A VERY SCOTTISH COUP (PART ONE)

Let me be clear, as the First Minister herself likes to say.

I don’t think Nicola Sturgeon was being truthful when she made this statement to the Scottish Parliament on 10 January 2019 about the complaints against Alex Salmond:

“I did not know how the Scottish Government was dealing with the complaint, I did not know how the Scottish Government intended to deal with the complaint and I did not make any effort to find out how the Scottish Government was dealing with the complaint or to intervene in how the Scottish Government was dealing with the complaint.”

I think it’s inconceivable that Nicola Sturgeon did not know of the complaints against Alex Salmond as soon as they were made in November 2017.

I think it’s inconceivable that Nicola Sturgeon did not then direct personally the development of the unlawful procedure which was devised by her civil servants specifically to target Alex Salmond.

And I think it’s inconceivable that Nicola Sturgeon was not closely involved in the unlawful handling by her civil servants of the complaints against Alex Salmond from the moment they were made.

I therefore think that Nicola Sturgeon has committed a flagrant breach of this most basic requirement of the Ministerial Code:

“It is of paramount importance that Ministers give accurate and truthful information to the Parliament…. Ministers who knowingly mislead the Parliament will be expected to offer their resignation….”

I think that the First Minister should have resigned a long time ago.

But suppose I’m wrong about all of that.

Suppose Nicola Sturgeon has actually told the truth to the Scottish Parliament, and in the pleadings lodged on behalf of her Government and herself in the Court of Session.

And suppose that every civil servant who has given evidence to the Fabiani inquiry has told the truth too.

Then I think that, if anything, Nicola Sturgeon and her civil servants are in even worse trouble.

Because if they are all telling the truth then there has been, and continues to be, a coup of the most unprecedented proportions against the democratically elected First Minister and democratically elected Government of Scotland by unelected civil servants.

And the First Minister and her Government, who have stood by and let that coup happen, are every bit as much to blame for it as the civil servants who carried it out.

The Civil Service Code

It seems almost pedantic to mention rules at all in the face of such a blatant and self-evident coup against democracy but, perhaps not surprisingly, developing and executing a policy targeted exclusively against a former First Minister behind the backs of the present First Minister and her Government turns out to be in breach of the Civil Service Code.

This is what the Code requires of civil servants under the heading of “Honesty”:

“You must not… deceive or knowingly mislead a minister…”

This is what is required under the heading of “Objectivity”:

“You must … provide … advice to ministers on the basis of evidence, and accurately present the options and facts.”

And just in case that isn’t clear enough:

“You must not … ignore inconvenient facts or relevant considerations when providing advice or making decisions.”

It’s worth at least bearing those rules in mind as we explore the civil servants’ own accounts of what they did behind the First Minister’s back in November and December 2017.

Scottish Government policy on alleged sexual harassment by former Ministers in November 2017

This can be stated simply. In common with every other democratic government in the world, the Scottish Government had no policy on alleged sexual harassment by former Ministers in November 2017.

So if ever there was an area in which civil servants should not have been acting on their own initiative, and behind the backs of their Government, it was this one.

But then perhaps, even if there was no actual policy, there was at least some hint from the First Minister or her Government that could give civil servants, determined for some reason to go it alone, some kind of guidance on how to do so.

Well, let’s look at that.

On 31 October 2017, the Cabinet of the Scottish Government provided its civil servants with a “commission” – a formal instruction – which was recorded in the Cabinet minutes under the heading of “Sexual Harassment” as follows:

“While there was no suggestion that the current arrangements were ineffective, the First Minister had also asked the Permanent Secretary to undertake a review of the Scottish Government’s policies and processes to ensure they were fit for purpose.”

Not much encouragement here, then, for our independent-minded civil servants to strike out on their own.

There was, in terms of the commission itself, “no suggestion that the current arrangements were ineffective”. If then the current effective arrangements did not include procedures for progressing specific allegations against a former First Minister who also happened to be the present First Minister’s mentor and, by her own account, the closest person to her outside of her own family for thirty years, perhaps that was a rather obvious signal that, at the very least, the present First Minister must be advised of these allegations before another step was taken.

In fact, let’s get even more specific.

If the Permanent Secretary Leslie Evans thought on receiving these allegations against Alex Salmond in November 2017 that, alone among all the governments of the world, the Scottish Government needed a new and unprecedented procedure to deal with them, she was obliged by the rules of her job, as well as by plain ordinary common sense, to bring the allegations to the attention of the appropriate Government Minister, namely the First Minister.

If Leslie Evans truly thought that the Scottish Government’s policies and procedures were not fit for purpose unless they could deal with these specific allegations, and that new policies and procedures were therefore needed, it was incumbent upon her to provide all of the evidence in her possession about the allegations to the First Minister, to advise the First Minister on the basis of that evidence, and to accurately present the options and facts.

By the same token, Evans was expressly forbidden from deceiving or knowingly misleading the First Minister and from ignoring inconvenient facts or relevant considerations by withholding this vital evidence of the specific allegations from her.

Our hands-on First Minister and the Ministerial Code

Could there have been, though, some analogous policy or procedure for dealing with similar allegations in another context that Evans could have claimed to be applying in this novel context? And could that have excused what looks for now like the most flagrant of breaches of the Civil Service Code?

Well, let’s look at that too.

The only arguably analogous policy to which Evans could have turned for support in dealing with the Alex Salmond allegations without any mention of them to the First Minister or her Cabinet was the policy for dealing with allegations against current Ministers, namely the policy laid out in the Ministerial Code.

I’ve written and talked about the relevant provisions of the Ministerial Code in previous posts but, with apologies to regular readers, here they are again:

“The First Minister is … the ultimate judge of the standards of behaviour expected of a Minister and of the appropriate consequences of a breach of those standards.”

And:

“It is not … the role of the Permanent Secretary or other officials to enforce the Code.”

