful positions target junior staff, the young junior typist rather than the middle-aged female accountant. Think Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. The junior staff are more unsure of themselves, more likely to be overawed by their boss, less sure of their rights, less likely to make a complaint and less likely to be believed. Yet we are asked to believe that Alex only gets a hard-on for middle-aged senior female staff, all of whom are close to Nicola Sturgeon.

      Liked by 1 person

    3. LB, it’s always good to get your informed take on these aspects of the scandal. I’m hoping to write about the very pertinent issues you raise here but the short answer is that it was not put on the intranet until February and even then they talked in terms about keeping it low-key because they knew it had driven a coach and horses through the Fairness at Work procedure and feared the unions would insist on the properly negotiated FAW policy for Ministers and refuse to recognise the December 20 procedure if they caught on to the shambles that had been made.

      It’s a total mess, which still persists as far as I can see.

      Stuart, I agree about the suspiciously tight circle that constitutes the Salmond complainers and made the point in reply to another commenter above that Gail Sheridan, who was on the Glasgow/London cabin crew for years, never experienced or even heard about anything creepy from Salmond — in stark contrast to some other public figures.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. …it was not put on the intranet until February and even then they talked in terms about keeping it low-key…

        Being cynical, that might explain why – despite Holyrood being a veritable hellhole of harassment, bullying, and sexual abuse according to Aamer Anwar – only the two AS complaints have ever been lodged under the complaints procedure.

        In truth, it seems from the information in the public domain that most of the senior women in the SG worked on nothing else but the complaints procedure for months on end. That being the case, it seems hard to believe that anybody in SG wasn’t aware of it.

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    4. As far as organisations go Holyrood and the SG are separate and each have their own processes and procedures. Therefore someone working for Holyrood could not use the SG procedure to raise a complaint. The 450 staff who work for the Parliament have their own People and Culture department and their own HR team. As far as I know, that has no link whatsoever to the SG People Directorate. The Parliament has its own Sexual Harassment Policy and Reporting procedures and their own Disciplinary Procedures. They can be found in their Employee Handbook on their website.

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      1. This is how the Parliament describes its role:

        ‘We are not civil servants; we provide impartial support to the Parliament and its Members and not the Scottish Government.’

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      2. So Lulu is Holyrood an independent body? Does it not report to anyone? Who oversees its work? Is it the MSPs?Just asking out of general interest as I don’t see any involvement of the Parliament in this whole persecution of Salmond business. Does it report to London?

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    5. Cubby, I am not entirely sure about that. I did a bit of digging on their website before work this morning and came up with nothing. I am not sure who the CEO reports to. Their purpose is described as:

      Our Purpose
      Representing the people of Scotland by debating issues of national importance, passing legislation and holding the Scottish Government to account.

      Which is somewhat laughable really given the current situation. If it was in any way funny and not so dreadful.

      Anyway, as they do not report to the SG then there are only 2 other options I think, Westminster or HM.

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      1. LB,

        I believe that the CEO of the Parliament reports to the Corporate Body, which is chaired by the Presiding Officer and has representation from all parties with 5 seats (I think) or more, with voting rights of each party rep based on the number of seats their party has in the Parliament.

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  23. Well, it turns out Aberdein’s evidence is not to be published by the Inquiry (Wings article today), I commented that this might be a possibility:

    “There is also another possibility – I started to get suspicious on the previous article thread – what everyone was saying about FMQs being mindnumbingly tedious, and I assume didn’t even mention once about the Scottish government not handing over evidence? Very strange – there are quite a few stock questions the opposition leaders like to throw NS’s way, and there have been a few revelations this past week.

    Now this? What is so much more revealing in Aberdein’s statement that wasn’t in Alex Salmond’s – he detailed the meetings and named witnesses. At least we know now that Aberdein HAS submitted written evidence.

    What I’m suspicious of, given Alex Salmond’s unredacted submission Stuart helpfully provided, is that perhaps there has already been action taken to form a judge led inquiry, or something more. IF legal action had started, or was about to start, that would definitely make parliamentarians back off.

    Is that too much to hope for? If we have to wait until the stupid parliamentary inquiries to finish before hearing about it, meanwhile not getting half the evidence published, I’ll be furious. Not as furious as finding out it has all been a whitewash mind you.”

