THE SMOKING GUN

Here is the further interview I did with Tommy Sheridan for his podcast Tommy Talks on the Sputnik website in which we address the questions of what lay behind the Scottish Government conspiracy against Alex Salmond and how the present inquiry has been designed to fail.

My sincere apologies to readers waiting for A Very Scottish Coup. It is coming, I promise.

89 thoughts on “THE SMOKING GUN

  1. Gordon
    Another request for free legal advice.
    Who is it that decides to raise a contempt of court action?

    Is it the same body that raises the original prosecution? If so, it would be difficult to avoid the situation where valid contempt situations which nevertheless helped the prosecution case would be ignored, and those helping them defence would be taken forwards. As seems to be the situation in the Craig Murray case.

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    1. Robert, from time to time the presiding judge will simply find a person in contempt there and then but usually there is a prosecution by COPFS, as in Craig’s case.

      As Craig’s lawyers pointed out, it’s very unusual for anyone to be accused of prejudicing the CROWN case to the extent required by the Act to count as contempt — a high threshold. Lady Dorrian’s comment on that was quite interesting — that maybe what Craig wrote could cut either way, against Crown OR defence, on the basis that the jury might simply “take a scunner” in general.

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  2. Oh! Oh. Leslie Evans is in charge of overseeing all the evidence and redactions to the committee – I think you’ve said this before Gordon, but the podcast makes it really quite,,, stark, obvious: she should have recused herself too, I’m sure she has many many deputies.

    I posted this on the previous thread, but some of it is relevant to some parts of the podcast so – and I apologise for it being a long one and clogging up the comments, but everyone can scroll down in this digital age – I’ll post it again (5th of Nov is the date of the McCann texts)

    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. The ‘sit on it’ is effectively telling the complainer to shut up – hardly a hashtag-MeToo response. 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.

    Excellent podcast Gordon, again you manage to pick out the key parts and explain them clearly.

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    1. Thanks, Contrary. A lot of thought-provoking stuff here as always. Best to stay away from the detail of this particular accuser but a comparison of the SNP handling of her “complaint” and the Scottish Government handling of Ms A and Ms B’s complaints, running pretty much simultaneously, is instructive in the context of the SNP hoping they would never need to “deploy” the “complaint” they got.

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    2. Contrary, you set out some of the reasons I have formed the opinion that the #metoo stuff was a convenient smokescreen for the real reason for the new procedure for former ministers.

      I have posted my opinion previously on the real reason in more detail but could be summarised as ” to help a jammy bastard”.

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    3. Thanks Gordon and Cubby, I didn’t really address my initial question very well – I ran out of time, and I really struggle not to go off at tangents, so some of the points are a bit disjointed.

      The point about the SNP staffer being contacted – on the 31st of October – was that it could imply there were already moves afoot already within the SNP, in conjunction with the planned creation of the procedure, to get as much dirt on Alex Salmond as possible, very early on.

      I found the police Scotland submission to be very revealing – Judith Mackinnon was told categorically that the SG were not equipped to deal with potential victims (why not create a procedure that says ‘phone this helpline’? – if your intention was to help victims of historic abuse – that would seem a far easier solution, and be the ‘right thing to do’). Between this and the example of the helpline set up by parliament, was meant to be my main argument for saying Leslie Evans’ actual response was crazy, she was aware of better options, and it didn’t address her purported intent.

      Yeah, I didn’t want to mention any accusers at all (hence no letters even), but was trying to emphasise the fact the SNP – the party that Nicola Sturgeon is leader of – was breaching any form of reasonable practice, because the person could have been a real victim in serious trauma. I kind of wrecked that by mentioning the vetting bit though. How can someone claim to be taking a hard line of sexual harassment, and yet not even pay lip service to it in her own organisation? It makes no sense, if you try to take it at face value.

      The police evidence also said there is ongoing work by the SG ‘Equally Safe Policy Lead’, I don’t recognise the title though, so I don’t know anything about it, and didn’t get time to try and find out – could there be other mechanisms implemented within government, so the procedure wasn’t ever needed in the first place?! That’s just my suspicious mind – but do let me know if you’ve ever heard of that title.

      I’ve barely scratched the surface of the complaints handling phase – it’s not easy with so many overlaps with all other events. I’ve written down a list of Leslie Evans’ general claims now (about 12 I think)… I mean, she keeps saying, for the handling phase, that she followed legal advice exactly throughout – but if we don’t get to see the legal advice, then that’s totally irrelevant, it was her making all the decisions, so her responsibility, unless she can prove otherwise (which she won’t) – the only legal advice I’ve seen is that given to Alex Salmond, and it says nearly everything Leslie Evans did was unlawful, biased or unfair – so can we assume she got the same legal advice and knew exactly what she was doing & it was unlawful?

      It was a nice touch as well, by Leslie Evans, to say it is a SG procedure, and she followed it to the letter – as though she had nothing to do with producing it or signing it off in the first place! It wisnae her fault, it was the government and lawyers wot done it, her hands were tied. Surely there is no way the committee can let her off the hook??

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      1. “Equally Safe Policy Lead”, “Director of People Advice”, “Chief Operating Officer” (of an operation with 25 employees!) – can’t these people use plain English? The SNP are addicted to buzzwords and pompous vague job descriptions which sound important but mean nothing.

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      2. Well, I wasn’t being very alert about the ‘Equally Safe Policy’ – it doesn’t seem relevant in and of itself, but because the Police Scotland submission mentioned it (and I think their submission does have enough clues in it to say that the procedure was developed and executed against reasonable advice), I thought to have a look.

        The Equally Safe Policy was developed as “Scotland’s Strategy for preventing and eradicating violence against women and girls”. It was set out in 2014 as a response to the statistics that show, worldwide, women and girls are disproportionately affected by abuse.

        After a simple Internet search:

        A rough timeline: in 2014 it was planned to address issues solely focusing on women and girls, as the title suggests, and as the aims suggest.

        By November 2017 it had started to include a section and consideration of “Intersectionality between gender and other characteristics” – which is an opaque way of saying ‘we think every other minority group takes precedence over women and girls so we plan to include everyone else, and their dog’. The minister overseeing this, the Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security, and Equalies was *Angela Constance MSP*. The Lead Official at that time was Kirsten McPhee (I don’t recognise this name).

        Now, of course, as a report issued on 24th November 2020 – remembering it still has the same title of only mentioning ‘women and girls’ – it not only includes everyone & their dog, it headlines other minority groups over and above women and girls. The Minister for Older People and Equalities and the Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and Older People have been overseeing this policy since the roles were created in June 2018, and are Christina McKelvie MSP and Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP.

        I would suggest that their policy, in and of itself, is an abuse of women and girls – you can’t purport (jeez I’ve been reading too much legalese) to want to tackle a specific issue for a specific group, then sideline that same group into a lesser important category. And part of the problem, as stated in the reports, is, in fact, that women and girls are considered lesser within society – this last one means the report itself just gives a state sanction to the idea that women and girls don’t deserve any particular status, and that everyone else, and their dog, takes precedence.

        Of course, the Bill for ‘Gender Representation on Public Boards (Scotland) – controversial enough at the time, is even more controversial now with the amendment made to say ‘women’ can cover any definition you like of ‘everyone, and their dog’ and is now being argued about in court. This was introduced in June 2017, and is used to demonstrate actions taken to move the Equally Safe Policy forward. Why don’t they just remove ‘women and girls’ from the title and say it’s about everyone? It irritates me.

        Sorry, that took me off on a totally irrelevant path, except maybe for some context in timing – there was a major cabinet reshuffle in June 2018 creating various new roles, and perhaps interesting to know what Angela Constance’s role was as a cabinet secretary,,, up to June 2018. I know they all declare interests at the first Committee meeting, but, if so, would she not be involved in many of these decisions as taken ‘by cabinet’ in 2017 in reviewing policies and developing the Procedure?

        That can’t be right surely?

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  3. The total silence on the part of the MSM about Craig Murray’s revelations has left me deeply disturbed. Essentially we appear to be in a situation where our politics, our police, our prosecution service, our civil service, and our mainstream media are all corrupt at the highest levels.

    There isn’t actually anybody left to take action on behalf of the public. Even if the judiciary aren’t corrupt, they don’t have the authority to order police investigations or criminal prosecutions, and they can’t establish a judge-led enquiry.

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      1. I recall someone saying that Rupert Murdoch doesn’t tell his editors which stories to publish – he doesn’t have to, they already know which he wants to publish and the ones he doesn’t. The editors and journalists all know that if they write or publish stories he doesn’t like they’ll soon be out of a job.

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      2. Exactly, Stuart, and never underestimate either the human gift for self-rationalisation. Who really wants to go to work every day as an establishment stooge when you can just agree with all your colleagues that you’re all fearless crusading mavericks? I believe Gramsci called it hegemony.

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      3. I enjoyed this clip from Chomsky… a great thinking man!

        To add my silly little tuppence worth….

        I went to a not very good comprehensive school in central Scotland. My teachers thought I was a trouble maker because I kept asking ‘Why?. Only a trouble maker would challenge ‘the tablets of stone’ that they gift wrapped for us in a cosy bourgeoise narrative (except for Physics of course, where narrative is just wasted energy).

        My teachers predicted I would achieve 5 Cs and 2Bs in my O Grade exams. I actually achieved 5A and 2 Bs.

        Reflecting on this over the years, while working in academia, I have now come to understand that my teachers were actually ‘gatekeepers’ and were not prepared to be challenged by a pupil who dared to ask ‘ Why?’

        It is the greatest word in the language. We should use it more.

        P.S. Thanks Gordon for shining a light in to the darkness that seems to be engulfing us.

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  4. The thing is that the members of the inquiry are politicians. What do they know? I mean really what is it about this group that makes them able to carry out such an inquiry? A quick Google of one or two of them ( life is too short and it’s too boring to look at them all) and I can’t see anything that they have done that has given them the skills to carry out a rigorous and robust inquiry. Once you are a politician do you get training in ‘how to be on an inquiry’?

    Leslie Evans can run rings around them and that is exactly what she is doing by orchestrating everything that comes to the inquiry and, as you have so rightly pointed out, an inquiry that is investigating her. People at her grade in the SG are masters of the art of spin, lies, and burying the truth…they do it to Ministers all the time if the Ministers but knew. The members of the inquiry are no match for her.

    The inquiry needs help, and there are bound to be many ex-civil servants who can easily give them an indication of what they need to ask and how to ask it in internal Scottish Government Administration terms to stop allowing them so much wriggle room and ensure that this woman is held to account.

    On another matter, I have met John Swinney a few times, I always thought he was a decent chap, I don’t like the way this is heading for him.

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    1. Spot-on as usual, LB. Some of it is just the utter incompetence of the Committee clerks and the unsuitability of the format and MSP personnel for any kind of properly focused and expert questioning.

      Instead of courses on “unconscious transphobia” or whatever other nonsense “training” is currently being pushed by the usual trendy grifters, what about a course for MSPs who sit on Parliamentary Committees on just the absolute basics of examination and cross-examination of witnesses? We could start with the DIFFERENCE between examination-in-chief (just pinning a witness down on the actual facts, an exercise which should occupy the vast bulk of these Committee sessions) and cross-examination (which is a difficult skill to assimilate, and which no-one should criticise MSPs for not having mastered, but which even experts can’t get anywhere with until there has been efficient examination-in-chief).

      And then on top of that usual incompetence and unsuitability and lack of basic training, there is of course the design of this particular Committee, evident in its remit and composition (Jackie Baillie excepted — that must have been a miscalculation) to guarantee that it would fail…

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      1. My impression of the way Parliamentary committees are formed (at least in Oz) is that the places are divided between parties more or less in the ratio of seats in parliament, with the govt having the majority and providing the chair. Each party nominates who it’s representatives will be, so in this case the Conservatives, Labour and LibDem parties would have selected their own people. Maybe the lacklustre performance is a reflection of a lack of talent in the opposition parties.