That seems pretty clear. Even if we grant for the sake of argument that Evans could rely on an analogy with allegations against current Ministers in seeking to deal with the allegations against Alex Salmond in November 2017, there is precisely nothing in the Code which would have allowed her to do so behind the back of the First Minister.

The Ministerial Code says so in terms. It is for the First Minister to judge the standards of behaviour expected of Ministers. It is for the First Minister to decide whether there has been a breach of such standards. And, where the First Minister decides that there has been such a breach, it is for the First Minister to decide what the consequences for the Minister are to be.

And, as the Code also makes clear in terms, not one of those things is a matter for the Permanent Secretary.

But matters go further still.

The civil servants cliped on their own coup

There was specific communication between senior civil servants on this very topic in November 2017 which puts beyond any doubt that Evans and her colleagues knew full well that all allegations of sexual harassment against Ministers were to go straight to Nicola Sturgeon the very moment they were received.

Remember that the first allegations against Alex Salmond were made in a phone call from complainer Ms B to Director of Communications Barbara Allison on either 7 or 8 November 2017. (The Scottish Government’s Written Statement says 7 November but Allison told the inquiry on oath that it was 8 November.)

Allison then told Evans of the allegations on 9 November 2017.

Just days later, on 13 November 2017, Cabinet Secretary James Hynd said this in an email to senior civil servants about sexual harassment allegations against current Ministers:

“We would need to alert the FM to the fact that a complaint had been received against one of her Ministers and to take her mind about how she wished it to be handled.”

On 15 November 2017, Hynd was even clearer. Here he is, in an email sent to both of Evans’s private secretaries, commenting on a suggestion that complaints against Ministers might be resolved by informal means without the need for Sturgeon to be involved:

“I am not at all sure that this … will be acceptable to the FM either generally or in the specific context of sexual harassment. Especially for the latter I think she will want to know straightaway if a complaint against a Minister has been received and will want to decide how it should be treated.”

There is, then, not the slightest plausible argument that Evans or any of her fellow civil servants could possibly have thought that it was acceptable for them to keep Nicola Sturgeon in the dark about any allegation of sexual harassment against any of her current Ministers.

What possible legitimacy, then, could attach to their extraordinary decision not to tell her about such allegations against her mentor and closest friend of thirty years?

None that I can see.

Nor do matters end even there.

At exactly the time Ms B’s allegations against Alex Salmond were being made to Barbara Allison and passed on to Leslie Evans in November 2017, senior civil servants in the HR Department were coming up with a “route map” for allegations of sexual harassment against former Ministers.

It’s clear that they were simply making this up as they went along since the Cabinet commission of 31 October 2017 had made no mention of the need for any such “route map” and there was no existing policy or procedure for former Ministers on which it could possibly have been based.

Nonetheless, its terms are worth noting:

“If allegation is about a former minister … FM to be alerted …”

And on 15 November 2017, the same date on which he made clear to all of his colleagues the need for Nicola Sturgeon to be advised the moment any allegations were received against a current Minister, Hynd also circulated to all the key players his proposed policy for dealing with sexual harassment complaints against any former Minister.

The draft contained this paragraph:

“The Permanent Secretary will be advised at that point [when a complaint is received] about the nature of the complaint. If the former Minister is a member of the Party of the current Administration the First Minister will be informed and will decide how to address the complaint against the former Minister.”

It’s quite bizarre. Even in terms of their own policy – the one they were now dreaming up from thin air, and entirely behind the backs of the First Minister and the Government they were supposed to be serving – Evans and her fellow civil servants were acknowledging that the first step they should be taking with the Salmond complaints was to tell Nicola Sturgeon about them.

Having acknowledged this obvious requirement on them, they then proceeded to blithely ignore it until June 2018, when the First Minister herself finally told them she had known of the complaints since 2 April.

It’s hard to know whether to be more baffled by their rule-breaking or by their ineptitude.

But perhaps we need to bear in mind that Leslie Evans, over and above any policy of the Government she works for, is an enthusiastic personal devotee of the Stonewall cult and its unhinged policy of “acceptance without exception”, as are other key players such as Nicola Richards and Judith Mackinnon.

So these are people who think that a man can turn into a woman – no, really – just by ticking a preference for female pronouns on a form, and that saying women are “adult human females” is a “dogwhistle” for a “transphobic” hate crime.

Maybe nothing should surprise us about this would-be Scottish junta and their utterly extraordinary coup.

PLEASE COME BACK SOON FOR PART TWO OF A VERY SCOTTISH COUP.

WE’RE ONLY JUST GETTING STARTED.

182 thoughts on “A VERY SCOTTISH COUP (PART ONE)

  1. Brilliant, thanks Gordon. When laid out like this the plot and the conspiracy is so clear. The Fabiana report cannot miss now can It?

    What was the cabal’s motivation…. hatred of Salmond? Queer theory? Loyalty to the British state ? Love for Sturgeon ? Perhaps all four in Sturgeon’s case!!!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. What was the cabal’s motivation…

      I don’t think it’s very complicated. Gordon has written previously about the seductive power of the #metoo cult. And it’s since become clear that some of the people in Sturgeon’s circle, like David Harvie, are clearly intelligence assets.

      So I think some of the cabal were #metoo cultists and wokey obsessives – that’s practically a job requirement to get anywhere in the public sector these days – intoxicated with the idea of taking the scalp of a “big beast” of the patriarchy.

      Others (like Harvie and probably Evans) were Westminster assets whose job was to stoke up the fires of cultism and manipulate the wokeys into new and more appalling excesses until long after the point of no return had been reached.

      Sturgeon would certainly be a member of the first group, but at the same time another job of the WM assets would be to fan the flames of personal animosity between her and AS, and manipulate her into acts of stupidity that will ultimately prove catastrophic for the SNP and the independence movement.

      And to give them their due the WM assets are doing a great job on all counts.

      Liked by 8 people

      1. According to the MI5 website:

        “Our officers work closely with members of law enforcement agencies.”

        and:

        “Judges have allowed our staff to give evidence in criminal trials anonymously, including appearing behind screens.”

