A POLITICAL WITCH HUNT

I did this interview with Tommy Sheridan for his podcast on the Sputnik website, in which Tommy and I attempt an overview of some main aspects of the Salmond stitch-up. I hope you’ll give it a listen.

I’m working on a post which I hope to publish later today or early tomorrow. It’s titled A Very Scottish Coup because if the evidence given to the Salmond inquiry by civil servants is true then a coup by unelected mandarins behind the backs of the democratically elected First Minister and democratically elected Government of our country is precisely what has taken place.

POSTSCRIPT: My apologies to readers coming here for the post promised — over-optimistically — above. I am working on it whenever I have a spare minute and will put it up as soon as it’s done.

62 thoughts on “A POLITICAL WITCH HUNT

  1. Well, Tommy is a bit OTT in his delivery but you present your findings very well Gordon.

    This all started as an internal SNP campaign to remove Salmond from public life. Salmond was told to give up his RT show. At the same time, it was also suggested to Salmond that certain rumours were abroad in government circles. Clearly, this was a typically unsubtle attempt to threaten Salmond to exit the stage or else.

    When Salmond told them to do one, the matter became a government investigation rather than a party ultimatum.

    As you discuss in the podcast, when the investigation looked like it would collapse, the matter was then escalated to a criminal case. Indeed, it is quite telling just how furiously the government tried to keep the judicial review live in the face of Counsel’s advice so that the start of the criminal trial might see it suspended rather than conceded.

    How very close they came to managing that but I hope they will find that this high risk strategy is going to blow up in their faces now as it demonstrates a quite breathtaking malevolence at the very centre of this.

    It is no surprise now the criminal case has also collapsed and the JR proceedings have been exposed, that the ante has been upped further to try to cover everything up. We should not be surprised that with every passing week, we hear of more and more outrageous abuses of power, whether that is taking cover behind court orders, redacting or failing to turn over documents and threats of prosecution should anyone say something that might prejudice their efforts.

    The retention of power and its abuse is the only way that those involved can stop the truth coming out. The lengths to which they will go to achieve this are going to be tested I think.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Very engaging podcast, thanks. Listened carefully to every word.

        The audacity and utter viciousness of the campaign suggests to me the involvement of the British state, possibly punishment for Salmond brushing aside the advice to step away from RT. Advice from Theresa May and Nicola Sturgeon.

        ‘Theresa May says Alex Salmond ‘risks being Russian propaganda tool’

        https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/theresa-may-says-alex-salmond-risks-being-russian-propaganda-tool-1425805

        best wishes

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    1. Excellent summary GeeK!

      And also kudos to Gordon for such an eloquent analysis live on a podcast. I think everything is now making sense!!

      PS Any truth in the rumour that Leslie Evans is married to the former Head of MI5?

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Excellent podcast Gordon and very illustrative of the salient points , I hope Tommy gets you on a few times as you deconstruct and demolish the twisted narrative that they hoped would suffice in putting these egregious actions to bed , Well said GeeK there is only one thing I would disagree with I thought Tommy was an admirable feed to allow Gordon to continue his freeflow of information , unlike others Tommy didn’t interrupt Gordon but merely reiterated his points to let him compose his thoughts , A bit like Morecambe and Wise without the laughter timing is everything

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      1. Quite.

        Our response should be

        Let you not stand upon your order of leaving, but leave at once. And: if it were done when ’tis done, then ‘t’were well it were done quickly.

        (I’ve probably mangled those)

        Liked by 1 person

  2. If all this is true and comes to pass that Sturgeon walks the plank it will be too funny for words. Effectively the SNP will have committed political self immolation . Independence will remain forever just over the horizon. 

    If it’s all true……

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    1. Independence is more likely to remain “forever just over the horizon” if Sturgeon stays. She is not the mover of independence but the stumbling block. Other independence parties are emerging.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Indeed, a political coup by unelected civil service personnel is precisely what has taken place – IF everything thus far is wrong about alleged SNPG involvement – and that could happen from only one place. If not, then we have a state within a state scenario.

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  4. An interesting development today with the evidence from the Police that SG were asking them about sexual harassment protocols and police gave them advice and then it went on to a series of hypothetical situations which they wanted to play out with the police for their response. The police didn’t really play ball with them. But the intriguing part is that this took place months before(I think it was July 17 or near then) the accusations in January. One might almost think they were trying to create a protocol and then get it completed before saying, OK Women, we’re ready for your complaints now…

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  5. Is it not standard protocol or procedure to have meetings between various “independent” Public Bodies ( Gov, civil service, COPFS, Police Scotland, and others) to be recorded, minutes taken and copies distributed to all parties present after the meeting and actions to follow up?

    It appears that everything that this SNP government has done in this instance is amateurish, unprofessional and perhaps deliberate, and the politics aside beyond comprehension in a modern professional democracy, or so we “are led to” believe?

    The Tommy Sheridan podcast with Gordon the Danger Field Mouse (or To a Mouse by Robert Burns being prosaic in all that has happened & posted at this time of year & mindfully pertinent, apologies if offence taken) was very entertaining and enlightening. The legal aspects require a deeper introspective that will require (for me any how) a repeated hearing for clarifying points of law & views sustained throughout the podcast.

    The biggest concern may be is what will happen to all those involved, namely the original accused & the accusers (albeit the 2 cases have been judicially determined, will there be more to follow?) and the vitriol that now exists on what ever side is taken; not that it should be about rigid sides or walls of silence but simply the truth. Whether the last vestiges of truth remains in Scotland and be out or perchance to dream of veritas remains the status quo under a suppressive regime of hiding facts, truth & justice?

    As an aside question to the learned legal professional: how often are court proceedings ever recorded in Scotland and can this be requested in all Scottish courts and is it not in the interests of natural justice that they should be as a matter of course and the only bar being admin, cost & inconvenience? Are matters before the ongoing Scottish Government enquiry recorded and can be used as evidence?

    I must depart before I lose my mind in a machination & connivance that is not receiving the necessary exposure & critical analysis required out with Scotland.

    Vive la liberté, vive notre pays libre et démocratique !