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    2. Lulu Bells, they did have the former Permanent Secretary come in for a chat – he WAS the epitome of civil servant hood (and probably more relaxed because he’d retired) – and I got the impression he was slating (in a roundabout manner as they do) Leslie Evans for doing a poor job. Of course, Leslie Evans wasn’t doing her job, she’d taken on a little side-task from NS, but I can’t figure out which it was that was getting slated.

      Gordon – aha! There is an actual phrase for getting the witness to state the facts – ‘examination-in-chief’ (I’m sure that was plain English at one time over the past 700 years) – and you are so right, the committee has frustratingly failed to do this, they just keep asking near enough the same vague questions.

      I’m guessing whoever appointed the committee was expecting Jackie Baillie to be as rubbish as she is in parliamentary debates, but it turns out she has found her calling in the committee for interrogation, she’s quite impressive – if only she’d had examination-in-chief training she’d be a real force to be reckoned with.

      I hope the committee doesn’t fail though – even if they just conclude something very nasty stinks & recommend a judge led inquiry, that would at least not be sweeping it under the carpet. And I think just like Leslie Evans and Judith Mackinnon were not qualified and not capable of handling the complaints or complainers, the committee members aren’t here too, not for the seriousness and the extent of this conspiracy/cover up.

      I think the committee is hobbled by the other inquiry – on the ministerial code – and the review of the procedure too. For the latter, Leslie Evans just keeps saying they’ll wait for that outcome for any changes – so is the committee going to demand they ditch the procedure while that review is still ongoing? I doubt it. Sneaky manoeuvres.

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      1. Contrary, “whoever appointed the committee was expecting Jackie Baillie to be as rubbish as she is in parliamentary debates” expresses it perfectly — I absolutely can’t top that.

        And yes, I think she has found her calling. She has great courtroom presence and authority and you can see the witnesses bracing themselves when she comes on.

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    3. LB,

      a quick google of two committee members reveals this:-

      “Three ministers were today sacked by Alex Salmond in his first reshuffle since the 2007 election.

      Stewart Maxwell, Linda Fabiani and Maureen Watt were “invited to resign” from their respective posts, said a spokesman”.

      (From The Herald 10th Feb 2009)

      https://www.heraldscotland.com/news/12379773.stewart-maxwell-linda-fabiani-and-maureen-watt-lose-jobs-in-salmond-shake-up/

      Make of that what you will…

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    4. “People at her grade in the SG are masters of the art of spin, lies, and burying the truth…they do it to Ministers all the time if the Ministers but knew. The members of the inquiry are no match for her”.

      I can vouch for that (although Evans is something of an amateur in the dark arts compared to most of her predecessors – though cunning enough for this lot).

      I used to work in what was then the old “Scottish Office” in St Andrews House. I was involved for a time in drafting ministerial replies to Parliamentarians (House of Commons and House of Lords at that pre-devolution time).

      I was taught very carefully that the main aim was to control the information supplied in such a way as to ‘steer’ the ministerial response such that it conformed to departmental policy on that matter at that time. (Departmental policy was not determined by ministers or other politicians – except in a broad brush way – and they, the ministers, were in turn ‘steered’ too. But was set by the aims and objectives of the permanent government – the Civil Service itself).

      Ministers – we were told – came and went – but we (the permanent government) remained the same.

      I was taught how too filet files for the information that maintained that position, whilst ignoring that which did not. The files were brought to us and removed after use by an ex-serviceman – I never did discover where they were kept – and were not, except under unusual circumstances – allowed to be retained in our office over-night.

      These files were never, never, ever, seen by anyone other than civil servants. I was often astonished by the personal remarks made in these files about the ‘intelligence’ or the ‘reliability’ of particular ministers and the parliamentarians who asked the questions. Our additional papers were added to the files using ‘treasury tabs’ and the pages numbered by hand sequentially.

      The flow of information to ministers – and hence the answers they provided to elected (and this being the UK unelected H of L) politicians was controlled to the utmost by the civil service – information is power.

      Phrases that later came out such as being ‘economic with the actualitee’ struck me as entirely correct – and a precise description of the civil service approach. Ministers are provided with the picture that the civil service – and the opaque Establishment structures that they serve and which determine how WE are governed – i.e. controlled – that served this Establishment – essentially ruling class high bourgeois interests – the City etc .

      There is a notion abroad that we have a democracy, and that policy and government practice is under the control of elected politicians on our behalf.

      You really have to be daft to believe that. Anyone who thinks that we will achieve independence using the apparatus of (the British) state – really need to have their heads examined.

      The Holyrood enquiry – whose membership is less than scintillating in its intellectual and forensic gifts – is being played like a fiddle. Good word here ‘fiddle’.

      As is Ms Sturgeon herself – although that at present suits her limited ambitions. Very limited ambitions!

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      1. Fascinating stuff, Bernard. Please say hi to Humphrey Woolley for me!

        I encountered this at a lower level when I was a Labour Councillor on the old Dumfries and Galloway Regional Council and, just as Tony Benn has described it in detail, all the reports put before us framed the issues and then gave us two or, at most, three options, all of which were acceptable to the officials (unlike the many options falling outside the frame and never mentioned), giving us the illusion of choice.

        I was amazed at how the political parties, including my own, would then fight fiercely over these incredibly narrow options and really regard it as a victory if their option prevailed.

        Another discovery I made was how incompetent and poorly researched these reports were every time I actually knew something about the subject of them. In my case it was law, but I discovered that every time another councillor of whatever party was in the same position — say a social worker or in the construction business — they would say the same as I did about the confident authoritative-seeming reports we were getting: This report is nonsense; the facts are all wrong.

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      2. Thanks for the comment Gordon. What I might have added was that (unlike myself) a large proportion of my colleagues had been privately educated, and tended to be graduates of Edinburgh and StAndrews universities – with a very narrow Overton Window of the politically possible/desirable.

        I might also add that (and I’ve no reason to believe this has changed) is that just about EVERYTHING we did on policy and proposed actions had to be referred to an checked in with/approved by our sponsoring Whitehall Dept – and I don’t mean Dover House (The “Scottish” Office in Whitehall).

        In my case it was the old DOH at Elephant & Caste. The concept of administrative devolution was a myth – even at that time (well over 20 years ago).

        It really is a profoundly colonial system – as Alfred Baird argues in hist superb book (and in numerous Indy blogs): Doun Hauden: The Sociopolitical Determinants of Scottish Independence

        None of the recent revelations by Craig Murray (who knows the Brit system much better than I do) and your excellent forensic work on the recent outrageous events, comes as real surprise to me. Shocking forbye that!

        There are few folk with your skill sets – and political commitment (like you I am a libertarian socialist Indy supporter) able and willing to spill the beans on our equally corrupt – and related – legal system.

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  5. Gordon I greatly appreciate your Blog. I too have been following the Scottish Government Salmond enquiry. I was much taken by your comment that in your opinion it will fail. Indeed I think you state it is designed to fail.

    You also make the intriguing comment that there must be a Judge led effort. Could you indulge me in just exactly how that would ever come to pass. The COPFS and the SG will never support it, MSP’s who would want it are not in a majority. Westminster has to my knowledge no power to implement such an activity.

    So we are in Dante’s inferno…..if we believe what we are seeing a potentially corrupt state with no mechanism to bring accountability.

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    1. Thanks, Jimmy. It would have to come about for the same reason the vote to have the SG release the legal advice came about — with all the opposition MSPs, including the Greens, supporting it and some SNP MSPs either abstaining or voting for it.

      Given that Nicola says she has nothing to hide, the SG couldn’t oppose it on principled grounds but only on the usual grounds of more expense, you’ve already had your inquiry, let’s move on, covid, covid, covid…

      I think the Scottish public will find that line increasingly untenable, so personally I’m optimistic.

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  6. Gordon, In the interview you made much of the complainant saying it should be a ‘vetting issue’. Reading Craig Murray’s affadavit he mentions that he had a talk with Alex Salmond and AS said that he was actually retiring from politics and was in line to be appointed Chief Executive of Johnson Press.

    Could the Sturgeonites have panicked at this? If the Scotsman had become pro-independence then AS might have been holding a pitchfork to their bums to push them for action.

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    1. Dave, one of the great ironies of all of this (and for the literary pedants like myself out there, it IS dramatic irony) is that, if numerous folks close to Salmond are to be believed, he truly DIDN’T have any intention of returning to frontline politics.

      I think you’re right to describe as panic their response to just a perceived risk that he might return, and I think you’re right too in one possible reason you give for that panic.

      I’d also like to believe — though I don’t know his detailed views — that Salmond would have little truck with the reality-denial and misogyny that Joanna Cherry, Joan McAlpine and others are fighting and that Sturgeon champions as “progressive” to cover for her Government’s increasingly deep conservatism.

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  7. The main protagonists in this case seem overly fond of military analogies to describe their antics.
    In a very readable record of the results of failed militarism in his book ‘Hitler’s Last Days’, Professor Hugh Trevor Roper notes how this ended up.
    “No-one, I think, can have read this account of life in a monkey house without asking at least two questions to which he may expect an answer: firstly, how did such monkeys succeed in seizing and retaining power; and secondly , how did they so nearly win the war?”

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    1. Mike, I’m afraid I can’t think of the man without thinking of Alan Bennett’s portrayal of him in the drama they did of the fake Hitler Diaries and him being duped by them.

      I do think that not enough has been made of the macho militaristic language in which these supposed victims of “toxic masculinity” and their supporters expressed themselves to each other. I’ll stand by my prediction in the podcast that further messages, if disclosed, will continue that macho theme, and I think it tells us a lot more about the true mentality of these highly successful professional people than the stereotypes of victim mentality which are peddled on their behalf, and which every feminist I know feels insulted by.

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  8. Which is in itself a very interesting observation Gordon. Hugh Trevor-Roper clearly suffered some form of cognitive dissonance when it came to verifying the authenticity of the Hitler Diaries. He suspected they were fakes but couldn’t bring hinself to admit that they were, mirroring I would suggest the feelings that many supporters of NS and Co are currently experiencing.

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  9. On a final note on this, what is happening is a seminal moment in Scottish history and someone, somewhere is already thinking of a screenplay.
    I don’t think the gentle, self-mocking satire of Alan Bennett will quite cut it, it’s definitely more Brian De Palma and ‘Goodfellas’..

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  10. Gordon
    Following my theme of seejking free legal advice, I’m pondering a “burden of proof” question.

    If I post on Facebook that someone I know – let’s call then Elizabeth – has done something criminal, they could sue me for libel, and in defence I would need to prove that they had done the criminal act.

    But if I made the same statement in a sworn affidavit in my defence at a trial for something else, and a perjury charge were levelled agaist me, where does the burden of proof lie?

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  11. Gordon, I didn’t read Murrell’s use of the words “firefighting on as many fronts as possible” in the military sense of a gunfight but more in the sense of a fireman rushing around attempting to put out fires on all sides and unable to cope.

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    1. Maybe that’s an Australian usage, Stuart.

      In the UK, the phrase we use for the activity you refer to is “putting out fires” — defined by the Cambridge English Dictionary as “spend[ing] time on problems that need to be dealt with quickly instead of working in a calm, planned way”.

      “Firefighting”, by contrast, and according to the same Dictionary, is “fight[ing], often unexpected, between opposing groups of soldiers in which they shoot each other”.

      For completeness, “front” in this context is “the place where fighting takes place in a war”.