        Liked by 2 people

      2. davidwferguson,
        That is a fascinating theory and maybe you are right, maybe London intelligence service assets have been placed at the top of the Scottish civil service. And maybe Sturgeon and others around her are members of a cult. Your sources are definitely more reliable than mine. I dont have any. But I think you give them too much credit.
        Here is my theory.
        Holyrood is the problem. I’ve said this before but not on this site. From inception to 2014 Holyrood was a political stage of significance. Interesting to witness exciting to take part in. When the SNP won an overall majority in 2011 and called for a referendum to be held in 2014 the eyes of the world were on Holyrood.
        Had we voted Yes in 2014 Holyrood, the present state of affairs the Scottish government and civil service finds itself in would not have occurred. The players would be too busy, governing. But we voted No.
        And that is my theory: we are in this mess because the devolved assembly that is The Scottish Parliament realistically has only one function it must carry out on an annual basis, that is the distribution of the block grant. Once that is done what else is there to do? That is the problem.
        Our MSPs have to oversee their ‘constituency work’ but when it comes to ‘parliamentary work’ ? How do they fill in their time? To keep busy, or more accurately, to give the impression they have importing things to do, they look around for ’causes’. Some times a ’cause’ will appear from no where, #Metoo being a good example. Gender Recognition procedures is another. Other ’causes’ have to be created. ‘Named Persons legislation’ and ‘Hate Crime Law’ for example.
        Who knows. Maybe you are right and this is a London plot to make us look stupid. I dont think we need any help with that. As long as we have the vanity project that is Holyrood I think we will carry on doing stupid stuff..

        Liked by 3 people

      3. Agree davidwferguson.

        Given the nature of both the intelligence services and the threat that independence poses to the British establishment, it would be amazing if the intelligence services haven’t facilitated this car crash; but what material they had to work with!

        No doubt all part of project make Scottish independence go away for a generation; or if inevitable utterly meaningless. Launched as a team sport the second the 2014 referendum got scary.

        While Surgeon may well be just the person to deliver a meaningless independence (and may think she has assurances around section 30 that she will, but difficulty recognising the meaningless part), I suspect WM is not that desperate yet, and the attack dogs will be released in the run up to May 6th, in the hope of killing the pro indy majority and opening way for de-devolution.

        Labour perhaps talking more devolution (again meaningless at this stage), to help give a certain kind of voter somewhere to turn–Discussing the unpalitabillity of voting SNP with Sturgeon (or an accolite) at the helm at work the other day made quite clear to me there are enough of “that” kind of voter around: “just vote Labour or Tory to get rid of her!”).

        I’d be extremely worried at what it says about establishments confidence in the controllabillity of Sturgeon (and Cronies) on the independence front if she (and they) are left mostly alone, of course.

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      4. On the ideology of the cultist thinking:

        Part of the problem – and I don’t know if this came along at the same time as TRA ideology or started beforehand – is that some psychologists and psychiatrists started using ‘affirmation therapy’. This is where they tell the patient everything they believe is true, and it’s the world that has to change for them. So psychiatrists get out of doing any hard work and the burden of dealing with mental health problems is on society.

        I’m being a bit facetious here – but it’s true – ‘affirmation’ is a technique they are using.

        So if a man goes to the doctor believing he’s a chicken:
        Man/chicken: Doctor! I really am a chicken and can only eat seeds, but everyone is horrible and says I can’t be, and try to get me to eat human food.
        Doctor: If you believe you are a chicken, then you must be, and people must accept that’s what you are.
        Man dies from malnutrition 6 months later. Because it doesn’t matter what you believe, if it causes you or others around you harm, the doctor has a duty treat you. Affirmation is not therapy!

        Affirmation is the thinking Evans et al are employing – what the complainers say must be true because they believe it, and everyone saying otherwise is wrong. They miss the part that, equally, the person making the denial should be believed too.

        It really is bonkers. Nicola Sturgeon surrounding herself with only sycophants does the same thing – all she’s getting is constant affirmation everything she does is ‘the right thing to do’ – she isn’t going to listen to reason, she isn’t going to believe anything outside that affirmation, you are on a hiding to nothing even trying. She needs therapy, not power.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Very interesting, Contrary. I had thought affirmation was a more narrow thing and wondered why we’re validating confused and peer-influenced young adolescents (especially girls) about their “gender” but not doing the same for confused and peer-influenced young adolescents (especially girls) about, say, their anorexia or bulimia — “Yes you’re ‘trans’ and should destroy your body with drugs and surgery AND yes, you’re fat and should keep starving yourself.”

        Seemingly, there are some “experts” who would counsel just that.

        It’s insanity.

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      6. It truly is insanity Gordon.

        I was in disbelief when I read about it – a while ago when trying to fathom the ‘trans debate’ – that actual psychiatrists were using this as a form of ‘therapy’. I don’t know how widespread it is – but it fits with the whole cult MO. There have always been suspect psychiatric techniques throughout the ages though – lobotomies for young single mothers, for instance. Or ‘conversion therapy’ (and this might just be a new way to do it).

        The affirming is being affirmed – as soon as I realised none of it was rational, I decided to stay away from it, because there really is ‘no debate’ to be had. You can’t reason your way in that kind of debate on irrational belief. Ties your head in knots.

        And Nicola Sturgeon is afflicted: I think “the lady is not for turning” (or whatever the quote is) should be borne in mind, and a similar forced displacement from office will be needed.

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      7. Not to jump blind onto the conspiracy bandwagon here, but… Does anyone know if spooks can infect a phone just by calling it and the recipient answers?