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    1. No offence taken, Kevin — Danger the Field Mouse is one of the nicer nicknames I’ve been given over the years!

      Solemn court proceedings — those on indictment tried before a jury — are recorded but summary proceedings — on a PF “complaint” with no jury — are not.

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      1. I would think that the absence of a court transcript would make the chances of a successful appeal from a summary judgement virtually impossible. This might have been acceptable in 1820, but in the 21st century what possible reason can there be for not videorecording the proceedings as a record?

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  6. Seems that it now suits the MSM to be reporting on concerns about what has been going on in the Nicola Sturgeon Government.

    Our enemy’ s ( Sturgeon) the MSM ( Sky News ) may not be our friend but for whatever reason reporting of Sturgeon exposes her, her husband and senior aides for what they are.

    And is Sturgeon a fit and proper person to lead the party, the country and to even remain in office, I don’t think so. The smell is now blowing everywhere, and unless this woman stands down her and her clique’s behaviour will undermine entirely Scotland and its institutions.

    https://archive.is/uKmCt

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Just listened to your interview with Tommy Sheridan. Your point that the revised procedure only applied to former Ministers but not anybody else is one that had escaped me before and I am sure others as well. Just one of many clues that foul play is at hand.

    I would appreciate some clarification on the issue of the “unstateability” of the SG’s case in the judicial review. I would have thought that if the SG’s barristers had known the full facts at the beginning they would have told the SG it was unstateable then and there and refused to present it. That they didn’t until the final hours suggests that they had only just become aware of some crucial piece of evidence. Or am I just being naive?

    I have to say as a layman that I am surprised that a barrister would agree to take on a case that (s)he knows will almost certainly lose and yet knowingly stretches out the case and maximises the plaintiff’s legal costs. (After all it’s not as if this was a murder case where anybody risked going to jail) IMHO that comes very close to vexatious litigation and skates very close to the ethical edge if not well beyond it. And no I’m not expecting an answer Gordon, I know that you are bound by the Law Society rules in what you say or write.

    Regarding the illegality of the procedure did the High Court judge conducting the judicial review actually rule on why it was illegal? I can think of a few reasons:
    1) it was retrospective
    2) Judith MacKinnon acted as both advocate/adviser for the complainants and the supposedly unbiased Investigator for the SG
    3) JM’s Investigation report found the allegations against Salmond as proven without giving him the opportunity or even enough information to defend the allegations, which breaks the rules of natural justice.

    I read somewhere (maybe on Wings) that by collapsing the case the SG limited the matters that the Judge could address in his judgement, so maybe he didn’t give the reason.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Stuart, we’ve only been given limited access to the legal advice of counsel as the case developed from August 2018 to January 2019, but I’d be very surprised if what happened wasn’t something close to what I inferred from the evidence on the podcast.

      The Scottish Government witnesses themselves have put forward one potentially valid reason for carrying on, namely the public interest in having the certainty of an authoritative court decision on the many grounds of challenge raised in Salmond’s pleadings, including some of the ones you mention, as well as breach of his Article 6 and 8 rights and the procedure being ultra vires of the Government’s powers.

      As counsel, you’re not in bad faith with the court if you give the client honest advice that you’re likely to lose on grounds A to F but there are at least arguable answers to those grounds, meanwhile your answers to grounds G and H do have some merit, and it might be useful to get a ruling from the court on all these grounds, plus you have a technical time bar argument and maybe there are some faults in their pleadings etc etc.

      Where you cross the Rubicon as an officer of court is when you get to the point which was obviously reached in December 2018 where your client has misled you about the evidence, and failed to disclose evidence to you, causing you in turn to have given incorrect or incomplete information to the court. That’s when the jig was up for the Scottish Government, and they were hopping mad about it with the cavalry just days away in the form of charges against Salmond, courtesy of their pals at COPFS.

      The point about limiting what you admit to by conceding is that in any court action you have to state the remedy you want at the outset and if the other side offers to give you that remedy in full, you can’t insist on proceeding because there are ten other grounds in addition to the one that’s been conceded on which you should get that remedy. You might remember in the hacking cases that Sienna Miller wanted her day in court but her remedy was damages and when NGN said they would pay the damages she had asked for in full plus all her costs the judge said she had to take it and couldn’t go on for this exact reason. Civil court cases aren’t public inquiries. If the other side offer you everything you asked for, you have to take it and be done.

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      1. Gordon, thank you for your explanation of the legal position.

        This piece from the Guardian caught my eye:
        https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2021/jan/22/scottish-parliament-orders-prosecutors-to-release-salmond-leak-evidence

        “Documents released to the committee disclose the government’s external counsel threatened to quit after senior civil servants suggested they would not admit defeat in the case.”

        The writer suggests that what the civil servants were trying to do was spin the case out using spurious grounds, obviously in the hope that the police would charge Alex and the JI would be halted pending judgement in the criminal case, and that the attempt to prolong the case was what stuck in the QCs’ craw. I don’t know if this is supported by the limited evidence that’s in the public domain but it’s plausible.

        The very next sentence in the article is:
        “The government was later ordered to repay £516,000 worth of legal fees to Salmond, in addition to its own legal costs of some £60,000.”

        If Alex spent half a million, then it’s utter rubbish that it cost SG only 60K. Presumably the 60K only covers the QC’s fees and all the legwork for the SG’s case (soliciting?) was done by Crown Office lawyers on the SG payroll, who could presumably have more usefully spent their time on prosecutions of actual criminals. Add in the time of the civil servants who were making depositions and providing documentation, testifying to the JI etc this farce has got to have cost the SG well in excess of a million Pounds. But hey, it’s only taxpayers’ money after all.