      And in light of today’s further revelations, I’m sure I hardly need to point out that there was a great deal of firefighting in Vietnam.

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      1. I’m with Stuart in his interpretation of the use of the word. And I have to say that the Oxford dictionary supports us, if you look for the definition of ‘firefighting’ (especially in a business context) rather than ‘firefight’.

        I’ve been a soldier so am well aware of the military meaning of the term but when I worked in a shipping company office in Aberdeen 20 years ago we used the term ‘firefighting’ to describe the company’s approach to operational decisions very much in the ‘putting out fires’ sense of the word.

        Murrell et al come more from the world of business then they do the military but they may also be guilty of mixing metaphors as well as terminology.

        I mean, “Vietnam” group: what on earth is that about?

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      2. Over here the expression “fire front” is commonly used in news stories when describing bushfires, as in “the fire front now stretches for 20km”. Windborne embers start frequent spot fires several km ahead of the fire front which the fire brigades have to rush about putting out before they become serious problems. So the firefighting analogy works for me.

        However I do concede there’s a lot of crossover between military and fire services terminology. “Fighting” fires and fire “brigades” for example. In the military units that were often rushed to stem enemy breakthroughs were frequently nicknamed “fire brigades” eg the Waffen SS divisions were known as “the Fuhrer’s Fire Brigade”.

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      3. Yes, it’s also relevant, as Hugh says, that so much military language has crossed over into business language and isn’t even metaphorical any more but is now literal for the people using it. I keep having to look up terms like “sitrep” that I find in the SG papers produced for the inquiry and more often than not they have military origins (“sitrep”, for the uninitiated like me, being short for a “situational report” in military terminology).

        I fondly remember Reggie Perrin’s military brother-in-law Jimmy (played by the late, great Geoffrey Palmer) who talked constantly of many cock-ups on many “fronts” — “Bit of a cock-up on the catering front” etc. I can’t help thinking that Jimmy popularised the use of “front” on the, er, non-military front for a lot of people of my generation.

        Going back to Murrell’s firefighting and other SG statements about wars, battles, deploying stuff etc, the literal meanings of the figurative language we’re discussing here (the tenors of the vehicles, to get technical) are practically identical on any reading so I think it just comes down to how consciously we think the military connotations that lie at the back of it all are being used by the speakers.

        I think it’s pretty conscious but even if it isn’t, I think we all agree that it’s significant.

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  12. It’s fashionable to decry the practice of Ministers appointing Special Advisers but there is a real need to provide
    alternative advice or at least an ability to critique the advice received from the civil service. Too often alternative opinions get vetoed long before they get anywhere near the Minister’s intray and the choices presented are limited by civil service groupthink. That’s one of the good features* of the US system, that they reach outside the bureaucracy for advice and also for positions in the administration. AFAIK there is no equivalent in Australia or the UK** of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers which consists of distinguished economists whereas in our countries the only alternative advice to Treasury is from the Reserve Bank, who generally share the same viewpoint.

    * And yes, I’m well aware of the many bad features of the US system as well
    ** I did take a look at Scotland’s CEA but at first glance it appears to be heavily weighted towards business and light on experienced economists so not really comparable to the US CEA

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    1. Unfortunately, our First Minister has appointed a clique of Special Advisers who belong to the same McCarthyite cult that she does, which is why we have the GRA, the Hate Crimes Bill, and the self-righteous authoritarian attitude to opposition of any kind that has gotten us here.

      I have the same quaint socialist views as Tony Benn here, which I know are dreadfully old-fashioned. What about having truly democratic structures within the Party to arrive by fierce argument and debate at the best policies, which the democratically elected members of the Party then implement? And why not have procedures in place for the Party to remove them if they don’t?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Gordon,

        On Tony Benn, and going back to the days when people were allowed to talk about the injustices of the security services to some extent – you have to wonder at how bad things are now when there appears to be no oversight, or even risk of exposure if things have gone beyond any kind of morality.

        Fascinating 1989 After Dark chat about security services just before new official secrets act came into effect:

        From the days when channel 4 was trying to be radical and new! I liked watching it anyway – it gives insight into how MPs are recruited too.

        Any thoughts on the COPFS reply to Fabiani as published on COPFS website? I don’t think it’s written in plain English, and would like an interpretation!

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      2. I’ll definitely watch that when I can, Contrary.

        My interpretation of the COPFS letter is that the relevant provisions of the Scotland Act allow a Procurator Fiscal (a local prosecutor) to withhold material if authorised to do so by the Lord Advocate on grounds of prejudice to ongoing proceedings or to the public interest.

        But — haha! — the Lord Advocate has “recused” himself here (whatever that means, since he is constitutionally responsible) from making any decisions about Alex Salmond and so has tied his own hands from giving that authorisation.

        Therefore, COPFS, on behalf of the Procurator Fiscal, has turned the stuff over to the Committee and invited them to do the Lord Advocate’s job for him in deciding whether their having the material is in the public interest.

        You honestly couldn’t make this up, and it’s yet another illustration of what an absolute mess the Lord Advocate’s constitutional position is.

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      3. Thanks for the interpretation of the COPFS open letter! I *thought* it was saying something along those lines – passing it all over to Fabiani to decide if it’s in the public’s interest – but really couldn’t be sure – honestly, trying to figure out what people are really saying is a form of torture sometimes.

        The more that gets revealed about the Lord Advocate the more we realise that the role itself, not just the awful person in that role right now, is,,, indeed a mess – it’s a contrary, impossible position – or rather the roles plural of that one position are the ultimate in already being compromised. Who on earth decided on the roles that the position should have? I assume it was created at devolution, but has only come to light, become a problem, with the current Lord Advocate having too many fingers in too many pies. It really needs addressed – though I also assume that’ll need to come from government… *sigh*

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      4. Gordon, as I haven’t lived in Scotland or the UK these last 50 years I don’t know who the Special Advisers at SG level are or what they’re up to. On the basis of what I’ve read here and on Wings it appears a lot of SG Spads spend their time on party vendettas. I agree that if you appoint people who tell you what you want to hear, then you’ll have bad outcomes.

        My point was that if Ministers are going to do a good job, need their own resources for research and analysis as well as sources of outside advice, otherwise they become prisoners of the bureaucracy who control all the information they receive and the policy options available. To some degree the parties can develop policy in broad terms but they’re never going to have the resources of the civil service nor be able to critique every decision the Government has to make.

        As for “truly democratic structures within the Party to arrive by fierce argument and debate at the best policies” that’s nice in theory but doesn’t work in practice. The majority of the party members don’t understand the issues, are too lazy or incapable to learn about them and just fall back on their existing shibboleths. (Whether it’s “nationalise industry” or “unshackle us from regulation” from either side of politics, they equally fail under rational analysis.) The best you can do is have a Policy Development Unit within the Party to analyse and develop policy and submit the policy to annual Conference for debate and approval.

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      5. I’m a libertarian socialist and disagree at the most profound level with your last paragraph, Stuart. I think the average car mechanic would do a much better job on economic policy than Brown, Balls, Miliband or any of their SPADS, and as for Liz Lloyd…

        Don’t have time now to get into it but yours is exactly the kind of thinking I planned to challenge in my political posts when I started this blog, so roll on the day!

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      6. I know you won’t have had time to watch the After Dark Out of Bounds episode yet, Gordon, (it’s very long) but I ended up watching it myself ,,, there appears to be some stories missing, like one about taking suitcases of money into Eastern Europe that I had been looking forward to; maybe I dozed off and missed them or was mistaken, I didn’t spot any particular editing on it – anyway, not to worry.

        Tony Benn is good here – and so much is true to this day, talking about democracy: how can the voters know what they are voting for, how can they make choices, when government is wrapped in so much secrecy? Secrecy is so very true for Westminster, and one of my biggest disappointments in Holyrood now that they are indulging – to be promised transparency, but to be given the opposite really angers me.

        Well, as I am a voter, I will be keeping myself as informed as I can be and making my choices from that.

        I see you say below you are mega-busy – so I say, don’t overdo it: There’s only so much that can be fitted into each day… I find I need time out just to let my brain process everything, particularly with so many things happening & changing these days – so I always put unfocused contemplation down as ‘making progress’. Just throwing it out there as an option.(It is possible I should also be doing useful mundane housework chores at the same time, but, you know, I don’t want to strain anything).

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  13. It’s unclear from that letter whether all the documents that Alex Salmond has pointed the Committee to have been provided, let alone any other documents they hold that are relevant. It’s pretty condescending for the Lord Advocate and John Swinney to say to an Inquiry “we’ll decide what’s relevant to your Inquiry”. Cynic that I am, I can’t help thinking that by “public interest” they really mean “in my interest”.

    Gordon, am I right in thinking that the Crown Office part of COPFS relates to drafting legislation and providing legal advice to the SG as well as representing the SG in civil proceedings while the PFS handles criminal prosecutions? That would make the Lord Advocate’s position that of Attorney General, Solicitor General and Director of Public Prosecutions all rolled into one. It would make sense to make the latter two non-political appointments separate from the government of the day, as it is

    Seeking more legal advice ☺️, if I was the judge at either the judicial review or criminal trial and read in the papers that there were relevant documents that had been withheld from my court I’d be summoning the SG into court to produce the documents and answer why they should not be found in contempt of court. Can a judge do this on his own initiative after the decision has been brought down?

    Another point, Craig Murray mentioned that he would like to have obtained a transcript of the Assange or Salmond trial but that the Court would have charged him 10K for the privilege. In these days of computer word processing the marginal cost of printing off a copy is minimal, so that’s inexcusable. Do counsel get copies of each day’s proceedings from the court reporting service or do they have to remember everything? Are each party entitled to a copy of the transcript on completion of the trial? You mentioned that summary proceedings are not recorded, which I would think make an appeal almost impossible. I see no reason why in the 21st century all court proceedings should not be videoed (including magistrates Court) for future reference, copies supplied to the relevant parties and transcripts be publicly accessible on a court website.

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  14. Well, well.

    So it turns out that Peter Murrell, due to appear before Committee today, has decided he doesn’t want to attend,,, just after COPFS hands over a few ‘texts’ that he sent/received to the committee to do with what they will. Of course, his last written evidence said categorically:

    “WhatsApp

    Committee Q: For completeness, the Committee would be grateful if you could confirm whether you have ever used WhatsApp in the past including any communications with SNP officials or party members on anything related to concerns about the former first minister and the timescales for such exchanges.

    Murrell Answer: I confirm that I have not used WhatsApp on any matters related to concerns raised about the behaviour of Mr Salmond.

    Committee Q: Similarly, the Committee would appreciate confirmation as to whether there were any other electronic discussion groups you were involved in, for example text messages to multiple recipients or other platforms where such concerns were discussed with SNP officials and/or SNP party members (and again the relevant timescales).

    Murrell Answer: I can confirm that I was not involved in any discussion groups where such concerns were discussed”

    I’m sure all these things are just coincidence, and he’s not really a brazenly lying toe rag who has committed perjury. Will this drive the committee to call for a judge-led inquiry? Surely they have to admit they don’t have the skills or power to complete such a serious and wide-ranging inquiry.

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  15. And, of course, there is the written submission by Leslie Evans ‘clarifying’ (it doesn’t) some questions asked on her 12th Jan oral evidence – it needs ripped apart, claiming Alex Salmond got the ‘appropriate’ details of the allegations against him – hah! I’ve just read reams of solicitor letters to her, which she claims to have mostly not been “aware” of, that continually argue she didn’t hand over the the correct information.