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      8. If you look back at Evans career you would struggle to conclude she was intellectually bright enough for MI5, a music degree from Liverpoool, seriously. Ultra woke feminist certainly, devious, undoubtedly see http://www.kidsnotsuits.com/fake-news-how-public-lies-begin/
        My question is really how does someone with her CV get to be Perm Sec? But what ever happens she’ll exit with a big chunk of cash + gold plated pension. Not bad for a pianist.
        But like all weak men and women she has surrounded herself with weaker subordinates and sycophants, especially woke feminists.
        Over the years I’ve met a few SIS people and special branch types. Extremely bright is my impression, but this shambles is not their creation.
        I know it’s convenient for many SNP loyalists to see British state assets under every bed but with people like Sturgeon and Swinney in charge and patsies like Yousef the SNP doesn’t need any help from Westminster to devour itself.
        The greatest loss to the SNP was Margo McDonald and Jim Sillars. I’ve yet to meet the political opponent who has a bad word to say about Sillars, I used to do radio interviews with Margo and she was awesome.
        Salmond has admitted that he allowed the SNP to centralise too much power in too few hands. This creates the ideal culture for corruption to mushroom.
        Gordon is right , what began as a simple plan to exclude Alex Salmond morphed into a coverup then grew legs and legs. It’s a pity Wee Nicola didn’t read ‘ all the Presidents Men’ for its Scotland’s Watergate.
        The most likely outcome in my view is the SP election will result in a hung Holyrood with a complete and utter Horlics of power for the next 4 years as the main parties jostle for power just when Scotland needs a pro enterprise, pro employment government to recover from Covid.
        And if you think Independence would help all that, then you are truly delusional.

        Liked by 2 people

      9. Hunterian2,

        I mostly agree with much of what you say except for the last sentence.

        Independence will resolve much of the inherent weaknesses in our system – it allows us to be free of the yoke that stops us from separating government from prosecution services. Independence – with our own monetary system – will give us the boost we need for the economy. Investment in creating all the useful things we need will boost employment (and so, returns in the form of taxes) etc. On a macroeconomical scale you couldn’t ask for a better post-Covid recovery enterprise than building an independent nation. I will emphasise ‘investment’ here.

        Nicola Sturgeon’s simplistic fantasy view of easing into independence with everyone approving was always fallacy. Extracting ourselves from tendrils of the British State will always be messy and a long-term project, so politically the mess we have, or the mess that’s being exposed, is just part of that. It was always going to be a problem, and still is – and while some of those tendrils that have been choking us for so long are exposed, it would seem prudent to take action. The only way any of these things can be resolved is through independence – it also gives people hope that some of it CAN be resolved. Staying in the union will only lead to more despair.

        A magical utopia doesn’t instantly appear on independence – but it gives us the ONLY opportunity to resolve, recover and build. The effort we have to make just to take small steps forward within this union would be better spent investing in our own future, not theirs.

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  2. Brilliant. In short form:

    1. Sturgeon is either a congenital liar or a complete fool.

    2. Evans is either a congenital liar or a complete crook.

    3. Conclusion: Sturgeon and Evans are both congenital liars.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I would like to know who the first complainer was, as we know there was one charge that had more chance than others, ( not proven verdict) was this the first ? Did I not read somewhere Mr Murrel said in a text ” we will keep this complaint for another day “, referring to a sexual harassment complaint made against Salmond some time before. In other words keep this in the locker until we need it. This would suggest a group already established. For the Moorov doctrine to succeed, there would need to be a complaint that had meat on the bones, was this the first complainer ? I would want to look at timeline of complainers and who took charge of compiling complaints. Was it the CPS that compiled this list or SG. If it SG and Civil Service, surely this would be a cabal by default ? If there is criminality the victim (s) should be contacting the Police in the first instance, sounds to me as if SG and servants were compiling a list for CPS. So was CPS in touch with SG and Servants to assist in Moorov Doctrine. Timelines and actors please.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Allan, these are relevant questions and requests but we’re all steering clear of setting things out this way to minimise any risk of jigsaw identification.

      The answers to some of the questions you raise can be found in Dani Garavelli’s long anti-Salmond story which is still online. It’s one of life’s mysteries why she wasn’t prosecuted for it and Craig Murray was but since COPFS clearly have no problem with it, I feel quite safe in referring you to it.

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    2. Allan, I believe it was Ian McCann who sent that message not Murrell. McCann reports to Murrell.

      With regards to the suggested motivations outlined above I do not discount Secret Service personnel being involved as a distinct possibility but my thoughts on motivation have been outlined previously and involve Robertson.

      Richard McKinnons comments I do not really see being a factor.

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  4. Great work Gordon and very brave writing. Nicola is either up to her neck in it or is unbelievably naive and incompetent. I simply don’t believe the latter although this is the narrative that will played out to soften the blow. I also find it hard to believe anyone would think hey could get away with this smear considering the unique nature of this retrospective action against former First Ministers which was obviously tailored for Alec. My tinfoil hat tells me this whole saga was designed to destroy the SNP from within which is exactly what is unfolding as we speak. It seems to be very coincidental that this is happening when the Union is also at its weakest point since its creation.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thanks, Nell, that’s much appreciated. I think the reason they (i.e. establishment institutions in all their forms) think they can get away with it is that they’ve got away with so much similar stuff before and are continuing to get away with it every day, and still have every chance of getting away with this one too.

      It’s why it’s so vital that on the very rare occasions like this when the veil is briefly lifted and they’re caught out, it’s up to all of us to do something about it.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. This is very clear Mr Dangerfield. Your taking the time to distill the various events into a timeline narrative like this explains the background very well and leaves no doubt what has been going on.

    Maybe someone with software presentational skills can prepare a timeline – event graphic to visually depict and compliment your most excellent narrative.

    Showing the track of what Sturgeon was saying to Parliament and the Court of Session contrasted with the parallel tracks of what was actually going on would be a helpful info-graphic that would support for the visualisation of what you have just forensically set out.

    And it would certainly help people to understand why aside of having stand down as First Minister, Sturgeon may be facing perjury charges. Lying to the most senior court in Scotland, treating the judiciary as monkeys on a bench to be fed monkey nuts is something that happens in failed banana republics.