        Otherwise I thought that while the article didn’t contain any factual errors it definitely had an anti-Salmond spin. Readers are told “Salmond won a judicial review ordering the government to quash the findings of its internal inquiry. However, he was then arrested and charged with 14 offences, chiefly involving alleged sexual assaults and attempted rapes. In March 2020, Salmond was acquitted of all charges, following a two-week jury trial.” No mention that the JI found the internal Inquiry was illegal and biased. The mention of the criminal charges is another blatant attempt to sway the reader against Alex. We are then told “Salmond too has been accused by committee members of stalling. After refusing two successive requests to give evidence, citing health and legal concerns, the committee told him on Friday he must appear by 5 February.” No mention that Alex is eager to testify if the obstacles to giving a true and complete testimony are addressed. No mention of the Crown Office’s threats of prosecution if he tells the whole truth about the documents the CO is hiding. Nor that the Inquiry is demanding Alex, who is in a high-rise group because of his age and asthma, travel from Aberdeen to Edinburgh to give evidence in person in the middle of a pandemic while SG witnesses resident in Edinburgh and 20 years younger have been allowed to testify by video link. Bah, humbug!

        Another thing that strikes me about the players in this conspiracy is how amateurish and complacent they were. They obviously thought they were untouchable and would never be called to account for their actions. The first rule of a conspiracy is never put anything down on paper, and in the digital age that includes emails, phone texts and social media messages. Anything that can later be retrieved and used to hang you. Yet here they are gaily texting and e-mailing away and colluding together on a WhatsApp group. If stupidity were a crime they’d all be in pokey already. And these are senior civil servants, supposedly the cream of the crop! God help Scotland in that case.

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      2. Ms Evans has repeatedly said that the JR case became unstateable when evidence came to light of prior contact. Now, she must has been well aware of the prior contact. So it sounds as though she’s saying that the case became unstateable when it was no longer possible to conceal that prior contact. Which doesn’t fit with a duty of candour.

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  8. Fabulous podcast Gordon and a great way to present the issues in summary. Hope you do get more in – it could do with a weekly series there is so much to consider. That’s the thing I keep thinking about – how to relay the insidious nature of the whole thing for digestion by the general public – you can look at different parts from different angles, but it is the whole put together that shows that there was no other purpose in this whole affair than to fit up Mr Salmond.

    I still need to get all the investigation parts sorted in my own time-oriented head, the dates for things are a bit looser on this phase though. I will note that Leslie Evans sent her decision report to Alex Salmond on the 21st Aug 2018, the same day that the complaints were referred to Police Scotland by the Crown office.

    I have it that the first iteration of the procedure, submitted on 7th of Nov 2017 internally by James Hynd, was ONLY referring to former ministers. On that same day, Private Secretary 1 (to Leslie Evans) sent out an email of notes – with a very thorough examination of consideration of what to do re former ministers… IF this was a brand new invented thing by Hynd, the team seemed to be very quick off the mark in picking it up and thinking about all the issues – including “issue for FM for ministers to be investigated by staff – would need to ask the FM,,,” (doc ref: ph1 FN10/ZZ005 p10 on).

    Civil servants complaining about current ministers was already covered in the Fairness at Work policy – the decision to extract that and add it to this bizarre stand-alone one happened between then and 17th Nov – why not do it the other way round if this was such a reasonable thing to invent.

    Sorry, that might not make sense, got to go earn a crust and all that so a bit rushed.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. No, probably not, I’m just being pedantic 🙂 And I’ll probably try and wrestle it into some reasoning along the way.

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  9. Gordon, sorry not listened to your podcast but will do do.

    Can I ask a question about para 19 of the now infamous former Minister procedure. I know that there was talk by the Scotgov about changing it re referring to police with or without complainants agreement as per your previous article:

    But is the version signed off by Sturgeon in Dec 17 the same version that you linked to previously below the line on one or your articles – namely listed on the Scotgov website. In other words has the original procedure for former ministers ever been changed since its launch.

    I held the view that the Scotgov have never changed it since sign off – but are they lying. Current Wings article gives me the impression there was a change – formally or sneakily.

    There have been plenty versions leading up to sign off in Dec 17 and also discussions about possible changes in the weeks after then but was their a revised procedure signed off?

    Hope the above is clear.

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    1. Cubby, you give me a welcome opportunity to clarify this point about paragraph 19.

      The Wings article you refer to — https://wingsoverscotland.com/chasing-waterfalls/#more-123740 — which is excellent as usual and makes a particularly vital point about the new evidence from the police and what it tells us about the targeting of this policy exclusively on Alex Salmond, comes at paragraph 19 from a slightly different angle than my own post did.

      I made clear, I hope, that the “extra sentence” proposed in January 2018 to cover the Scottish Government’s then very clear interpretation of the EXISTING paragraph 19 was just that — an OPTIONAL EXTRA which said in terms what the existing wording was already meant to convey, namely that the SG could not refer a complaint directly to the police without express consent from the complainer.

      That extra sentence was NOT in fact added to the paragraph which was then published in August 2018 in its 20 December 2017 form, and I gave the likely reason for why the change was not made.

      Nonetheless, it’s clear that the Scottish Government INTERPRETATION of the paragraph, even in its unamended form, was the one which the “extra sentence” expressed, an interpretation that most likely represented the view of the unions and indisputably represented the view of the Scottish Government as of 9 January 2018.

      That, I think, is the point Wings is making.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Many thanks Gordon. I posted a reply earlier but it seems to have had technical problems so apologises if two replies eventually appear.

    I did understand your previous article that it was only their interpretation/policy and they considered changing the actual formal signed off procedure but didn’t . They did of course change their interpretation/policy later in 2018 when it came to the decision to pass the matter to the Crown Office.

    This matter does also demonstrates the rushed nature of the creation of the procedure as does para 10. When a procedure needs multiple interpretations to be agreed outside of the actual procedure it highlights how poorly it has been worded. It could also point to people involved in its creation having different agendas. One agenda to create a generic appropriate procedure the other to create a procedure to get Salmond.

    So in summary there has only ever been one signed off formal procedure and that was signed off by Sturgeon in Dec 17.

    I just thought that the Wings article did not make it crystal clear that was the case. They normally are crystal clear mind you. I wouldn’t want Mr Campbell on my case😃😃😃

    The police submission tells me:

    1. The Scotgov did not follow the police advice that they did not have the skills to investigate the complaints, and

    2. The police also advised the complainants should be referred to appropriate professional bodies, (did Rape Crisis Scotland not exist then) and the Scotgov chose not to do so.