    And all the reports her and Judith Mackinnon produced are ‘reduced’ – that is, they have no standing in law etc and cannot be published, by order of Lord Pentland – which I think tells us the value of their ‘investigation’. She is still trying to punt her Decision Report – probably for shock value – even now, even though the entire premise of the investigation and any decisions should and probably would have been deemed unlawful (if the judicial review could have concluded). This needs a judge to rule on this phase – it is far too complicated, and in reality needs Leslie Evans to defend herself individually (not just representing ministers) – she was the sole arbiter of this investigation and decision, and as soon as she decided to enact the procedure, she was no longer acting on behalf of ministers. I think that’s a key point that maybe Gordon can give an opinion on – as soon as the FM recused herself, and the Permanent Secretary took on the role of decision maker, is she then fully responsible and no longer acting ‘on behalf’ of anyone?

    And look at this non-answer to the question of ‘could a special advisor have known the identity of the accusers’:

    “Knowledge of the identities of complainers

    Ms Baillie asked how many Scottish Government staff were aware of the identities of the complainers, and whether it would have been possible for a special adviser to have known any of the complainers’ names.

    As I indicated during the Committee session, protecting the confidentiality of the complainers was of paramount importance in the investigation process and ever since. The Committee has already heard evidence about interactions with one or both of the complainers by myself, Judith Mackinnon, Nicola Richards, Barbara Allison, Gillian Russell and John Somers. In addition – aside from witnesses or potential witnesses – a very small number of HR, legal and support staff would have been aware of identities.”

    So, not actually answering the question – so not perjuring herself, and not revealing the truth. There are no assurances there that no SpAd knew the names. I think I see why, now, Swinney threw out that most odd piece of information about John Somers meeting MsA – to deflect from any information there may be about Liz Lloyd (a good pal of Somers) being involved. She was involved of course, for certain in the procedure development, and as alleged in arranging and attending meetings with Geoff Aberdein. If interviewing her is ‘too hot to handle’ for the committee – it needs to be passed over to a judge who can investigate with a full remit.

    And I mean with a full remit: this is in the public’s interest. “Secrecy for secrecy’s sake” is not acceptable – if there is a cover up (well, we know there is) it needs exposed, and the people executing the cover up need exposed, the uncertainty caused will just degenerate any trust there might be left with our public services. Was it in ‘the public interest’ to publicise Alex Salmond’s name linked to the original allegations? No, most definitely not, we had no reason to know anything about it until a judge and jury had ruled on the matter, and only then if he’d been found guilty. The cause of that exposure – which could have only come from within government – needs to be found. As well as every single ‘decision’ of Leslie Evans, and whichever minister(s) she happened to working on behalf of.

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  16. I wrote this in answer to a question on the current Wings thread questioning the chain of evidence and do the committee have a right to ask for the Murrell text from COPFS (and mixing up the roles of the Lord Advocate), so just in case it answers any questions here (and of course, any scrutiny from Gordon, when he has time, to to make sure I haven’t picked the nuance incorrectly):

    You have to be careful not mix up the many different,,, entangled strands of this inquiry. Okay, I know that’s impossible, and the media certainly does its best to confuse the issue more.

    The Lord Advocate is answering questions in his capacity as a minister, and being in charge of giving the government legal advice – it’s this he’s obfuscating on, and claiming legal parliamentary privilege to not reveal any of it. The only thing we know for certain is that legal advice was given, through all the stages – but what that advice was, we are meant to just trust him that it was all very right and proper.

    The Lord Advocate, as the head of our prosecution services, has wholly recused himself from any matters to do with Alex Salmond, so the evidence held by COPFS, is nothing whatsoever to do with him. Some might speculate he made an off-hand quote along the lines of “who will rid me of this turbulent priest”, but by recusing himself, he had no hand in anything to do with COPFS releasing evidence.

    The Lord Advocate’s position is untenable because the mix of those two roles are a conflict of interest (as evidenced by him having to recuse himself from one of the roles).

    So then we come to the chain of evidence – evidence was leaked to Kenny McKaskill from the COPFS dungeons and was put into the public domain, implicating Peter Murrell’s involvement. So the committee knows, from publicly available evidence, that Murrell has questions to answer. Alex Salmond has also alleged that COPFS holds evidence that shows this is a conspiracy. BUT,,,

    Alex Salmond has been threatened with prosecution, by COPFS, not just if he reveals this evidence, but even if he mentions what evidence there is that could be asked for – that is, he can’t even tell the committee what search criteria they might like to use to ask for evidence, or he gets prosecuted. Meanwhile, COPFS has written back to the committee, after their first vague request for ‘any information’, to say they need to be specific on the dates and types of information required, or COPFS won’t hand any over. That is, the committee is not allowed to know what evidence to ask for, and it has been told, if it want any, it needs to know what to ask for. Catch 22.

    Now we have had the committee officially asking for specific evidence, under legal directives, so fulfilling all of COPFS stipulations. And, because the Lord Advocate has recused himself, COPFS have no one to tell them whether or not it’s in the public’s interests to have any of it published, so COPFS has handed over the whole lot, and told the committee it’s now their responsibility to decide.

    With that success, if I were the committee I’d be asking for the Sue Ruddick/Murrell texts too now. It is possible, of course, that they went for some fairly inoccuous evidence to get the ball rolling – to set a precedent for COPFS handing over evidence – COPFS be hard pushed, now, to find an excuse to not hand over further evidence. But there are doubts as to the integrity of the committee, so we can’t be confident this will happen.

    The reason Alex Salmond has been delaying his appearance, of course, is because of the COPFS threat of prosecution if he tells the truth, and because COPFS refuses to release any evidence that could back up his claims. The committee demanding he appears without addressing these concerns, when the investigation is entirely about how the government persecuted him, is outrageous.

    That’s how I see that strand of the inquiry, at this point, anyway.

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    1. Thank you Contrary… your post has really helped me get to grips with where we are at now. Surely it is completely unsustainable for the Committee not now to require the hand over of the Murrell texts as well? The white wash accusation would be impossible to ‘wash away’ if they failed to do that.

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    2. Thanks from me, too. Keep going.

      https://www.copfs.gov.uk/media-site-news-from-copfs/1927-response-to-scottish-parliament-committee-request

      It is unlikely (putting it mildly) that Mr Murrell knew nothing of Ian McCann (Compliance Manager) and his whatsapp message about sitting on a complaint/complaints of sexual harassment until they were “needed”. McCann was supposed to give evidence but did not. He would have problems explaining what he meant by “needed” in the context of an harassment complaint.

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    3. Thanks Achnababan and Sam both,

      It helps if I see a specific question, or spot a particular point of confusion, that I might have managed to clarify in my own mind – but in general I have no idea how much people understand, or want to know – I would never manage to be a blogger myself! Just bringing a subject up in the first place. (As well as the terrible grammar). I’m glad it was helpful – we get bogged down in detail sometimes on this site, rather than regularly giving an overview, so I think it’s worthwhile people sharing their reflections and summarising bits.

      I think I’m beginning to see Gordon’s point about the committee being compromised – I’m not sure how it can’t be – even if Fabiani, as an example, has the best of intentions and holds no grudge against Alex Salmond – she is investigating, and has to report on, two people who are both her bosses – Nicola Sturgeon and Peter Murrell – and I can’t see how it’s NOT possible for her to take an interest in her job and future career (or pension in her case), with no guarantee those two will be out of the picture, and looking at lots of evidence showing exactly how vindictive both are… Anyone would be reluctant to take a hard line, or even be critical. Should any of the SNP members be present, or interviewing either Murrell or Sturgeon? None of them can be expected to be unbiased – there is a real conflict of interest, particularly where there is now a question over party/government business lines being crossed.

      At the same time – you couldnt solely have opposition MSPs investigating the government (because of their inherent bias). They could have maybe resolved this by allowing a majority of opposition MSPs to sit, but they haven’t. With the current political climate, I can’t see the SNP MSPs sitting on the committee as anything but compromised (and in a majority) – either they rebel and lose their jobs with a vindictive backlash, or comply and not do the committee’s, and parliament’s, work.

      It’s a bit mad, when you think about it, that parliament even contemplated investigating this using a committee inquiry. A neutral judge would have been the sensible choice.

      Then, in answer to the question of them having to ask for the other, more relevant, evidence – it’s going to depend on the pressure the opposition parties and parliament bring to bear, and how much the SNP members want to retain some semblance of credibility – maybe a couple have principles too? So, it’s uncertain, but possible – not doing so will make the committee look bad for sure.

      There is also the problem that if no one is allowed to see the evidence the committee should be asking for – how does parliament know it’s worth demanding, do they just bow to the committee’s judgement on the issue? Ugh, we may be relying on Murdo, Cole-Hamilton and Baillie kicking up a fuss. Again. But at least we can, mostly, rely on them to do so. (Too much party politics going on, to say anything for sure).

      I’ve gone into too much detail there – but I think setting the precendent for COPFS releasing evidence makes it much more likely more will be released (despite my negativity above, of course – it’s just incredibly difficult to weigh things up and guess at the likelihood of events).

      Was McCann supposed to give evidence? I didn’t notice that Sam – are you sure you don’t mean Aberdein? Or even Liz Lloyd! It was just when I read the committee’s remit there again, that it specifically states ‘special advisers’ that they are investigating (as well as NS and the civil servants) – I hardly think they are doing that, when they haven’t even talked to one. And ‘deployed’ was McCann’s phrase – see above for the discussion on military terminology! And I think ‘deployed’ has a meaning that’s specific enough to not be as ambiguous as ‘needed’. In fact, there is no ambiguity either way – that’s not the language or response anyone gives when responding to a complaint of that nature.

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      1. I think the reason the Committee isn’t asking for the messages between Murrell and Ruddick or calling McCann to give evidence is that:
        1) the Committee’s Terms of Reference have been written narrowly to only examine the Scottish Government’s actions which includes civil service employees like Leslie Evans and Judith MacKinnon; while
        2) Murrell et al as SNP employees are outside the Committee’s ToR and so the Committee doesn’t have grounds to call them to testify
        In fact I’m not sure on what basis they were able to require Peter Murrell to testify in the first place. With regard to Spads I recall reading that one of the complainants had participated in meetings with Alex and Aberdein without disclosing that she herself had made a complaint. This can only have been a Spad or a senior civil servant, I can guess which and who.

        This whole debacle is just further evidence that a judge-led Inquiry with some real teeth is required with a remit broad enough to encompass the SNP, SG, Rape Crisis Scotland, COPFS, Police and anyone else involved in the conspiracy to fit-up Alex.

        Unfortunately that’s likely to take a year or more and the election is just weeks away. The membership need to take back ownership of the SNP urgently. I suggest that the way to do that is for the members en masse to inform the MSPs, MPs, Councillors, NEC members and branch officials that they will boycott any fundraising for the HR election until the Murrells are gone. The SNP were stoney broke at 31/12/19 and probably not much better now. They can’t finance an election campaign without making an appeal for donations to the members. Without money or volunteers to campaign the MSPs are going to lose their seats so that might hopefully galvanise them into action against the Gang of Two.

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  17. In response to the committee deciding not to publish the COPFS evidence, some anonymous people claiming to be the anonymous people that wrote those messages have written about how much they are still victims (of no apparent crime?) and the messages were not collusion but a support group, via Rape Crisis Scotland:

    https://www.rapecrisisscotland.org.uk/blogs/news/1004/redir/

    Sorry about edging into sarcasm there – but if they still believe there is a case to answer, then they should appeal! And. Either all parties are anonymous, or none.

    The government probably believes this emotional blackmail card will put off the committee from asking for other evidence – I say it won’t affect the liklihood one iota; they can say ‘why don’t you tell us the evidence we need and we won’t make that’ mistake’ again’ – though we don’t and won’t know what the evidence shows, so it might be useful in some way – or they can say ‘woops, let’s try another lucky dip’, until COPFS hands over the whole lot.