    And make no mistake this is a huge constitutional issue. The law and process of the law in Scotland has been shown to be rotten to the absolute core. For some, the Law Society Practice Certificate is but the badge of an unregulated street corner used car salesman.

    The reputation of Scots Law, the mechanisms of the Law and that of government has been brought to its absolute knees. A failed state, a rotten Burgh.

    So thank you again Gordon for you and the others who are valiantly shining a light into the governmental and legal sewer that is today’s Scotland.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Willie, I keep thinking about putting together a graphic for the whole thing – it would be a very large wall chart size I think, and maybe not simplify things; though I’m thinking of how it could be.

      I have ,,, I’m note sure, 6 or 7 A3 sheets (some too full, some not full enough) to try and visually link up what was happening on each date throughout the timescales, with bits of extra context. It’s really useful as a personal crib sheet, to keep track, but it’s very much ‘live’ and constantly changing. I need Gordon’s input to know which bits are important and which not, the meaning behind a lot of the info, and how each bit interconnects to others. I’ve focused only on a part of the story too.

      Well, I’ve got 2 foot of snow outside and a few days off work, so maybe I should throw something together and send it off to Gordon, to see if he thinks it’s useful,,, there are too many strands to this though, I think perhaps any crude graphic I can produce won’t help. So don’t get your hopes up!

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    2. Thanks, Willie, that’s much appreciated. Actually, Law Society regulation is fierce, onerous and very expensive to all of us in the profession. It’s just that they tend to be fierce, onerous and very expensive against the wrong people, and pretty crap at finding the actual crooks and incompetents.

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  6. Well, that was certainly worth the wait Gordon. Thank you.

    The thing that strikes me is that we have arrived at this WITHOUT hearing from she who cannot be mentioned, WITHOUT Aberdein’s evidence and WITHOUT the appearance of either Sturgeon or Salmond,

    I know there is a feeling abroad that the Committee needs to provide the theatre of some knockout blow while in public session but, while this would certainly make it very difficult for the final report to ignore such a moment, it doesn’t really work like that in practice.

    The Committee has been getting a bad rap – and the performances of Allan, Watt and, in places, Fabiani have not helped – but I know that they have been aware of all of the above for some considerable time. Facetiously, my only concern might be that it is so long ago since that evidence was presented they may have forgotten it!!!

    I expect the final report to be utterly damning despite the Committee’s apparent lack of effectiveness. The only question that remains is whether Sturgeon will be implicated in directing events or ignoring events. Neither is a good outcome for her.

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    1. I think there is a lot of damning evidence away from the headline controversies – it needs more forensic examination as Gordon is doing, but it’s there.

      And I think, hope, that having Gordon examine their evidence will keep the committee more honest – maybe that’s why the SG has ramped up the obfuscations – I know I’ll be poised to rip apart any inconsistencies in their final report, and I suspect Gordon will be salivating at the prospect … (Hoping that he’ll have the time!). Even with redactions.

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    2. Many thanks GeeK. I only wish I shared your optimism about the Committee…

      Contrary, I’m groaning at the thought of having to wade through the thing. There’ll be something wrong in practically every line. I think I’ll leave it to a younger person…

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      1. Not salivating then? I’ll just hope you know of a pile of young and enthusiastic apprentices lined up ready to go then,,, (please don’t tell me otherwise, just *pretend* for my sake, my imagination is struggling to stay semi-positive as it is!)

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    3. The report is likely to be an utter whitewash since the standing orders remain the same and although the Spectator won to day the committee won’t change its standing orders or rather the SPCB who sets them. So if the committee doesn’t publish Salmonds evidence submission they can’t question Sturgeon on it which is her get out of jail free card. I.e . What it was designed to do.
      Fabiani will produce some bland offering which might just might see the Unionists produce a minority report – don’t think that’s ever happened in the SP, but that’s it.

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  7. I haven’t listened to the inquiry hearings. Has nobody on the committee confronted Lesley Evans with the fact that she broke the civil service code by not informing the first minister of the allegations?

    Surely this is the wedge to drive in between Evans and Sturgeon. Either Evans broke the civil service code by not informing Sturgeon, or Sturgeon was informed of the allegations and lied to Parliament and the Court of Sessions.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Excellent question David. All committee members will be aware of the remit of Civil Servants.
      So “Why Didn’t they Ask Evans”.
      Brilliant article Gordon. Can’t wait for Part 2.

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      1. Thanks Dave and nallyanders, that’s much appreciated. I’ll try to get Part 2 out a bit quicker than Part 1. It focuses on the massive input the complainers had to shaping the procedure, all organised (and denied) by Evans, and all apparently behind Sturgeon’s back.

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    2. Dave, I gave up at an early stage of the blog on trying to suggest obvious questions for the Committee to ask. With the very honourable exception of Jackie Baillie, and leaving aside their own obvious personal and political agendas which they’re entitled to, I think they just don’t have a clue how to do the job.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. What on earth was Liz Lloyd, the First Minister’s Chief of Staff doing when all this was going on?

    Surely she should have been coordinating all of this. The fact that she was not, and has allowed all this to happen to her poor boss, who was so disgracefully left in the dark, suggests dereliction of duty on the part of Ms Llloyd – part of whose duties, surely, is to ensure things like this do not happen?

    Or am I missing something?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think the point is, there is a suspicion that she WAS coordinating all of this. But we aren’t allowed to know about any of that, ‘disgracefully left in the dark’ haha, so best not speculating, even if we have seen evidence, we aren’t allowed to remember we’ve seen it, apparently, or mention that we might have seen it, even if it were on public record, or that anything was untoward about the whole thing at all even, everything was all perfectly fine and legitimate and everyone had everyone else’s best interests at heart. Etc.

      I think we are just meant to condemn Alex Salmond for being a MAN, which I believe he is, without boring ourselves with all those silly little details. I’m just not sure how being a man automatically makes that person guilty of something, we’d have an awful lot of the population in jail if it were so.