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  11. A new letter from the Clerk of the Scot parliament instructing the Crown Office to release documents to the Inquiry has been posted on the Inquiry Website. Docs to be made available by 29th Jan.

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    1. If docs are made available I expect to see more redactions.

      Not sure how this affects Salmonds ability to testify the whole truth?

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  12. I’m now getting worried about the non-appearance of the post prefigured in the above post. I hope there’s no sinister reason!

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  13. Further letter from Salmonds solicitors to Fabiani and reply by Fabiani in correspondence section of Inquiry website.

    Salmonds solicitors ask for explanation of legal reasons behind submissions not being published and others being redacted. No reply on this point provided by Fabiani in her reply but she insists Salmond attends in early Feb or not at all.

    What a mess. The Scotgov have done a great job in dragging out this Inquiry for years.

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  14. A lesson of history is that autocrats in domestic trouble try to unite the country behind then by finding a common enemy. At the moment, that common enemy is COVID-19, but that’s not going to last. So what’s the new enemy? An independence campaign would unite many. And loosing such a campaign would provide a graceful exit.

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  15. What has to happen for Sturgeon, Evans etc to be criminally charged?

    And what has to happen for the complainers to be charged with perjury?

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    1. I think, for the first, a judge led inquiry to determine the level of corruption – I’m not sure if criminality would be found – then there would have to be specific charges & prosecuted (unlikely just now unless the Lord Advocate etc were suspended because they are in charge of prosecutions).

      For the second, perjury, I’m not sure – it might be that the court itself can make the charge, but I suspect it will again be COPFS that has to bring the case forward, see above problem with prosecutions (though, it might be that the court itself can commission the crown office to investigate). It is possible that the same judge-led inquiry would find possible perjury in the accusers, and it’s possible that inquiry could force a prosecution or two.

      I think there has to be a judge-led inquiry in any event for all of this. And then we just hope it doesn’t turn into something dire like the Chilcott report – putting a very limited timescale on it might work.

      Another assumption is that it would be Parliament that would commission such an inquiry – so should easily happen because the SNP doesn’t have a majority (and, in fact, it is the SNP MSP Alex Neil that’s strongly advocating for one!) (he’d better pull the finger out and put it to parliament soon).

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      1. Contrary, I agree that a judge-led inquiry is the only hope of forcing COPFS to act on this somewhere down the line. There is ZERO chance of COPFS doing anything without such external pressure.

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  16. I posted some of this on Iain Lawson’s blog (- it’s a good article btw, and given the Wings article saying the SNP authorities have shut down comments on their assembly, I think everyone still harbouring feelings of trust in the SNP leadership are firmly on cloud cuckoo land.):

    “‘,,, I’m looking at things based on exact dates – and I wanted, merely for context, not in relation to the harassment procedure in itself, an exact date of when McCann from SNP HQ sent the text saying that he’d sit on complaints and hoped he wouldn’t need to deploy them. I have it that text exchanges took place ‘late 2017’ – was the exact date of his message ever published anywhere? I’d be very interested to know.

    Obviously this has absolutely nothing to do with government handling of harassment complaints, because civil servants in government offices can’t have a political affiliation and would not have been involved in making complaints to a political party’s HQ, otherwise they’d be breaching their employment contract I’d assume. So, it’s entirely a side issue, of what was going on at the time around the #MeToo stuff, what other institutions were doing in response – for instance, it was interesting to note that the Scottish Parliament set up a hotline for people to use very quickly (6th Nov 2017), which sounds like a reasonable response.

    As more evidence comes in, you keep needing to revisit other aspects of the Harassment of Alex Salmond, but I’m busy trying to organise the Handling phase as the moment (no time to get distracted searching for other stuff,,, hmm, I’m probably posting this bit on the wrong blog,,,).

    Anyway! Any idea of that date for the McCann text message?”

    I hoping to write something about the the initiation of The Procedure, as an interlude only: the complaints handling stuff is complex and needs organised and there is a shed load to do on it, but I’ll give you some info to start off (and maybe Gordon can check I’ve understood definitions correctly?):

    Differences between mediation and arbitration:

    Mediation is a method of resolving complaints where the complainant and the defendant meet along with a nominated (and qualified) mediator. Alex Salmond suggested this for the complaints of MsA and MsB on 23rd of April 2018, directly by phone to the FM and via Levy & McRae to Leslie Evans. Other complaints couldn’t be mediated because they had no specific complainant and no dates or places attributed to them – fully disputed because they were unanswerable.

    Arbitration was suggested by Levy & McRae as a way of resolving the dispute with Leslie Evans surrounding the legality and competence of the procedure. That is, it had nothing to do with the complaints themselves and in no way would have examined the merits of the complaints. LE repeatedly claimed the Procedure was lawful and fair, and repeatedly rejected arbitration, on varying grounds: Including claiming that an external decision maker was not appropriate (as in: her being the decision maker was appropriate,,, ignoring the fact this wasn’t about the complaints, but the process), and kept alluding to the complaints when they were not relevant.

    Arbitration was first suggested, in detail, by Levy & McRae on the 26th June 2018 when they realised the Permanent Secretary was not a rational person. And was repeatedly offered, where, if the findings showed the procedure to be lawful, Alex Salmond would willingly engage in the process (many issues around confidentiality, the quasi-legal nature, the way the procedure was being enacted, etc etc. Whole host of stuff on no information being given to Alex Salmond, and the role of Judith Mackinnon, as IO, acting as advocate etc to both complainers and defendant – conflict of interest). This was before the JR found out Judith Mackinnon had breached the procedure by being in contact with the complainants.

    By 9th of July, Levy & McRae must have realised LE was very far from rational, and suggested the Scottish Government seek out solicitors for the Court of Session.

    The ‘legal advice’ that LE strictly adhered to throughout must have been saying some quite bizarre things – given the choice of test the lawfulness quietly in-house, or at great expense in court, they chose the latter – and if they were confident the process was lawful and fair: (a) why didn’t Leslie Evans manage to allay the concerns in the very numerous communications (that were made in her name, because she claimed it wisnae her in most)?, and (b) there would have been no fear or arbitration.