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    1. Apologies for this being a long one: this is Daisy Walker’s response (posted on Wings) to the above RCS statement, and I think it’s a worthwhile viewpoint for anyone to read alongside the statement, hercomments are in Capitals to differntiate.

      “Daisy Walker says:
      2 February, 2021 at 7:18 pm

      Below is the statement issued by the Rape Crisis Centre.

      If is disgraceful. I’ll put the professional reasons why it is disgraceful in capitals as I work my way through it.

      Statement on the Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints
      Posted on February 2 2021

      Below is a statement from the women whose personal and private messages were requested by the Scottish Parliament’s “Salmond Committee” and were handed to the Committee by the Crown Office as part of a Section 23 Order for messages belonging to Sue Ruddick.

      In light of the decision taken by the Committee not to publish the messages received from the Crown Office under the Section 23 Order, we feel it is important that our voices are heard, where so far they have been secondary to the Committee’s inquiry.

      THE COMMITTE IS NOT INVESTIGATING THE WOMEN WHO MADE ALLEGATIONS – THOSE HAVE ALREADY BEEN INVESTIGATED FULLY AND SUBJECT TO A TRIAL AT HIGH COURT. THE PURPOSE OF THE ENQUIRY IS TO ASCERTAIN IF THE SCOT GOV CONDUCTED THEIR PART OF THE PROCESS CORRECTLY – OR WASTED VALUABLE TAX PAYERS MONEY.

      We are deeply disappointed that the Committee saw fit to request messages between people identified by the Police and the Crown as victims of sexual harassment, some of whose identities are protected by a court order. We have no doubt that members of the Committee knew that vulnerable witnesses were involved when they made the request.

      ‘PEOPLE IDENTIFIED BY THE POLICE AND THE CROWN AS VICTIMS OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT’ – LET US GET ONE THING ABSOLUTELY STRAIGHT, RIGHT JUST NOW, THE POLICE HAD A DUTY TO INVESTIGATE THE ALLEGATIONS MADE FULLY AND WITHOUT PREJUDICE, AND REPORT THEIR FINDINGS IN FULL TO THE PROCURATOR FISCAL. COPFS THEN HAD A DUTY, IF THERE WAS SUFFICIENCY OF EVIDENCE TO PRESENT THE PROSECUTION TO THE COURT.

      NEITHER INSTITUTION, CARRYING OUT THEIR DUTIES, IS IN ANY WAY, SHAPE OR FORM, THERE FOR THE PURPOSE OF VALIDATING THE STATUS OF ‘VICTIMS OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT’.

      FOR RAPE CRISIS CENTRE TO MISREPRESENT THE FUNCTION OF THE POLICE AND FISCAL SERVICE IN THIS WAY, IS A CORE DERELICTION OF DUTY, AND DOES A COMPLETE MIS-SERVICE TO THE VICTIMS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT, BY PROVIDING THEM WITH UNREALISTIC AND FALSE EXPECTATIONS OF WHAT THESE ORGANISATIONS ARE LEGALLY AND MORALLY TIED TO DO, AND WHAT THEY ARE NOT THERE TO DO.

      We are also deeply disturbed that the Crown has felt it appropriate to break the trust we placed in it. Having been let down by the Crown Office, we feel this unnecessary act will have done serious damage to progress made over the last few years in sexual assault cases. We urge the Crown to consider the grave consequences of their actions, and are actively considering further options.

      THE CROWN IS RELEASING THESE DOCUMENTS KICKING AND SCREAMING, BECAUSE THEY HAVE BEEN LAWFULLY REQUIRED TO DO SO.

      THE CROWN IS UNDER SERIOUS SCRUTINY FOR ALLEGATIONS OF CORRUPTION, IN PART STEMMING FROM THIS INCIDENT, AND ITS MAIN PLAYERS IN THE CROWN OFFICE AND CURRENT GOVERNMENT – WHICH THE ENQUIRY HAS BEEN SET UP TO LOOK INTO.

      Not a single one of these messages relates to the remit of the Committee or the Committee’s published approach to the inquiry. In short, what the Crown provided are personal communications between friends who supported each other during a traumatic time.

      EACH AND EVERY ONE OF THE COMPLAINERS IN THIS CASE WILL HAVE BEEN INSTRUCTED BY POLICE NOT TO TALK TO OTHER WITNESS / COMPLAINERS ABOUT THEIR PERCEIVED EXPERIENCE – BECAUSE THE CASE RELIED HEAVILY ON THE MOROOV DOCTRINE. A CORE PRINCIPLE OF WHICH RELIES ON THE WITNESSES BEING INDEPENDENT AND UNCONNECTED TO ONE ANOTHER.

      FORMING A SUPPORT GROUP AMONG ‘VICTIMS’ PRIOR TO THE TRIAL – COMPLETELY DESTROYS THE CREDIBILITY OF THEIR EVIDENCE. AND AS THE RAPE CRISIS CENTRE – YOU SHOULD BE HIGHLY AWARE OF THIS PRINCIPLE.

      POLICE WILL HAVE REFERED THESE WOMEN TO RAPE CRISIS CENTRE AND OTHER ‘PROFESSIONAL’ SERVICES. IN ENQUIRIES OF THIS NATURE, THAT’S WHAT THEY DO! ITS IN THEIR PROCEDURES! FOR THIS VERY REASON. SO THAT THEY HAD SUPPORT, AND THAT SUPPORT WAS EXPERIENCED, PROFESSIONAL AND COULD IN NO WAY BE ACCUSED OF COMPOMISING THE INTEGRITY OF THE EVIDENCE OR LEGAL PROCEEDINGS, OR WHATS THAT PHRASE… ‘TAITED BY APPARENT BIAS’.

      Comments made by members of the committee, passing judgement on the motivations of women, describing women’s communications as “fair game” and raising questions as to the genuine nature of the complaints made, have caused considerable distress since the Order was placed and do a disservice to all women who have made complaints of this nature.

      UNTIL YOUR HIGHLY REVEALING STATEMENT TODAY, NO-ONE PURSUING THIS TRAVESTY HAD ANY KNOWLEDGE THAT THE COMPLAINERS MESSAGES WERE PART OF WHAT WAS BEING REQUESTED.

      WELL DONE RCC – FOR REVEALING MORE OF THE CONSPIRACY. SO YOUR SENTENCE, ‘describing women’s communications as “fair game” IS MISLEADING, AND SHOULD READ ‘THE COMMUNICATIONS / FAIR GAME’.

      Each individual in the messages requested by the Committee experienced behaviour from Alex Salmond that was unacceptable and which either Police Scotland or the Crown Office considered potentially criminal.

      AND WHICH WENT TO FULL TRIAL AND AQUITTED ALEX SALMOND OF FULLY.

      A group chat, about which there has been much speculation, was simply a support group for women who had already shared their experiences with the Police. The selective quoting of messages by people with whom they should not have been shared has led to increasing pressure on the women involved.

      THE WOMEN WILL HAVE BEEN INSTRUCTED VERY CLEARLY BY POLICE SCOTLAND, AFTER THEY PROVIDED THEIR STATEMENTS OF COMPLAINT – NOT TO TALK TO OTHER MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC ABOUT IT, AND REFERRED TO PROFESSIONAL SUPPORT ORGANISATIONS WHERE THEY COULD DO SO SAFELY.

      These messages, had they been published, would show clearly that there was no conspiracy between women, but bonds of friendship and support.

      THE CASE AGAINST ALEX SALMOND RESTED HEAVILY ON THE MOROOV PRINCIPLE, A CORE PART OF WHICH IS THAT THE COMPLAINERS ARE NOT CONNECTED TO ONE ANOTHER. THE CREDIBILITY OF THEIR EVIDENCE RESTS ON THEIR BEING NO CHANCE FOR THEM TO TALK IN DEPTH ABOUT IT TO OTHER COMPLAINERS AND THUS BE ACCUSED OF INFLUENCING (EVEN UNCONSCIOUSLY) OR CONTAMINATING EACH OTHERS VERSION OF EVENTS.

      There is no manual as to what happens to you when you speak to the Police and they inform you that the actions you describe could be criminal. There’s no handbook that sets out whether or how you’ll be protected, what your rights are and what happens to your identity. There’s no immediate offer of support from a third party, someone who can help guide you through the process. That simply isn’t there. So you turn to your friends and colleagues for support.

      THIS IS ABSOLUTE LIEING BULLSHIT.

      ITS THE REASON YOU – THE RAPE CRISIS CENTRE, GET A SUBSTANTIAL AMOUNT OF PUBLIC MONEY AND WORK CLOSELY WITH THE POLICE. YOU ARE THE 3RD PARTY AND THE POLICE WILL HAVE SIGNPOSTED THE VICTIMS TO YOU, AND TO THE DOMESTIC ABUSE OFFICERS/ BERNARDOS, AND TO VICTIM SUPPORT.

      And when the person you have been asked by Police Scotland to give evidence about is someone who was and is a hugely powerful figure, there is comfort in knowing that you are not the only one going through that experience, you find support in solidarity.

      YOU FIND SUPPORT IN SOLIDARITY – YOU ALSO WILL HAVE BEEN TOLD NOT TO DO IT BECAUSE IT COMPROMISES EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOUR EVIDENTIAL STATEMENTS. IT LOOKS LIKE COLLUSION. IT MEANS THE JURY, HAVE GOT TO BE AT LEAST OPEN TO THE ALLEGATION OF COLLUSION, OF BIAS.

      THAT THE RAPE CRISIS CENTRE WOULD ISSUE SUCH A BLATENTLY MISGUIDED POINT OF VIEW, RAISES VERY SERIOUS QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR QUALIFICATIONS FOR THE JOB YOU CURRENTLY ARE IN.

      It is impossible to counter claims of conspiracy by those who selectively choose messages, without any context. These are private and personal communications which should not need to be in the public domain to prove a theory false or for complainers to be believed.

      NO, THESE MESSAGES ARE EVIDENCE, AND GIVEN THE WIDER CONCERNS ABOUT CORRUPTION AT THE HIGHEST LEVEL OF GOVERNMENT YOUR JUST GOING TO HAVE TO GET OVER YOURSELVES.

      That we work in politics should not prevent us from speaking honestly and truthfully to the Police or to each other, in fact it should compel us to do so, to live up to the values we believe in.

      We firmly believe that the Committee’s determination to gain sight of and publish these personal messages is yet another example of the behaviour that led Rape Crisis Scotland to write on behalf of the two complainers in the government investigation into Mr Salmond that;

      “They are deeply disappointed that the Committee continues to be insensitive to the fact that they are real people on the other side of this, and they are distressed that their painful personal experiences are being exploited for political purposes through the Committee’s inquiry.”

      Publication and discussion of private messages is a complete invasion of privacy and has already led to further distress, not only to us, but also to the other women involved in complaints against Mr Salmond, and those we turned to for support.

      The bullying and intimidation of complainers through use of their private and personal communications must end now.

      ANYONE KEEPING A WATCHING BRIEF ON THE INQUIRY WILL HAVE BEEN DECIDEDLY UNDERWHELMED BY THE TOOTHLESS TIGERS THEY APPEAR TO BE. ACCUSING THEM OF BULLYING AND INTIMIDATION OF THE COMPLAINERS IS SOPHISTRY OF THE MOST PATHETIC KIND. PARTICULARLY AS THEIR COURT ORDERED ANONIMITY IS STILL IN FORCE.

      Sandy Brindley, Chief Executive of Rape Crisis Scotland said:

      “In amongst the noise and politics of this committee inquiry the experiences of the women who reported their experiences has been side-lined, manipulated and exploited by some for political and personal gain. This is completely unacceptable.