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      1. Sorry Contrary – bit opaque – I know very well what is going on here. I have no doubt that MsLloyd did precisely the job that the FM wanted her to do.

        What I guess I’m trying to highlight is that in a normal world, with probity and honesty, a Chief of Staff to the FM would have pointed out precisely what Gordon has analysed about the regulations and how they should have been given effect.

        I have now doubt that this was the very last thing that the FM would have wanted.

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      1. Well Gordon, Humphrey and I are old school civil servants. We know the rules and – broadly – follow them. The fun we had was in seeing how far we could bend them without actually breaking them – let alone breaking the law – and running rings round our ‘bosses’ – the here today, gone tomorrow political detritus.

        But we have been pensioned off.

        The present generation seem to have been chosen for a) ignorance of the rules b) a willingness to break any rules – known or unknown to them c) to lie about any such breaches as a matter of reflex and d) in many cases being too thick to either know or understand the rules, but to have a singular commitment to an agenda that accords with the mad woke beliefs of identity politics, faux feminism (real women’s rights ignored) and business-speak bollocks.

        And – as has always been the case – there lurk a cadre of British Agents who now cannot believe their luck in having career civil servants who lack any kind of commitment to probity – replaced by jargon-spouting HR- bollocks aficionados as SPADs who can be manipulated to their little hearts’ content.

        I’ll tell Humprey you are asking for him when I see him next in the Reform Club for a snifter. He’s a bit away with the bees – but sometimes knows what month it is – even if not quite which year.

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  9. Clear, concise and informative account.

    It’s worth reminding ourselves of who is on the parliamentary committee considering this matter. Collectively, they have almost 150-years parliamentary experience.

    Two of the committee (Linda Fabiani and Jackie Baillie) have been members of Scottish Parliament since it opened. All committee members will have a clear understanding of the Ministerial and Civil Service Codes and the respective roles and responsibilities of Ministers and Civil Servants.

    At least four of the committee have served as Scottish Ministers and three (Jackie Baillie, Alison Johnstone and Murdo Fraser) have been either leader or deputy leader of their party. Murdo is also Deputy Convenor of the Public Audit Committee where presumably governance and transparency in public service is of paramount importance.

    Both Murdo Fraser and Margaret Mitchell have a legal background, well-placed to seek and review evidence, interview witnesses, analyse large volumes of information and disseminate this in to clear statements of fact.

    There is a significant amount of experience (and tax-payers money) tied up in this committee. There is no excuse for a whitewash.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I take that back, I’ve just read the communication to the committee from Alex Salmond’s lawyers (Levy & McRae) posted today on Wings.

      Like

    2. Margaret Mitchell has a law degree but never practiced as far as I know. Murdo was a conveyancer. Adam Tompkins would have been a better appointment but he’s the convenor of the Justice committee and is needed there to keep tabs on Yousless.
      The committee should have had a decent procurator to give it advice instead of one of the SP clerks who would make your average paralegal look like a professor of jurisprudence.

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  10. Gordon, an excellent submission and I look forward, in due course, to reading it all.

    As is apparent, the SG and the committee have learnt nothing from history. It is the cover up that invariably leads to the fall of those who wish to keep, what’s done in the dark, from daylight. But all is ultimately revealed.

    I know that some committee members have been better than others (mostly piss-poor). But if any of them has any integrity, they will either procure the committee to offer Mr Salmond the assurance he needs in order to give his full evidence, without facing prosecution, or they must resign forthwith from the committee and tell it for the farce and obstruction to the truth it is. Nothing less will do.

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    1. Yes, it’s interesting how especially outraged the professional Sturgeon apologists have got whenever comparisons with Watergate are raised. The parallels, especially the high popularity in the polls and lack of public interest at this stage of the scandal — largely because the mainstream media has decided not to be interested yet — are eerily exact, as they well know, and things can change in a heartbeat, as they also well know.

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      1. The apparent reticence of the media on this matter has resulted in the understandable observation that they may be keeping their powder dry for the May election period in order to damage the SNP with a view to reintroducing direct rule from Westminster?

        Whilst this has plausibility it does not fit well together with the observation that the SNP, the Scottish Government, and the First Minister could be either compromised in some way as a result of the kind of activity which is the modus operandi of the English/British Imperial State and it’s security services attempting to maintain the Union; or that the current SNP administrations lack of action on Independence along with the paucity of effective opposition are regarded by Westminster as manageable.

        Whatever the game plan one plausible explanatory argument in terms of the print media’s lack of serious sustained interest could well be that what ‘independence’ it has is seriously compromised by its reliance on Government advertising – which appears to be the only thing keeping most titles afloat – following the loss of advertising revenue from large advertiser’s since the onset of the present pandemic.

        As reported by RT earlier today:

        https://www.rt.com/op-ed/515187-uk-government-advertising-newspapers-independent/

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  11. Given all of the press coverage, and PR statements going around, I’m curious about the effect on the order from the criminal case related to protecting the complainer identity.

    What happens if one (or more) of them “out” themselves via statements they make?

    Does that then mean that one can discuss them openly, while the others are still protected, or does the order still apply to all, despite being in part moot?

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    1. Best not to speculate, Chuckles, as it ain’t gonna happen. Maintaining anonymity is the lynchpin of the whole plan, and a shocking abuse of a very necessary protection. They should be deeply ashamed of themselves for bringing that very necessary protection into disrepute.

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  12. Excellent work Gordon – a clearly outlined argument. At the time of both complaints – for complaints they are, as soon as they’re put in the hands of an official – the rules said – both the existing ones regarding any ministers, and their draft rules they were constructing – they said very clearly and repeatedly: tell the FM immediately.

    No way she wasn’t told: or no way an awful lot of civil servants were following their code of conduct. Both can’t be true.