    Lots of detail still to go before it gets put in context!

    Gordon – hope you are not getting bogged down in detail or imagining the hopelessness of the situation?! It’s about keeping up the pressure as far as I’m concerned, so dribbles and snippets of interest are good – I know that’s nearly impossible too ,,, as I’ve demonstrated just there, and it doesn’t quite constitute a comprehensive theme – I always eagerly await whichever new angle you approach it from,,,

    Well, I’ve just made the excuses for you there, hm. Throw me scraps!

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    1. Contrary, you’re right about the differences between arbitration and mediation. I haven’t checked the various dates you give for how the L & M proposals for each played out, but I’m sure you’ve been careful and they look right.

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    2. Thanks Gordon, I’ve trawled through the L&M letters mostly to see what information they give about Leslie Evans’ letters to them, before looking at the government evidence in context. I noted that Leslie Evans is claiming to not have written or sent most of the letters herself; it’ll be interesting to find who was really writing her missives then!

      She is also back to insisting that she was not involved in the development of the procedure at all ,,, while getting weekly or sometimes daily updates, giving decisions and agreeing to parts, discussing different aspects – at weekends even – as well as with the FM, then signing off on it. Have you got any clues to which bit of the development she wasn’t involved with? Perhaps she’s mistaking ‘involved’ to mean actually writing the thing? In her position and on her salary, she certainly shouldn’t be quite that ignorant.

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  17. So why have the Inquiry Committee never asked for a written submission or attendance at a Committee hearing from:

    Duncan Hamilton QC, or

    Sue Ruddick, Chief Operating Officer, SNP

    Both have not uttered a public word on this matter to my knowledge.

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  18. I’ve just had a thought (contrary to popular opinion, this happens fairly often, but this one results in a question,,,):

    The Committee inquiry that is investigating the Scottish Government handling of Harassment Complaints against Alex Salmond has a ‘Ministerial Code’ phase,,, but,

    There is another inquiry into breaches of the Ministerial Code by the FM, so surely they shouldn’t be looking at that?

    Should they not be investigating the way in which the Ministerial Code was altered to incorporate this new 2017 procedure – because it WAS altered, and shouldn’t they be looking at the consequences of those changes, how this new civil service procedure changed the power dynamics and relationships within government, the FM and cabinet must have agreed to all the changes made, and know why they were made – James Hynd was working on the changes, but I don’t know when they were complete or what they are, or if there were or are issues. What changes were needed? Did they redefine the FM’s role, and did it alter her Ministerial responsibility towards civil servants?

    Have they addressed this and I didn’t notice?

    Remember, the FM is responsible for EVERYTHING in government, including the procedures and behaviour of civil servants, as well as for cabinet including the behaviour of the Lord Advocate.

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    1. Contrary, my understanding is that the James Hamilton QC Inquiry is as per the remit provided by Swinney. The Sexual Harrassment Inquiry can look at any aspect of the Ministerial code as part of its investigations but it certainly does not seem an area they have focussed on as yet.

      That is why Salmond sent a copy of his submission to James Hamilton to the Inquiry Committee as well. It was relevant to both Inquiries.

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    2. Thanks Cubby – yeah, they are meant to have looked at the Ministerial Code phase I think,,, but it just dawned on me, there is no clarity on the overlap of remit between the two inquiries, and it’s all a bit fuzzy about what they want to get out of it.

      We’ve had to suffer detail on all the civil service policies and procedures, Fairness at Work etc, even what the unions think, but we’ve not had anything much on the ministerial code itself – what was changed, what was tweaked. And what it means.

      I know the breach is the biggest scandal, but like Gordon highlighted before: there were changes being made running in parallel with the Procedure change – references to ‘letters’ being revised (and James Hynd separately commissioned to do so), that was quietly dropped – this was part of Nicola Sturgeon’s responsibility to send out a final letter to the former minister I think – surely that’s what the Harassment Committee should be focusing on? That’s a significant change, and decision to make, and we could do with some examination of it – it indicates that the procedure was not intended to be used except in one circumstance.

      I might have just missed it,,, those murky happenings around the 5th of Dec 2017 seem to be very significant – and examination of the ministerial code would have given the committee a chance to ask pointed questions on them.

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    3. Okay, I see that the committee’s remit – I should have just looked eh – is the Ministerial Code and the matters that led to the FM’s self referral. (Not much evidence info there, have to say)

      The first part should be how it was the FM managed to recuse herself of most of her ministerial responsibility during the drafting of the procedure and from any involvement of the investigation – it seems mad that the FM wouldn’t be involved or ‘informed’.

      If say, we had Kezia Dugdale as FM and Labour as government – just imagine, for a minute – carrying out the same revision of policies, and they saw a chance to take out a political opponent with a retrospective procedure – can you imagine that she’d recuse herself?! They wouldn’t even think about it. So, the unique set of circumstances here show that the only reason NS recused herself – from a permanent procedure remember, this lasts through to future administrations (in theory) – could have been because she knew it was to be used against someone in her own party (I.e. Alex Salmond).

      There are loads of emails referring to ‘tweaked code’ – I thought that was to do with the ministerial code – and it would be reasonable for the committee to ask for detail on what these changes were, and get James Hynd back in to answer.

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    4. Contrary, the changes to the SG Ministerial Code are actually minimal — the insertion of a specific reference to harassment at the very beginning of the paragraph on Ministerial conduct and a couple of very minor changes elsewhere. The Westminster Code is the same.

      The huge difference is that the SG has bound itself to the delegation of the FM’s wide powers and duties under the Code, with things like the FAW policy and the unlawful Harassment policy whereas Westminster has stayed with the traditional and sensible policy of leaving everything to the Prime Minister on a case-by case basis, with his wide discretion under the Code unfettered by any subsidiary written down policies.

      The latest example of this difference playing out is the Pritti Patel case where Boris did the usual thing of referring it to the Cabinet Secretary for investigation but then took the heat for disregarding the Cabinet Secretary’s findings completely and deciding that, in his own words, “we need to stand by the Prittster.”