      Survivors often tell us that they fear disclosing their experiences because people may not believe them, that there will be repercussions from the person responsible or others, and if they report they fear their lives will be scrutinised and torn apart. It’s difficult to see this entire situation as anything other than a manifestation of many survivors’ worst fears on a magnified, national scale.

      The remit of this inquiry is clear and both the request for these private messages and the decision of the Crown to provide them is unjust and irrelevant to the work of the committee.

      YOU ARE NOT QUALIFIED TO DECIDE THIS, THE EVIDENCE REQUESTED HAS BEEN DONE SO, LAWFULLY.

      Survivors are entitled to privacy

      INTERSTING USE OF THE WORD ‘SURVIVORS’ I’LL REMIND YOU THAT ALEX SALMOND WAS FULLY AQUITTED OF ALL CHARGES. BUT LEAVING THAT ASIDE, THE COURT ORDER OF ANONIMITY FOR THE COMPLAINERS IS STILL ACTIVE.

      and we are deeply concerned about the precedent this sets going forward,

      MANY OF US ARE CONCERNED ABOUT THE PRECEDENT THIS SETS, INCLUDING THE BIGGER PICTURE, THAT IT BECOMES A METHOD OF MAKING FALSE ALLEGATIONS AGAINST A COLLEAGUE WITH NOLEGAL CONSEQUENCE FOR THE PERPETRATORS, AND A MEANS OF CONTINUING TO BESMIRCH THE CHARACTER OF A PERSON FOUND NOT GUILTY AND FULLY AQUITTED AT A TRIAL BY A JURY OF HIS PEERS.

      and the impact that this public conversation is having right now on anyone who has experienced any form of sexual harassment, abuse or assault.

      I HAVE BEEN THE VICTIM OF SEXUAL ASSAULT, I AM FEMALE, I AM ALSO A TAXPAYER, AND AN INTELLIGENT PROFESSIONAL, AND A PERSON WHO BELIEVES IN LAW AND ORDER. I AM ALSO FULLY AWARE THAT WOMAN CAN BE JUST AS CORRUPT AS MEN. YOU DO NOT SPEAK FOR ME.

      The focus of this inquiry should be on organisational accountability and capturing any possible learning for improved responses going forward. Far greater care needs to be taken to avoid worsening the intimidation and harassment of the women involved in this case.”

      INTIMIDATION AND HARASSMENT ARE CLEARLY DEFINED UNDER SCOTTISH CRIMINAL LAW – I ASSUME YOU WILL BE SUBSTANTIATING THESE ALLEGATIONS AND SUPPORTING THE COMPLAINERS AS THEY CONTACT THE POLICE AND MAKE FORMAL COMPLAINTS OF THESE CRIMES.

      OR ARE YOU JUST BANDING ABOUT INFLAMATORY LANGUAGE ONCE AGAIN.

      SANDLY BRINDLAY – THAT YOU HAVE RELEASED THE ABOVE STATEMENT TODAY, SHOWS THAT YOU ARE COMPLETELY INCOMPETENT TO BE EMPLOYED IN ANY CAPACITY WITH RAPE CRISIS CENTRE.

      YOUR ERRONOUS ADVICE TO COMPLAINERS OF SEXUAL CRIMES IS LIKELY TO CAUSE UNNECCESSARY MISUNDERSTANDING AND DISTRESS.

      YOUR LACK OF UNDERSTANDING ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF THE MOROOV DOCTRINE AND THE ROLE OF INDEPENDENT SUPPORT ADVOCACY SERVICES – IF PASSED ON TO COMPLAINERS HAS THE REAL CAPACITY TO SEE SERIOUS CRIMINAL SEX OFFENCE TRIALS COMPROMISED TO THE POINT OF FAILURE.

      IT REVEALS A SHOCKING LEVEL OF IGNORANCE OF YOUR PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITIES AND IS DEEPLY, DEEPLY CONCERNING.”

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  18. The obvious question is why did the Committee not just ask for all the messages/documentation the Crown Office hold.

    Where does this leave Salmond re what he can say next week?

    The Scotgov funded Rape Crisis Scotland (Brindley) are a disgrace.

    SNP/Scotgov people working with the Britnat media to attack Salmond.

    Not a word about Murray’s trial and his affidavit on the BBC/STV.

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    1. I wonder if there is anyone out there who can make sense of why the Enquiry Committee only asked to see messages from the women, knowing that they would be handpicked by COPFS to provoke the scripted over-reaction from NS rabble rousers such as Brindley? Is Fabiani taking the piss or is it COPFS?

      Surely all messages would be of interest especially Mr Murrell ….

      Will the smoke ever clear ?

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  19. Cubby, I’m hoping, just hoping, that, for the first point, the committee is just using this one to set a precedent – ask for some evidence they’re happy to hand over because it’s useless (so we are told), then go to them with another request – what argument could COPFS have for not handing it over? They have likely delayed too long, but we can wait and see. Doubt Salmond will be able to say much otherwise, and a fairly pointless exercise have him being interviewed in that case – they’ve received all the written submissions, what do they want him to say? He was treated like shit?? I certainly hope this isn’t a planned exercise in trying to humiliate him further.

    It’s a mess.

    Craig Murray did say that he didn’t expect reporting on his affidavit – can’t remember why, legal stuff that makes it risky for anyone. I get the feeling there are gagging orders or D-notices on all media outlets, for some aspects of the affair, I hope they are sure it’s in the public interest, not that we’ll ever get to know.

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    1. I wonder if there has been a very clever manoeuvre by Mr Murray and Mr Salmond. I wonder if delaying his appearance was all about waiting until Mr Murray could publicise his evidence under legal privilege, thus enabling Mr Salmond to refer to matters already on the public record rather than held in secret by the COPFS?

      And a great contribution from Iain Lawson today:

      https://yoursforscotlandcom.wordpress.com/2021/02/03/you-want-justice-do-you/

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      1. Ohhh, very interesting speculation GeeK. I thought it was a clever move by Craig producing and publishing the affidavit in itself. But now you put 2 and 2 together for me,,, that does seem nicely coordinated!

        I always considered that Alex Salmond would always tread carefully, politically and legally, (and that Nicola Sturgeon was very naive to think she was on a par with his political skill, but who’d have thought she’d have the British State backing her up) – and that any delays he made had very good reasons behind them. Yes, they just might have played this very well – maybe not as ideal as having the evidence released, (or all of the perpetrators prosecuted and in jail for that matter, without any need for all these show trials), but the next best thing.

        Yes, I saw Iain’s excellent post – he really has developed a good blog with a wide range of subjects – I couldn’t help ranting on about ‘legal advice’ of course!

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      2. Even better news, or some reassurance, from Wings today:

        “It’s well known that the Crown Office has pulled out all the stops either to withhold evidence from Mr Salmond and his lawyers entirely, or to prevent him from producing it under threat of prosecution. But this site has been told by a source very close to Alex Salmond that ****every single claim of material fact made in his written evidence is supported by documentary evidence that can legally be shown to the inquiry****.

        When she appears before the committee the following week, Nicola Sturgeon will not be able to deny any material aspect of the submission, or wave it away as a “conspiracy theory”, because every line of it is documented fact and Salmond will have produced the documents to prove it.”

        Alex has submitted evidence on the judicial review – published on the committee’s written evidence page.

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  20. Cubby! You will be interested to hear that Linda Fabiani has sent a letter asking the Lord Advocate exactly how the redactions are done, she also asks him:

    “Sharing of the Investigating Officer’s Report

    Turning to the Scottish Government’s decision to send the final investigating officer’s report to the COPFS, the Committee would be grateful for any further information / explanation of this decision, including whether you had any involvement and whether you can provide your view on the deliberations that informed this decision. The Committee also seeks any further information / explanation, including from your perspective on the investigating officer’s final report being offered to the Police as evidence.”

    The also seem to be interested in the validity of the legal advice on that decision.

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  21. i understand that as the Craig Murray case is still sub judice – there has been a hearing but the Court hasn’t decided – we and others are not supposed to be discussing it. I think it would be contempt of court.

    Gordon, is that correct?

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  22. Heres a good podcast interview of Mark Hirst:

    https://html5-player.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/17750231/theme/custom/height/480/width/640/menu/no/tdest_id/1671293

    He talks in general terms about the conspiracy, interesting background stuff, and the corruption – emphasising how deep it goes. And, of course, he mentions how fabulous Gordon Dangerfield’s blog is. (Gordon, I hope you aren’t going to be so busy for too much longer, my imagination is running riot with all the nefarious things you could be up to!)

    I can’t help wondering at what he means about how deep it goes – all the surface level stuff is shocking, and each new thing we discover is horrific, and I thought I had an idea of the extent, without any details of course, but I can’t speculate on what I think the extent is, so it’s a waste of time me asking – is it even worse than that??

    I know most people now think the entire harassment committee inquiry is pure whitewash (Mark Hirst doesn’t!), but I still have some faith that something will come out of it – at the lowest end of my expectations is a judge led inquiry… Well, we’ll wait and see – a suspension of the civil servants involved would be good, and I hope for better than that. Hah, a sad thing: to actually want the SNP leadership to be gone – it’s not going to change by itself though, and we really can’t tolerate this level of corruption – that they even THOUGHT they could get away with it. And still think there’s a hope they can – this can’t be left to fester.

    I still believe, too, that if the problems with government and the SNP are *seen* to be fixed, most of the reputational damage can be mitigated – it shows we have the resilience needed to not be like Westminster, hopefully demonstrating some maturity and realism. Good practice for being independent!

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  23. If anyone is still popping in here, can you help me out by giving me some reasonable guesses at what these redactions might be – I just mean under what category you think it might be, & I’ll give you the context afterwards ,,,

    “A number of individuals have been identified as witnesses for interview – [redacted] [ redacted ]. There is also a suggestion that the names of [redacted] [redacted ] could be provided, but…”

    The doubling up of redactions is because in the email it goes across two lines (so each double will be two or more words).

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      1. That much is obvious, what do you mean by “category”, please?

        Any idea,Contrary, why Evans chose COPFS rather than the cops? She must have expected help in pushing forward a prosecution. From whom?

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      2. Probably handed to the Crown Office (with friendly Crown Agent agent) to make it more likely the police would accept her ‘evidence’ – they didn’t anyway, of course, because the police do their own investigations! And the SG should have never done their own in the first place. It might have been to try and speed up the process – Crown Agent ‘indicates’ that the case will be prosecuted whatever they find,,, and hands it over to them.

        Imagine if the police just accepted all their findings without question then realised (got caught) later, that the LE/JM investigation was carried out in such an atrocious manner as to be unlawful? They’d be in trouble, more trouble.

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    1. Hi Sam,

      Thanks for the guesses, definitely witnesses. As you’ve probably read below now – this is Judith Mackinnon writing to the witnesses for the complainants, speculating on who the witnesses for the defendant (Salmond) might be!

      I realised after putting it in date order, that she didn’t have the names at the time of this email, so must have been speculating here. She later informs these witnesses for the complainants that she has the 4 names for Alex Salmond’s witnesses.

      I still can’t comprehend why an impartial Investigation Officer would be:

      (a) passing on these details to witnesses,
      (b) directly in contact with witnesses except in official interview,
      (c) able to think herself able to carry out interviews of the defendants witnesses after this level of contact, or
      (d) capable of thinking this was fair and reasonable.

      Any thoughts on how this fits in with normal procedure or ACAS guidelines?!

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    2. Record keeping: FN35 (batch2) INV638 Gives the first part of the text that must have been copy/pasted into the emails to witnesses (why the redactions above, when not here?). In the email to complainers on 27th April 2018, additional text is where JM offers mediation for the first time.