    Alex Salmond said in one submission, they first noticed that there must be a ton of evidence missing from the SG in the Judicial review because there was nothing submitted on the origins of the procedure. And still I don’t know the actual origin, they keep trying to say it was created on the 7th Nov 2017, when it patently was before that. (Some unpublished submissions I suspect). I also suspect much re-construction of those emails, that I can see, for the origins.

    An interesting legal argument by Alex Salmond’s lawyers – how can they hold him to account on a procedure that wasn’t even conceived of while he worked there – so didn’t agree to – so many years later? I actually thought of a reason where a retrospective procedure might be of use, while I was contemplating this argument – it’s a fairly good preventative procedure, if an employee knows there is the prospect of an ex employer chasing after you years later, you are more likely to behave. But – that only works if it was in place while you were employed there. (This being a workplace procedure). I still can’t see how the SG could apply this procedure – lawfully – there was no such procedure while he was First Minister.

    I can only assume the SG legal advice said ‘don’t do it’ throughout.

    Thing is too – Nicola Sturgeon officially commissioned the procedure for former ministers on the 22nd of Nov 2017, and was ‘kept updated’ throughout it, it wasn’t done in secret (from her), and she knew at that time she should have been informed – oh – haha – I’ve just realised why the civil servants have been trying desperately to distinguish between ‘a concern’ and a ‘complaint’! If it wasn’t a ‘complaint’ they can argue, they didn’t need to tell the FM! So they’ve wrenched the meaning of the word ‘complaint’ to be ‘when we trigger the procedure’. Chancers. They’ve constructive a wholly false narrative around the procedure development.

    I’d really like to see the whole lot behind bars: they’ve done all potential victims a real disservice, and destroyed a mans reputation and career: for no reason.

    Have to say, Gordon, I’m really hoping you’ve made some sense of the ‘handling phase’ and are poised to enlighten us,,,

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    1. Many thanks, Gordon, Outstanding analysis, both here and in previous posts. Much looking forward to future instalments.
      A couple of observations. Clearly, there was a conspiracy to ‘get Salmond’, but to my mind the Procedure itself was not required for this purpose. Let’s think what would have happened in the event of complaints but in the absence of the Procedure (or drafts thereof). Similar sorts of interactions with complainants (support, fact-finding, lesson-learning etc) would have been entirely appropriate. The key difference is that, regardless of motivations, in this case there is no way the civil servants could get very far without referring to the FM – it is inconceivable that civil servants would for example approach AS or seek to publicise (even by leaking) without such top cover. But with FM agreement, even without the Procedure, exactly the same sort of process could then have been followed, with adjustments to taste, eg AS confronted or complaints simply kept in hand, complaints publicised/leaked or hushed-up etc.
      So if the conspiracy could ‘get AS’ just as well without the Procedure, where does the Procedure fit in? Surely its real purpose is purely to exclude the FM from the whole process, and this feature in particular must bear the FM’s fingerprints – surely no-one else could have authorised the FM’s exclusion. So the real purpose of the Procedure was not to ‘get AS’ but to provide the necessary top-cover to the civil servants to ‘get’ him and even publicise the events while absenting the FM completely.
      It would appear that James Hynd, who led on the initial drafting of the Procedure, may not have been in on the full scope of this plan, at least initially (even though he claims to have thought the whole thing up by himself). Thus his early drafts included notification to FM, as Gordon identifies above. Nichola Richards corrected this in her overnight drafting in early Dec, immediately following (coincidentally or otherwise) the ‘testing’ of the Procedure with one of the complainants. Hynd appears to have been squared by this time, raising no query following the complete re-working of his draft into what Richards was already (correctly) labelling as the final version.
      One final thought. Although SG seeks to place immense weight on their Procedure, we must keep in mind that far from being Tablets of Stone, it is in fact a pretty Mickey Mouse document of only a few significant paras lashed together in pretty short order and setting out nothing but the blindingly obvious, with the singular exception of the exclusion of the FM. Also, contrary to claims by Leslie Evans and others, there is nothing in the Procedure which actually prohibits early notification to FM. Further, while it does refer to prior contact by the Investigating Officer, it makes no reference to on-going Investigating Officer liaison with complainants and their witnesses for the purpose of support, encouragement, update, feedback on AS responses etc, presumably because it never occurred to anybody that the supposedly independent Investigating Officer would actually consider it appropriate to conduct herself in such a manner.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Nice observations, Contrary. Their hope has always been that they could keep going on about following the procedure and that no-one would look too closely at how and why the procedure came to be — i.e. November and December 2017. As you know, that’s why I’ve always believed — and continue to believe — that this should be the focus, and why I’m happy for the most part to leave it to others to explore all the other unlawfulness and dishonesty, especially when Stuart, Craig, Mark, Iain etc are doing such a great job of that.

      Yes, you’re absolutely right that hitting on the “concerns”/complaints distinction was key to fudging the danger area up to 20 December 2017 when they could say they had a policy they were following for “complaints”. That’s one reason why it’s significant that the early “route map” and other early discussions say “allegations” — that particular line, and the need for it, hadn’t been fully thought through yet.

      And by the way, the 20 December 2017 date is itself highly suspicious for reasons that none of us have highlighted enough. This supposedly official Government procedure in this supposedly vital MeToo area was basically kept secret from all the staff who might want to use it until at least February 2018. That was because no-one cared about making it actually available for use, and because revising it was still under consideration. It was only there to be quoted to Salmond’s lawyers, and so Nicola could say she knew nothing. .

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      1. ‘Allegations’. Of course! Thanks Gordon: wording appears to be quite important here, and I was using these terms interchangeably. And ‘allegation’ is a word used throughout their early communications.

        I suspect that all of the narrative surrounding the procedure development has been constructed after the fact. They’ve picked and chosen the parts that align with their narrative – and the gaps we frequently see are those that are difficult to slot into that narrative.