      It’s disgraceful of course that she got away with the most obvious bullying but I can’t help contrasting his procedural savvy and ultimate bottle to take the heat of standing by his woman to the cowardly and disloyal behaviour of our own First Minister in a case that never even had to be taken up at all.

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      1. Ah okay – I remembered why I hadn’t got round to looking at the changes in the ministerial code when I tried the links given in the evidence – this ancient iPad won’t accept one of the ScotGov’s websites & I kept forgetting to check them out on the big computer. It would have been fun if the committee asked about the ‘tweaked codes’ at length though. I mean they go on about so many fairly mundane things,,, that has turned out a little bit hilarious in the case of the ‘confidential Sounding board’ (Leslie Evans didn’t really even know the name of the role even) because Nicola Richards and Evans both went on at some length about how it was no longer in existence.

        You are right about the the cowardly behaviour of Nicola Sturgeon – she has exhibited total political weakness in this. She’s a good actor and it would have been far more convincing if she had left what her role had been in the procedure – that’s a massive mistake taking it out – then acted all shocked and horrified, but declared she was determined to see it through because she’s that zero-tolerance sort of gal. Unless it’s one of her pals, of course.

        By pretending it has nothing to do with her – actually writing down, in advance, that it has nothing to do with her, was pathetic and, well, makes it look like a conspiracy. By excluding herself from the procedure, it means she knew well in advance what its planned use was.

        I was struck by one thing Levy & McRae said about the procedure – that it has a quasi-judicial function, wich seems true. The last Leslie Evans testimony confirms that she was well out of her depth – having to look up legislation etc, it was all new for her she said,,, this handling phase is going to be a stonker – everything about it says, this should never have been produced as a work place procedure, they didn’t seek the correct advice, they (none of them in their little clique) were equipped to handle any part of it, there never should have been an investigation in-house, they hadn’t defined the roles clearly, they should never have been dealing with complaints of this nature at all, or been engaging with alleged victims – can you imagine if the allegations and trauma were real? They’d have caused untold damage, probably worse than the original offence!

        Haha, Leslie Evans kept telling us that the 2020 people’s survey results were good and had less people making complaints – I just kept thinking, yes, that’s because they’re too scared to!

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      2. Even worse than staff now being too scared to make complaints, Contrary, is how DO they make complaints, at least as far as current Ministers are concerned? Prior to 20 December 2017, there was a clear procedure in place, properly negotiated with the unions and situated in the FAW policy agreed during the time of Alex Salmond. Now there is still that procedure, but it says something different from the December 2017 procedure which, oh yes, is a completely unlawful procedure which the SG says is not unlawful but was just applied unlawfully against a former Minister…

        What an utter mess. And what happened to all the panic of late 2017 when a procedure was needed immediately for all the MeToo complaints that would be coming against current Ministers? If a single one has come forward since then, there has been no coherent procedure in place to process it. That’s just one more reason why these people are such utter hypocrites with their crocodile tears for harassment victims.

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      3. Oh. Very good point Gordon, I wasn’t thinking about that – they used the current ministers procedure to pad out ‘The Procedure’, and they won’t just bin it now, so it’s in limbo. Yes, they’ve done great harm. They are all virtue-signalling hypocrites, there is no doubt,

        The frequency with which all the conspirators quote the Laura Dunlop review when asked about what might be changed in The Procedure – that review is their get-out clause isn’t it? Laura Dunlop will say it isn’t fit for purpose, and then they can quietly (so they think) scrap it (with excuses about para 10 no doubt).

        It is remarkable – and I think the committee themselves are shocked (well, those that care are) – that a procedure that has been deemed unlawful; by a court, by a judge, in a judicial review, has remained completely unchanged and still active to this day. Three years later – it took them a month to draft it, and they tell us that wasn’t fast, but can’t make a few tweaks in three years? Not credible. (Yes, I *know* it needs more than a few tweaks! Or rather, it needs scrapped).

        Does the Parliament have any authority to have this Procedure scrapped, and a proper policy put back in place? I don’t think so, I think it needs to be cabinet,,, I guess we have to wait til the committee finishes their report to find out – but you are right Gordon, they are doing everyone a disservice, and doing the exact opposite of what they claim is their desire.

        I’m hoping to start deconstructing all of Leslie Evans’ claims – her repeated ones anyway,,, although she came out with a few crackers in her last sesh, like ‘I did not put the procedure in place’ (it was a SG procedure, and she followed it to the letter) and that Alex Salmond was given every opportunity to engage in the process and given all the information (I’m paraphrasing, I’ll have to look back to get quotes).

        She also claims she was acting solely on the behalf of ministers which she should be, but is an interesting one when she was the sole decision maker in this Procedure,,,

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  19. Gordon,

    I’ve posted a similar comment on Craig’s website. Having listened to podcasts (including Barrhead Boy with Mark Hirst), and read the various articles Wings, Craig Murray, and Iain Macwhirter’s article in the Herald, could a case for Contempt of Court be brought against Lord Advocate?

    It would appear from what you all write that he has (a) infringed the integrity of the judicial system, (b) undermined the authority of the courts, and (c) frustrated the right to a fair trial (Alex Salmond, Mark Hirst and Craig Murray), in contravention of the Contempt of Court Act.

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  20. Gordon, did you see this article on the Scottish Legal News website?
    Alistair Bonnington: Salmond inquiry reflects poorly on Scotland’s democratic traditions
    https://www.scottishlegal.com/article/alistair-bonnington-salmond-inquiry-reflects-poorly-on-scotland-s-democratic-traditions

    “there is strong suspicion that this Committee was given the job precisely because it would have insufficient expertise or powers to investigate adequately”

    Are any committee members lawyers or otherwise have experience in examining evidence and questioning witnesses? How about support staff to sort through the haystack of irrelevant paperwork the SG has deluged them with to find the nuggets of actual information? Also I hadn’t realised that the Committee only held hearings one afternoon a week – real sense of urgency there – who decided that?

    Hopefully this article indicates a stirring in Scotland’s legal community about the shenanigans in the political trials and SG lawlessness.

    Thanks to Wings commenter Strathy for the heads-up.