      Timeline for mediation:
      23rd Apr: AS offers mediation in telephone call to FM. L&M offer mediation to LE (email/letter). (Strange ‘no update’ email from JM to witnesses INV466, 476, 500)
      24th Apr: LE refuses mediation (source L&M)
      26th Apr: L&M query LE’s refusal, and again offer mediation.
      27th Apr: JM consults complainers about mediation (for first time, and does not know what it would involve,,,):

      “On Fri, Apr 27, 2018 at 12:10 PM, wrote: Dear [Ms B]

      A letter was received last night (26 April from the FFM, via his solicitor. A reply will issue next week after further consideration.

      The letter included specific responses to some of the incidents raised but not all of them. A number of individuals have been identified as witnesses for interview – not currently employed by SG. There is also a suggestion that the names of current civil servants could be provided as witnesses, but assurance around confidentiality is sought.

      Overall, the position is that most of the factual content of the causes for concern is disputed. He denies that he ever harassed any civil servant. The fairness of the procedure is also disputed.

      FFM’s solicitors have repeated their offer of mediation. Mediation is an informal way in which to try to resolve a dispute between parties. It would be helpful to know if this is something you would be prepared to engage with, at any stage. I can’t provide much more information on what might be involved or what a successful outcome might look like as we don’t have any detail of this. It is proposed that it might involve FFM, a mediator and you talking in an informal session about the complaint. Mediation would not replace the formal process, but any outcome could be referred to by the Perm Sec in her final decisions. Whatever your decision, we would provide the appropriate support for you.

      If you could consider, perhaps over the weekend, and let me know early next week – that would be helpful.

      The reply will set out intended timelines for the next stage, which I will share with you once they have been confirmed.

      In the meantime take care. Best wishes
      Judith “

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  24. No worries about the above, I didn’t think there would be enough traffic here to get a response any time soon (and there is so much happening these days). I keep accidentally writing bits of information elsewhere, which is annoying, because then I’m not keeping things recorded in one place (yes, while Gordon is away I’m using his blog just to keep a record of all my notes, or trying to). So I’m going to copy this bit for posterity:

    I think it’s just the James Hamilton submission [that the committee has dismissed] – Alex Salmond gave it to the committee too – the one that has problems with how many redactions it needs. All his other submissions to the enquiry should still be getting considered – it just hobbles how much he can say about events if he’s not allowed to refer to it,,, though if he’s asked a question on it, and the submission has already previously been published, I can’t see how he can be prosecuted if he verbally gives the same info as what happens to be in the submission,,, if that makes sense,,, [and there is a fair amount of information repeated over other submissions].

    One point that Alex raised, that the James Hamilton inquiry had originally been given the remit by the SG to investigate if the FM interfered with a civil service procedure and so broke the ministerial code,,, the thing is, it’s the other way round – if the process was being handled unlawfully and she DIDN’T interfere, then she WOULD have broken the ministerial code. The original remit was a bogey.

    The Procedure itself can’t have been lawful, as far as I can see, but also, in the handling the complaints – the actual way the procedure was used – was in no way lawful – I think ‘unfair’ and ‘tainted by apparent bias’ is the understatement of the century, just from what I’ve read so far. We also know, from Alex’s testimony, that NS was fully aware of the status of the process on the 2nd of April 2018 – well before it was complete – so she SHOULD have intervened if she’d been following the ministerial code.

    ————-

    And part of what I’ve read so far is the above extract where I’m curious about the redactions. It’s from one of Judith Mackinnon’s emails to the witnesses – yes witnesses, not the complainants – who she is keeping updated through the process. I have lots to say on what I’ve read in the Levy & McRae letters to Leslie Evans, which give enough clues to the contents of her letters which she’s claiming legal privilege for not showing us, but I decided to look at the SG submission to guide me on what to look at next, and spotted one paragraph that said that the Investgating Officer (IO) kept the WITNESSES up to date throughout. I wasn’t sure what this meant – but I knew 4 witnesses had been interviewed for the complainants (MsA and MsB) between the 19th and 30th of January by Judith Mackinnon – the, ahem, impartial IO.

    It’s hard the distinguish who was getting what email, and their presentation of records is atrocious so it’s all jumbled up, but each email within the submissions FN26 and FN28 have ‘INVxxx’ references on them. All emails are to [redacted], not even a 1,2,3,4 after, but one or two of the emails have responses attached – 4 different ways of saying ‘thanks judith’ and the seperate reference numbers, and the repitition of the same email content, indicates at least 4 separate people receiving these ‘update’ emails. All the emails have as a subject heading either ‘update’ or ‘No update’, or in one case ‘Handover’ (while she goes off on holidays).

    Although the emails aren’t particularly detailed, as far as I can see she is sending them legally privileged information from Alex Salmond’s solicitor’s letters AND confidential information from Leslie Evans communications – emails not detailed, but handing over far too much information that could never be warranted by those witnesses ever needing to know.

    I don’t want to get too outraged until Gordon gives his opinion on how this fits in with how witnesses would normally be treated (I wouldn’t have thought an impartial IO would be in any way in contact with witnesses except in view of obtaining information – remembering she was also tasked with contacting Alex Salmond’s witnesses and had sole rights over deciding what to ask them, and Alex wasn’t even allowed to know what responses they gave, let alone have input into what they were asked). So until Gordon is freed up to give us his voice of reason I’m going to have to stay thoroughly outraged.

    It’s within these emails that Judith Mackinnon reveals that Leslie Evans planned to meet the complainers (third-person, so these emails definitely were not to the complainers) – which is why Evans had to make that admission to the committee, a ‘very brief meeting’ as though that makes it okay that she has lied about it up until then (that she didn’t know who they were blah blah). These emails are dated 27th Feb and Judith tells 4 seperate WITNESSES that the “Perm Sec is meeting with the complainers early next week” (INV511, INV456, INV663 and INV431 are the refs). LE met one complainer face to face on the 5th or 6th or 7th of March 2018.

    I’ll just pick out a couple of things, you can check them out yourself for the general idea of JM revealing too much – it’s only when taken in context, that she’s writing to WITNESSES and that seemingly repeated material are in fact entirely separate communications, that you appreciate there is anything interesting in them. There is no guarantee of confidentiality given to the witnesses at any time, in fact they are told how to deal with the media and any other contact frequently.

    The extract above, is from emails sent to WITNESSES by the IO, Judith Mackinnon, on the 27th of April 2018 (INV462, INV438, INV483, INV504, INV434 – I’m not sure why there are 5 references here). It seems to be telling the complainers’ WITNESSES about Alex Salmond’s request for witnesses, and maybe even saying WHO they are. The redactions above, to me, indicate they are names (though see below) – or a category of person and so identifying them in some way – and she is happily chatting away about this confidential information to witnesses!

    For an impartial investigating officer ‘only gathering facts’, she seems to be heavily invested in ensuring only one side of the picture is kept informed, and is biased against the other side. Can anyone answer me on whether or not there would be any conceivable valid reason an IO would be revealing privileged and confidential information to witnesses?

    It is possible the Judicial Review was conceded before this evidence came to light – the Commission on Diligence was only half way through squeezing the obviously damaging evidence out of the SG when they conceded.

    On the 15th on May (2 emails sent) and 30th of May (2 emails sent) Judith Mackinnon informs the witnesses “I have been provided the names of 4 witnesses” from the FFM (Alex Salmond), and then that she still interviewing them. I can’t envisage any situation where other witnesses need to know this, and certainly not from the impartial IO.

    On the 18th July 2018 JM informs the WITNESSES (for the complainants remember, not all the witnesses) that she’s submitted her final report to the Perm Sec (on that day), and that a FOI has been submitted re:complaints – and gives advice on who to contact if it becomes public.

    In general, overall, there is nothing to indicate that LE or JM cared much for confidentiality for anyone.

    I just find the whole thing shocking – that these professional, highly paid civil servants, would behave in such a cowboy manner and think that ‘I followed legal advice’ is going to cover the degree of mishandling – and there is no way this wasn’t on purpose, they aren’t incompetent – that’s in evidence. As I said, ‘unfair’ etc is the biggest understatement of the century, and I think ‘impartial’ NEEDS the inverted commas when applied to the IO, Judith Mackinnon.

    They shouldn’t have been investigating in the first place – that’s the police’s job – there shouldn’t have ever been such a supposed ‘workplace’ procedure created in the first place, there are plenty of other ways to deal with such situations not a legal nightmare – and the questions around what was the Perm Sec’s role – surely in undertaking the Procedure she was acting as a minister (although that’s a minor thing compared to what she actually did with that power). It is very obvious, even from a cursory glance, that the SG should never have undertaken the investigation at all, they didn’t have the right staff or skills to do it. No way legal advice said it was fine.

    Alex Salmond’s submissions bring to light a couple of interesting things, around the 23rd August 2018 events – the leaking of info and the judicial review. One is that there were TWO separate leaks – one to David Clegg that there were complaints, then a later one on the 25th of Aug to David Clegg detailing one part of LE’s Decision Report, detailing one complaint.

    The other point made was that LE’s original press release statement was worded to conceal the fact that the procedure was published a month AFTER the complaints were made – the wording of the statement was changed later (to focus on the sign-off date in Dec 2017).

    Why didn’t LE report the complaints directly to the police, as the Procedure dictated, I think will be a crucial point.

    There are loads of things I want to say about the Levy & McRae letters, but I had wanted to get a bit more context before commenting. As usual, there are so many layers, so much context, it’s hard to keep everything in mind. I’ll go over the Levy & McRae info soon though, so the rest has that context – I didn’t expect the SG submissions to be as revealing to tell the truth.

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    1. Are these emails published by the Harrassment Inquiry and do you have a link?

      I think Mackinon is using the word “witness” to refer to the complainants because subconsciously she is thinking of them as witnesses in future proceedings against Salmond. Remember that in the criminal trial none of the allegations were corroborated by an independent witness as Scots law requires and that was why they were relying on the Moorov Doctrine on the basis of if you throw enough mud some of it will stick. So MacKinnon had to be emailing the complainants with details of Salmond’s responses. It’s as if the witnesses for the prosecution could read the defence witnesses’ evidence beforehand and tailor their own testimony accordingly. No wonder the JR found it was biased and unfair.

      Regarding the events of 23rd August I think there was just the one leak as I don’t think the leaker would risk meeting David Clegg after it was known he was sniffing around. I think Clegg already had all or part of JMcK’s report when he phoned that afternoon asking for comment. I haven’t seen what was published on the DR website at 10pm but I imagine it was just enough to preempt an injunction without risking a defamation suit. It probably then took 24 hours for the DR’s lawyers to vet the detailed story, hence publication on the 25th. BTW I’m very sure the leak came from Sturgeon’s office.

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    2. Stuartm99,

      What makes you think Mackinnon used the word ‘witness’? And on what basis do you make those assumptions on what she means?

      And again you say you ‘think’ there was only one leak – what evidence do you have to qualify that? You “don’t think the leaker would risk,,” – I have no idea on what your basing that assumption, have you even read any of that evidence?

      I gave all the references anyone needs above – why are you asking if they’re published by the committee? I’m ONLY looking at what’s published, those are their and the Scottish Government references, and I said so above. If you are having problems finding the website this is the one for evidence on the handling phase:

      https://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/CurrentCommittees/116692.aspx

      And this is the paragraph from the Scottish Government submission that references the emails:

      “22. In addition to the interviews with Ms A and Ms B, the investigation also included formal interviews with four other witnesses between 19 and 30 January 2018 followed by further contact to confirm statements27. These four witnesses were kept up to date as the remainder of the investigation progressed28. ”

      The SG wrote ‘witness’, not Mackinnon, and I’m not sure it could be any clearer as a simple chain of evidence.