    Any thoughts on the possibilities here Gordon? (Or anyone else)

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    1. There is a very obvious explanation Contrary, but it’s a kind of Catch 22. And unfortunately it has nothing to do with judge-led inquiries or other forms of legal action.

      Like

    2. Personally, I’d be wary of staking much on Aberdein’s evidence. At this point, I even wonder if the sudden focus on it is a diversionary tactic.

      It’s inconceivable to me that Sturgeon didn’t know about the complaints as soon as they were made in November 2017 so the March 2018 meetings with Aberdein would be just telling her what she knew already in my view.

      Aberdein chose to give a copy of his inquiry statement to the Daily Record’s David Clegg, author of The Vow, and the journalist to whom the Evans report was leaked in August 2018.

      I don’t find that encouraging.

      Like

  24. Can I make an appeal for everyone to keep giving generously to the s.30 crowdfunder?

    https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/pas30/

    Martin Keatings took the risk of going ahead with the action without reaching the funding target – and there is no compensation in this sort of case (haha, if only, Westminster should be made to pay for 300 years of mismanagement) – and he shouldn’t have to take the financial risk by himself. I’ve stretched to as much as I comfortably donate (and uncomfortably in the original hearing) and am very limited in doing more before the end of the month.

    If anyone hasn’t given – a small contribution will also up the number of people that are supporting this, and looks good from a popularity/political viewpoint.

    The case starts today, and last two days – the outcome should be with us in a few weeks. If you contribute to the crowdfunder you will get instructions on how to dial in. I won’t get a chance to do that either! I should have taken time off work,,, bah.

    I still think a plebiscite in May is the best solution – and it turns out the most popular solution – but this gives us the belt and braces approach and keeps the pressure up. We need to know the answer to create strategies!

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  25. This sky news report is interesting (from an andecdotal perspective); a simple request for a document (the government’s fairness at work policy from 2010) caused an absolute stooshie in the government – then they sent the internal emails of them having the stooshie to sky news instead of the document:

    https://news.sky.com/story/nicola-sturgeon-faces-more-questions-over-alex-salmond-bullying-claims-after-internal-emails-leaked-12192267

    Why, indeed, was this not just a routine request? Why on earth would the FMs office need to be involved – and how much is this cover up COSTING US?!

    Is this more deeply embedded and extensive than even we think it is? I keep getting told that it’s a small coterie within the SNP that are at fault – or words to that effect – it’s not that at all. This is institutional and deep running within government – you don’t get stacks of high-level civil servants going against their code of conduct on a whim, the behaviour must be embedded and allowed.

    Like

    1. Noted Gordon, I’m beginning to think most of the news reports are – they *usually* have some ulterior motive after all!

      And as you say above, Aberdein’s evidence isn’t huge as regards the government’s mishandling – and there is a Police Scotland written submission now published, which is rather interesting, emphasising that they advised Judith Mackinnon on several occasions that the government isn’t equipped to deal with victims, that they should refer them to support services, so the victims could make an informed decision about reporting to the police (and obviously get proper support), and any question of criminality should have been reported immediately.

      Couple that up with Gillian Russell testimony of immediately referring Ms A’s account (with her permission) to HR because she felt it was so serious, on the 22nd of Nov (2017) and we see the start of the poor handling. Even if the entirety of HR we’re totally ignorant of what they should have done, alongside Evans and Nicola Richards, who were told as well immediately afterwards (officially), J Mackinnon had an email on the 5th of December, then a physical meeting with Police Scotland on the 6th Dec, where they handed over all the information she could ever need for the victim-led approach to actually have meaning. She should have never accepted the role of investigating officer when she got this information – and should have immediately given that info to Richards and Evans.

      .., and a million other things wrong with every single decision they made – if you take it at face value and don’t assume the entire purpose was a fit up.

      5th and 6th were incredibly busy days in 2017 – Nicola Richard’s helpful timeline – you remember, the one that needed ‘testing back’ – has Richards and Mackinnon meeting Ms A on 5th Dec, I don’t remember references to a meeting with the Police, but could have forgotten, and that’s Richards’ 1:1 meeting with Evans day. On the 6th, of course, the revised policy was sent on to Evans,,, dunno why I’m telling you this, you know much more than me about those dates!!