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    1. Stuartm99,

      Gordon is of course best placed to answer your questions, but I will say that with the more I read and find out about on this – then, no, the committee is not qualified, and were not given a wide enough remit or powers to carry out the inquiry. I agree now that it HAS to have a judge led inquiry looking into it, and it should also look at the actions of COPFS.

      The Scottish Government seems to think it can get away with a lot by making the excuses of many pieces of evidence being ‘outside the remit’ of whatever inquiry – just this morning we hear Jacki Baillie has asked COPFS if Peter Murrell has committed perjury by saying he had no other messages relevant to the committee. Interesting move. Nicola Sturgeon says there are none relevant to the committee (and that by the way there is no conspiracy – that one is sounding very weak even in news reports now,,,). Of course, the technicality here is ‘relevant to the committee’ – who decides what is relevant or not, and how can the committee judge when they don’t get to see it?

      What the committee CAN do is say that there is enough evidence to say there have been serious breaches in codes of conduct, and serious questions of legality, and advise strongly that parliament commissions a judge led inquiry. The judge can determine the legality, or otherwise, of any conduct.

      I’d like to see some evidence that it ISN’T a conspiracy – all we hear are words with no backing or reasoning saying it isn’t. If you try and look at the evidence from point of view that there wasn’t – none of the actions or behaviour of those involved make any sense. I’m very sure there must be several judges eagerly waiting right now for the chance to rip their weak defences to shreds.

      Anyway – the plan must have been to create lots of seperate inquiries with very narrow remits and hope that the real evidence falls through the gaps. Let’s see if it works,,,

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  21. After reading Gordon’s reference to complaints, summary proceedings and Sheriffs I thought that I should research what these terms all mean in Scotland’s legal system. (Australian legal systems were originally based on English law though they’ve developed in their own directions since). I was astonished to discover that a Justice of the Peace with no legal training whatsoever can bang you up for 60 days! I understand the same is true in England. Struth!! This is a feudal legacy of the days when the landed gentry lorded it over the unwashed peasantry. Have you abolished the droit de seigneur yet?

    What does it take to be a JP anyhow? Commonsense would tell you that anybody with judicial powers should have a good knowledge of the law. Here in Oz JPs are licenced to witness documents and that’s about it, and for at least the last 100 years summary proceedings have been heard by stipendiary magistrates who are required to actually be barristers or solicitors.

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    1. I admit to only recently finding out how England conducts lower court proceedings too – and I’m as shocked as you, sounds like anyone that fancies it can be a magistrate, a legacy of the old feudal system I reckon too – from the days of the assizes and travelling judges. And they’ve now cut legal aid to near zero in England, so you are unlikely to be getting any kind of support or advice as the magistrate summarily fines and jails you on a whim. It’s pretty dire.

      We are all under ‘adversarial’ justice systems I believe, and I’d like to look at how some other countries do it that are meant to be less so, to see if any parts might be preferable – and to investigate if our legal systems can be updated in stages so there are no big shocks etc. When I get a chance – and with Gordon’s guidance I hope, because our legal systems are,,, unknowable. (My legal knowledge comes from the historic Shardlake novels 🙂 but it means I do know, kind of, what the Inns are – and they are still an entrenched part of the system, shockingly, as much as they were in Henry the Eighth’s time)

      We can be safe in the knowledge that the US’s justice systems are far worse from all of ours, though – some states seem to use theirs as an alternative slave trade! And, of course, many still have the death penalty. I’ve forgotten the name of the group, and website, but there is a massive campaign in America to re-investigate cases using DNA testing on any evidence still existing – they’ve freed hundreds of people from prison, from life sentences, people that have been wrongfully imprisoned for decades. It only works where there is still physical evidence available, but it’s still really good work.

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  22. I know of it, it’s called the Innocence Project. From their website:
    “The Innocence Project represents clients seeking post-conviction DNA testing to prove their innocence. We also consult on a number of cases on appeal in which the defendant is represented by primary counsel and we provide information and background on DNA testing litigation. To date, 375 people in the United States have been exonerated by DNA testing, including 21 who served time on death row.”

    I seem to remember it all started when a law professor and his students set about investigating death row cases and even before DNA evidence was available were able to prove that a number of convicted persons could not possibly have committed the murders. You’d think that this clear evidence of wrongful conviction should make death penalty supporters stop and think – how many innocent people have been wrongly executed?

    Of course DNA has been the real game changer, overturning numerous convictions and not just in the USA. I think we need to take a hard look at why these miscarriages of justice were allowed to happen and what needs to be done to prevent them in future.

    There are several aspects of the US legal system that disturb me:

    The first is that the Prosecutor’s job has traditionally been a pathway to a political career both through the publicity from a sensational trial and by claiming “my XXX convictions and YY death penalties show I’m tough on crime”. Guilt or innocence frequently seems irrelevant.

    Secondly the grand jury system is a Prosecutor’s plaything: the proceedings are held in camera with the you not having a right to be represented or even necessarily knowing it’s even happening. A defence lawyers’ saying is that “the DA can get the grand jury to indict a ham sandwich”. It originally derived from English law but because of its fundamental unfairness it has been abolished in every other common law country.

    Thirdly, in many States judges are elected and have to stand for re-election every few years. The accusation that the incumbent is “soft on crime” (ie found too many people innocent) is fatal to their re-election. The effect on conviction rates and sentencing should be obvious.

    Fourthly, the media are allowed to try you and convict you before and during your courtroom trial hiding behind their First Amendment rights to free speech. Police and prosecutors use this by tipping off the media to be present at the arrest and get pictures of you in handcuffs being placed in the paddy wagon. Another favourite is the “perp walk” where they walk the accused shackled and in prison clothing past the cameras. This has to inevitably influence the public perception of guilt and makes a mockery of innocent until proven guilty IMHO.

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  23. Leslie Evans has made many claims, repeated ones, throughout her many – I think that’s the 5th now – testimonies to the Harassment Committee investigating the mishandling of complaints against Alex Salmond.