      Feel free to actually read some of the submissions before making up total mince about what you think. They had no intention of taking it to a criminal trial (we have already had that conversation) and there is no evidence to suggest that was the case – so on what basis are you making those assumptions about Mackinnons motivations? None of what you say makes any sense or fits with any of the evidence.

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      1. Thanks for the link, Contrary.

        This bit para 9 seems interesting. It can’t be a mistake, do you think, that the submission claims the Perm Sec’s decision was sent to the police. The knowledge that it was not sent to the police but COPFS would be a good reason for not releasing any press statement.That leak to the DR was also helpful in making a press release unnecessary. Who was doing the PR at the time, do you know?

        “9. This observation of the Code[Civil Service] included taking advice regarding her decisions on behalf of the Scottish Government that 3 of the incidences should be referred to the Police and to make a limited public statement to
        have included basic factual information that complaints had been made and of the investigation and the decision. However, as explained in paragraph 42 of this statement, that limited public statement was not issued. …

        42. However, late in the evening of 23 August 2018, reports appeared in online media55 that the former First Minister was the subject of complaints made by members of Scottish Government staff dating back to the period of time when he had been First Minister56. That night the former First Minister issued a statement to the media about the media reports. Public statements were then made by the Scottish Government in response to those media reports and the former First Minister’s statement and the intended limited public statement referred to in paragraph 41 was not issued57.”

        .

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      2. Yes, para 9 is interesting (I haven’t got to para 42 yet 😀 ) in a couple of ways – we’ve now found out that ‘the complaints were handed over to the police’ has been obfuscation, and has been – innocently, of course – maintained all along. The SG here seem to be just keeping up the charade, as it was produced before the relevance of it being passed to the Crown Office came to light. And that goes against what the procedure says to do – in trying to claim the procedure is lawful, so they stuck to it to the letter – so can claim their absolute confidence in it – they now have to say they DIDNT do one part – under legal advice,,, oh dear,,, so maybe it wasn’t legal then?!

        I don’t think they’d have seen the Crown Office/ police reporting as a reason to not produce the statement though, as it was easily covered up: 23rd Aug was a very complex day with lots of manoeuvring. I think the SG were panicking a lot around this time – the police, of course, wanted everything kept quiet while they investigated, and then Alex Salmond said he was petitioning for an interdict (to keep everything confidential). The actions of the SG make sense when you consider them under the assumption that their main aim was to make the complaints public, and to give them credence.

        So, perhaps, the SG panicked when they realised the liklihood of losing a judicial Review (if we assume that they knew the case was, at this time, not winnable but at least stateable) on the 20th or 21st of Aug, so they put the complaints to the Crown Office, thinking it would move things along quicker and the criminal investigation would overshadow any JR – probably not even thinking about how it would be kept confidential by the police – as Gordon says, this doesn’t look planned, but was a knee-jerk reaction to legal events overtaking them.

        Alex Salmond moved very quickly on receiving LE’s Decision Report on the 22nd Aug – but they’d been warned all along it would happen, if they persisted, and had already been given all the likely arguments that would be in the petition, so it must have been the interdict that was a surprise to the SG, that caused the panic. And the SG played it – they informed L&M (Salmond’s solicitors) they were planning to make a statement at 5pm on the 23rd of Aug 2018, L&M immediately replied they were petitioning the court for an interim interdict (until the JR was accepted), so the SG had to hold off making a statement that day. At 6.34pm that evening L&M tells the SG they couldn’t get an interdict that evening. It was too late for the SG to put out a statement by then, so then we get this later frantic series of calls and emails from David Clegg (Liz Lloyd of government employment’s pal) saying there was a leak and he was going to publish, which he did.

        The SG, or an interested party, managed to get the information out there anyway, in that small window of opportunity (legally speaking). Morally, of course, there shouldn’t have been anything made public at that time.

        Head of Communications was Barbara Allison, she of the Pastoral Care role, who took Ms B’s complaint, and who is John Somer’s line manager. John Somers who is principle private secretary to the FM, deals with security, and is best pals with Liz Lloyd and one of Leslie Evans’ private secretaries. It is likely Barbara Allison was in charge of what went out in public, but there would have been a host of people involved so not sure there.

        But yes, the Daily Record report made the original announcement by Leslie Evans moot, and they had to revise to make it a confirmation rather than an announcement.

        The SG, or interested parties, obviously thought that wasn’t good enough – now with the police investigation being confidential and an interdict in place for confidentiality, there was a second leak on some shocking details made on the 25th Aug to horrify the general public, via David Clegg. David Clegg who I believe now has a job with the SNP? Merely a coincidence, of course, and in no way could be thought of as a reward for services rendered.

        Para 42 there is trying to imply the SG’s original statement was going to be so much less damaging, and none of it was their fault, of course, Salmond shouldn’t have tried to stop them. Even though they shouldn’t have been considering a statement at all.

        Para 9 also has the interesting piece of information that there were THREE incidents handed to ‘the police’. We know of only two complainers – but this 3 could include two complaints by one person – rather than 3 people, so I’m just keeping it in mind rather than thinking there’s any import in it.

        There were a list of allegations, as handed to Alex Salmond, A to K (yes more letters to contend with), which I assume comes from Judith Mackinnons reports. Whether these cover different aspects of each complaint, or seperate incidents, we don’t exactly know. L&M had a particular problem with Allegations J & K: they were not attributed to particular complainers, so weren’t competent under the procedure para 2, they lacked specifics of time, place and indentities of alleged victims (procedural unfairness). Haha – Leslie Evans expected a response on allegations but wouldn’t say when, where or to whom the alleged incident happened! Those were the most ridiculous. The ‘procedural unfairness’ alluded to by L&M frequently on all aspects of what LE and JM were doing, and of the procedure itself, seems to have a lot of merit.

        In the procedure for current ministers, they include ‘mediation’ as an option – but this is excluded from the procedure for former ministers – why?!

        Right from the very start LE refused to allow Alex Salmond access to any government records (e.g. His diaries from when he was FM) or any access to staff, and refused to allow him a choice in what to ask his own witnesses he could name but not speak to, and refused to allow him to see any of the responses given – JM was to be the sole decision maker and arbiter of what facts to collect, how to collect it and what to present as evidence – and we see above just how much she couldn’t be relied on to be impartial. If that’s fair,,,

        All the L&M letters make it clear that Leslie Evans was constantly threatening to make the whole thing public. That she would have “statutory obligations including those in relation to Parliament and FOI legislation” and so wasn’t going to guarantee confidentiality – L&M had to quote a mass of legal Acts and provisions at her to get any kind of capitulation – this took so long, no wonder L&M were getting so alarmed, and that one of the first things they did was seek an interdict before going to JR.

        You can tell from the correspondence that it was expected from the start that the SG would behave in a fair and reasonable manner, in a way dictated by their codes of conduct – just as Lord Pentland expected it – and it was only a gradual realisation they weren’t going to get it – just as Lord Pentland didn’t think a Commission on Diligence was required for a start, but hastily had to call one when he realised the SG were not going to be up front.

        I think I’ve rambled enough! As I said, this part has the most to it – and likely the most condemning too. It’ll take a while to get everything in context.

        Like

  25. Contrary, there would have been a reason why the referral was to COPFS rather than police. It may have been simply that sending it to Harvie initially meant that control of it would stay with him.

    Because the procedure said the referral should go to the police the SG has sought to cover up the fact that it did not. This is how the DR describes what it did.

    https://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/politics/alex-salmond-sex-assault-allegations-13130521

    The DR says that the initial interest in Salmond in October 2017 was generated by a tip off.

    The DR repeats the lie that the SG had decided to pass on two complaints by women against Salmond to police. This lie originates for sure with the SG and is likely, isn’t it, to come with the tip off about the complaint. The stuff about an intended press release, later cancelled, is malarkey.

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  26. Record keeping: to ask Gordon later of the full import and implications of this comment:

    “The most senior judges in Scotland, the Court of Session agree. In their submission to the Calman Commission 2008/09 they said that the Scottish Government minister the Lord Advocate should not also be the head of the prosecution system (see Calman Report). Calman said it was not his job to deal with this when his brief said that it was. The judges continued contrary to the law and the constitution. Our approach to justice was in effect made unlawful across Europe in 1953 with the binding European Convention on Human Rights, ECHR. This is unaffected by Brexit. The devolution act, the Scotland Act 1998 ,made its one compulsory, legal requirement and that the Parliament including its ministers comply with ECHR..

    Unlike the rest of the UK, and most of the world, here it is the government that controls the justice system. It is run by two government ministers, (Lord Advocate and Solicitor General) a ministerial-led government department- the Crown Office, staffed by government officers. The government unlawfully directs police investigations. The government controls both the judicial processes and the content, (evidence). Rather than the legally-required independent judiciary ours is fundamentally and extensively dependent on the government of the day, whoever that is.

    This is not a lawful justice system. The patient safety group ASAP-NHS has had to refer the matter to the UK Supreme Court as there is no independent judiciary here to deal with it. Our justice system was created by the Scottish law officers who drafted the Scotland Act 1998 that was fundamentally unlawful and unconstitutional.. With the political imperative to secure devolution, the Bill was rushed through Westminster without the proportionate scrutiny required when creating a parliament.

    The Alex Salmond case is the most visible demonstration of what is a justice system in the process of collapsing. There are a number of current issues to show that this now happening. The justice system could vanish at any time and in any number of ways. Today ASAP-NHS provided a report on this to both Holyrood and Westminster.

    Solutions are available going forwards but not so for the legacy of twenty-one years of an unlawful justice system.”

    https://yoursforscotlandcom.wordpress.com/2021/02/05/letter-of-the-week-from-jim-sillars/#comment-7924

    Like

  27. Statement by Anne Harvey, Principal Assistant to the Chief Whip, SNP Westminster Group

    I am the Principal Assistant to the Chief Whip with the Scottish National Party, based at Westminster. I am by background a solicitor admitted in Scotland, and remain on the roll of members of the Law Society of Scotland. I have been actively involved with the SNP since February 1974.

    I am saddened to read today’s media statement by Susan Ruddick, Chief Operating Officer of the SNP. As a result, I am now making this statement. I feel compelled to do so to set the record straight.

    Ms Ruddick’s statement suggested an act of physical aggression by Mr Salmond. I know that to be wrong since I was the only witness to this supposed event.

    She is referring to an incident in the Glenrothes by-election in which we campaigned together. We were ‘door-knocking’ and leafletting in a block of flats during a media event. Alex walked past Sue in the stairwell of a close. He brushed past her on the stairwell as he was heading to leave the close. I saw and heard nothing which caused me any alarm or concern. I was only yards away.

    This is the incident she is referring to, but I can categorically confirm that there was no physical aggression on the part of Mr Salmond. Any contact at all between him and her that day was absolutely inadvertent and in no way deliberate or aggressive. To put this into context, before lockdown, I would see similar contact between MPs as they make their way to the voting lobby during the division bell.

    I know this because the police questioned me extensively about it and, furthermore, I am aware no further action was taken against Mr Salmond. That is because it simply did not happen as described by Sue Ruddick.

    This complaint was only made to the police after Mr Salmond pursued the Scottish Government in his judicial review, ten years later.

    I should also say that I was at the time close friends with Sue. I was staying at her house. I was in the car with her to and from the event and I know that, for other unrelated reasons which I won’t disclose, she was upset that day before and after the event.

    More generally, there have been discussion again today about whether there was a conspiracy against Mr Salmond. I have believed for some time that there was what I described in writing on 28 August 2018 as a ‘witch-hunt’ against him after receiving what I considered to be an improper request from SNP HQ seeking to damage Mr Salmond.

    I have offered to provide a detailed affidavit along with the contents of this statement to Mr Salmond’s lawyers.

    Anne Harvey 8 February 2021“

    Like

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