      Like

      1. You’re bang on, Contrary. At close to midnight on 5 December we have Richards’s “recast” of the policy, the culmination of a day which just keeps getting even busier, with this new revelation of email contact with the police on top of everything else!

        Sturgeon, Evans, Richards, Mackinnon, Somers, and the rest of the Keystone Cops of the Scottish Government make Police Scotland look like accomplished professionals here, which is quite a feat!

        Like

      2. Haha, ‘no comment’ on the professional accomplishments, or otherwise, of Police Scotland! You can’t catch me out that easily.

        Like

  26. Pingback: Chasing waterfalls
  27. Gordon, love your work, haven’t you extrapolated McKinnon’s words here?

    Margaret Mitchell: So, that must have formed part of the thinking and discussions as the process was developed —and certainly when the complaints were received and the investigation took place.

    Judith Mackinnon: I think that once the facts [of the complaint] had been gathered, and the full picture [of the complaint] was known, that was the stage at which the permanent secretary, as the deciding officer, might have considered the appropriateness of referring the matter to the police.”

    Mackinnon’s evidence that referral of complaints to the police did not form part of the thinking and discussions as the process was developed, and certainly when the complaints were received and the investigation took place, is contrary to the facts.

    She didn’t actually say it wasn’t considered when the process was developed, she was answering the second part of the question regarding the timing of consideration relevant to the complaint.

    Trust you’ll understand my motivation for asking is academic. Peer review if you will.

    Like

    1. Thanks Graham, that’s much appreciated.

      My interpretation of Mackinnon’s reply is that the first point at which the appropriateness of referring the matter to the police might have been considered was when all the facts had been gathered and the full picture was known. The very earliest date that could refer to is the date when Mackinnon had completed her own report in March 2018, and more likely it refers to a still later date when Salmond had had a chance to make representations and the Permanent Secretary was completing her own report.

      Even if we take the earliest possible date of March 2018, Mackinnon’s evidence is thus contrary to the facts. The appropriateness of referring the matter to the police had been considered long before that date — BY HER, among others — BOTH as the process was being developed AND after it was developed in January 2018 as set out in the post.

      Like

      1. Thanks Gordon,

        I now agree, I think the damning part is paragraph 19; However, if at any point it becomes apparent to the SG that criminal behaviour might have occurred the SG may bring the matter directly to the attention of the Police..

        I assume the nature of the allegations hinted at criminal behaviour, in which case it’s inconceivable that she or they did not even consider passing them straight to the police. They just didn’t want to.

        I only just found your blog and your writing style is a breath of fresh air.

        Liked by 1 person

  28. I am very late to the party with my comments Gordon .

    Judith Mackinnon is as confirmed FCIPD . In order to gain this qualification , significant understanding of Employment Law is required including knowledge and understanding of other distinct legal tests that could impact on advice and decisions . To obtain this status the course of work is set at post graduate degree level .

    I am struggling to understand why JM departed from the then revised ACAS guidelines on Conducting Workplace Investigations and Sexual Harassment at work ( November 2017) and why the legal advice possibly obtained via Employment Lawyers did not include potential risk/ exposure to such a procedure. Or perhaps they did ….and JM ignored it ….

    JM certainly does not refer to involving the CIPD in relation to development of the policy . Neither does Nicola Richards albeit she does confirm she is not CIPD HR qualified (the gold standard body in terms of best practice . )

    JH position “ like other parts of the Govt. when we develop policies and procedures, we want to make sure, as we did in this case , that they reflect best practice” Evidence ? More concerning from JH “ the procedure remains extant and lawful ……so there are no fundamental concerns about the procedure “. Lord Pentland said “ the decisions were unlawful in respect that they were procedurally unfair and that they were tainted with apparent bias “ For the record the Scottish Govt. acknowledged “ collective and organisational failure….”

    On a side note Gordon and forgive me if you already know this … Employment Lawyers throughout the UK are often dual qualified , hence the emergence of HR Lawyer .

    The Pastoral care role I await with bated breath 🤔

    Best Wishes

    C

    Like

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