    One of these claims is that she has zero tolerance for sexual harassment, and Nicola Sturgeon has said herself often, publicly, that she does too. I agree with this sentiment – there is never ever any excuse for harassment of any kind, and sexual harassment in particular, in the workplace. Someone using their position, authority or power to force someone else to behave in a certain way, or worse to force person physical contact on them – it’s the intimacy of sexual harassment that makes it particularly insidious – is wrong in every sense – legally and morally, and also creates a horrible, unproductive, working environment.

    Unfortunately, as we have found out, what Nicola Sturgeon says rarely bears any relationship to what she does. Can we assume the same of Leslie Evans, and is this so in this case?

    I’m looking back at WHY the procedure for former ministers – a workplace procedure, to “create a safe working environment, free from harassment” as Leslie Evans says – was created in the first place. Was it a reasonable response to what she says the reasons were – all policies were being reviewed and updated because of recent (in 2017) scandals in Westminster, then the former ministers procedure added because of the hashtag-MeToo campaign.

    Nicola Sturgeon had written a letter to Westminster earlier in 2017 – the same stilted wording of the official commissioning letter of the 22nd of Nov – to say that all these scandals were no good & sexual harassment needs stamped out. Leslie Evans appoints a director to lead a team of HR specialists in spring of 2017 to investigate and report on the culture within the government’s civil service. On the 31st of Nov 2017 the cabinet – Nicola Sturgeon because “the responsibility for developing employment policies and procedures for staff is delegated to the FM of Scotland” – commissioned a review of all government staff policies.

    That looks good, looks like they were determined and keen to stamp out any harassment.

    Now let’s look at, in what way, does a policy and procedure for looking into harassment of former minister – or rather THEIR procedure as drafted and still exactly the same to this day – actually enhance the aim of stamping out harassment. Well, first of all, the person complained about by definition is no longer in the workplace, so as a ‘workplace’ procedure it seems a bit extreme. But ignoring that, they say it was in response to the hashtag-MeToo movement that was sweeping throughout the world in October 2017.

    Let’s look at a couple of other responses to this movement and how institutions dealt with concerns of historic complaints:

    The Scottish Parliament (not so far away from the government you’d think,,,), on the 6th of Nov 2017, sets up a reporting hotline so that people with concerns can be directed to the correct place for either advice or reporting to the police. This sounds like a fast and efficient response, and it means potential victims are put in contact with people qualified to deal with the situation.

    The SNP HQ, on receiving a concern on the 5th of Nov 2017 had the response – McCann by text message – that they would ‘sit on it and hope we don’t need to deploy it’. The concern was raised by someone that later became an accuser at the criminal trial, so the procurator fiscal thought it enough of a criminal offence. We heard in Peter Murrell’s testimony that the SNPs procedures for staff has not been updated in decades, and so no extra action or provision was made in 2017 to try and stamp out sexual harassment, and indeed the seriousness with which the SNP treated the concern raised was so lacking to almost sounding happy about there having been alleged harassment within the party. I’ll come back to this, obviously.

    The Scottish government response was to write a torturously complex quasi-judicial procedure that didn’t tie into any of their other ones and upended the roles of FM/civil service, involved a lot of legal advice and the time of very high ranking civil servants – at a time when ALL policies were being reviewed – and even when they raced through cobbling something together, still wasn’t published for two months. Luckily they’d got a few complaints already in the bag ready for when the policy was ready eh. The procedure also means that people NOT qualified to deal with potential victims – and the police told them that before the procedure was signed off – would be supporting, advising, investigating and deciding on their complaints. At no point were the complainers directed towards proper advice or support.

    I vote that the Scottish Parliament response was the best one.

    The question then arises, of course, that – if Nicola Sturgeon’s aim was to stamp out all forms of harassment and sexual Harrassment – WHY WASNT SHE FURIOUSLY UPDATING SNP POLICY TOO?! It obviously needed, and needs, done.

    That response from the SNP was abysmal. The accuser when asked, why that response from McCann, said it would be for vetting purposes (within SNP HQ). Uh, that was okay then??

    We also have, on the 31st of October, just as the government policy review was being commissioned, this SNP staffer in Westminster being texted about having any gossip on Alex Salmond, here was the testimony in the criminal trial from Craig Murray’s reporting:

    “The final witness of the day was Ms Ann Harvey, who worked in the SNP whips’ office at Westminster from 2006-9 and 2011 to present. She had been present at the Glasgow East by-election. In response to a question from Gordon Jackson, she replied that she had witnessed nothing inappropriate there when Alex Salmond visited.

    Gordon Jackson asked whether she had more recently been asked anything relevant? Ms Harvey replied that on 31 October 2017 she had received a series of 16 text messages to her private number asking for information and whether she could disclose anything about the past. Gordon Jackson asked what the messages said specifically and who they were from.

    At this point, Alex Prentice rose for the prosecution and objected to this line of questioning. The jury was dismissed and a legal argument was held on the admissibility of this information. I am not allowed to report the legal discussion. In the end the judge ruled the evidence inadmissible and Ms Harvey was dismissed.”

    So we don’t know who was on a fishing expedition then – well before the fishing expedition of the police in late 2018 and in 2019 – and well before anyone knew anything about any possible allegations about Alex Salmond.

    To me, the supposed reasoning doesn’t match up with the official reponses, for either Evans or Sturgeon. No consistency, no practicality, and no care given or thoughts about actual victims. They were playing politics.

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    1. Sorry I meant to say also, the ‘sit on it’ response by McCann is effectively telling an alleged potential victim to shut up – not a very hashtag-MeToo response.

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  24. So Anne Harvey received sixteen texts asking her if she had any information and disclosures about the past.

    And at that point the prosecution raised an objection about details of the texts and who they were, the jury were dismissed, for thereafter the judge to decide that the existence of the texts could not be disclosed.

    What kind of system is that. The more you hear, the more you realise the more you despair at the rottenness of the police and prosecution.

    But you know what, these texts exist. Dates, times, content and from who. They will, like so much else surface. And when they do, this will be the biggest constitutional crisis in Scotland’s history as a rotten and corrupt system is laid bare.

    We will achieve independence. The dark state and a corrupted SNP will endure that. So keep on forensically analysing Mr Dangerfield, keep on exposing, the dam is only leaking water just now, soon it will be an utter deluge.

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