        Interesting what you say about the 20th Dec date – they’ve focused on telling us that date is an absolute sign-off date – but then there is a ton of correspondence after it, still discussing the procedure in detail. Would the FM sign off on something so unfinished? Well, not normally, I’d imagine, and I’ve still to see a good reason for it being signed off so far in advance of the PLANNED publish date. Hm, 20th Dec,,,

        A question on that though – why would they need the allegations to be investigated so early, in January, why not wait until February? Plenty of complaints can remain unresolved for months and years, why the urgency? It lends weight to the argument that they didn’t expect any scrutiny – if they weren’t even caring too much about the timing, thinking the shock of the allegations themselves would obscure how it all came about.

        I’m assuming the procedure and the Scottish government involvement (rather than, say, doing it within the SNP party) was to lend weight, officialdom, legitimacy, to the allegations – and of course the right people are there to know how to do it and are willing to do it, and invent a way to give the FM a way to distance herself.

        Yes, the limited and moronic ambitions of our, First Minister, has led her, and us, down a very dark path indeed.

        There are a few dates the SG keep trying to emphasise, which says to me those dates aren’t important, or not the important thing about whichever event. E.g. Swinney keeps telling us about John Somers meeting with Ms A on two dates, the 20th and 21st of Nov 2017 – it’s so,,, *out of place* from the rest of the narrative. Is it that those meetings took place in the first minister’s office that’s important? Or the substance of the conversation? Or who else knew of them at the time?

        Anyway – good luck for pulling together all the other parts to the Coup! Throw me a wee bit of guidance if I get wholly off-track though please, but at the same time don’t get distracted too much…

        Liked by 1 person

    3. The Question Of Redactions

      I still can’t figure out why some things are redacted and some things not. Obviously, most of the time I don’t know what has been redacted, but while looking at the emails written to Witnesses and Complainers by Judith Mackinnon, it turns out all sets of emails have the same paragraph – divulging confidential, and legally privileged, information as she is prone to do – but some bits are redacted on the Witnesses emails, and not on the Complainer emails:

      Compare the Witness paragraph:
      “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 – [redacted]. There is also a suggestion that the names of [redacted] could be provided as witnesses, but assurance around confidentiality is sought.”

      To the Complainer paragraph:
      “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.”

      That means the chosen redactions here are “not currently employed by SG” and “current civil servants”. Why? What possible reason would there to be redact that when there are thousands of current and ex civil servants? These are witnesses she’s talking about remember, not complainers, and this is years later.

      Redactions could be anything from ‘my cat fluffy’ to ‘we’ll bag that blighter Salmond’. Interesting that they don’t redact the complainers far more personal responses. Not revealing of identity, but it’s personal feelings.

      ———————-

      But why would she be informing the complainers and their witnesses of this – see below too?! (I’m assuming that Judith Mackinnon didn’t manage to find any witnesses refuting the allegations off her own bat – this seems to be ‘team complaints’ – until given names by Alex Salmond). As an investigator,,, she doesn’t just lack something, she shouldn’t have been anywhere near this. I wouldn’t have had her investigating missing tea bags.

      One of the reasons Leslie Evans gave for refusing the offer of mediation out of hand, without bothering to consult either complainer, was that it was “inappropriate” while they were still at the fact-finding stage. After a few alarmed letters from L&M asking what she meant, they then realised how little clue Evans & Mackinnon had, and so tried to clarify the difference between ‘gathering EVIDENCE’ and ‘finding FACTS’ – an Impartial investigator collects EVIDENCE, and the decision maker decides the FACTS from that evidence. Still the SG call it ‘fact-finding’ totally oblivious to the fact that that’s NOT what an investigator does.

      Still doubt their inability to carry out an investigation of this type? You just need to read the Police Scotland submission – they were obviously becoming alarmed too, with Judith Mackinnon’s ‘hypothetical’ questions when she was phoning to get some hot tips off them, they said in their submission:

      “The hypothetical questions suggested more than one victim of potential criminality and as such, it was stressed that, without knowledge of the detail, any risk that a suspect might present, could not be properly assessed or mitigated. It was highlighted that SG staff were not trained to undertake such investigations, or to engage with victims.”

      Not trained ,,, to engage with victims – that’s what the police told JM since the 6th Dec 2017 and throughout her investigation which she ploughed on with obliviously. We might not know what legal advice they were getting, but police advice appears to have been firmly in the vein ‘don’t even contemplate it’. Why carry on, indeed, why start, when professional investigators told her not to, told her what to do instead, and why didn’t she ask for their input into the procedure development when it very obviously included an investigation stage?

      Of course, by the 6th of Dec 2017, the SG had crossed their t’s and dotted their i’s – they’d come up with the cunning plan of recusing the first minister from any part of the procedure, and it needed no more input, it was going to work fine for their purposes, any sense or sensibility was window-dressing & they didn’t need it to be fair or impartial or even legal, as long as it looked the part. As long as the could say they ‘followed’ it, none of if was their fault.

      I agree with Gordon that the procedure development is the most important part – but what came next, the execution of the procedure, should have put them all in jail long before now. And it wasn’t just Leslie Evans and Nicola Richards (et al) that knew, Judith Mackinnon had two people from HR working with her.

      If this is ‘best practice’, I wonder what they’re like when not at the top of their game?

      Below is some of the original correspondence I took the text from and the references.

      —————————–

      JM to Witness FN26 Batch 2 INV483

      “From: Mackinnon J (Judith)
      Sent: 27 April 2018 12:13
      To: [Redacted]

      Subject: Update

      Dear [redacted]

      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 – [redacted]. There is also a suggestion that the names of [redacted] could be provided as witnesses, but assurance around confidentiality is sought.

      The fairness of the procedure is still disputed.

      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 ”

      —————————–

      FN35 INV128 – JM to Complainer

      “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 “

      —————————————————

      Extract from Police Scotland submission to the committee 20th Jan 2021

      “Police Scotland provided advice at the meeting on 6th December 2017, advising that where criminality was suspected, individuals should be directed to support and advocacy services, to enable them to make informed decisions about whether or not to report matters to the police.

      This advice was reiterated on several occasions throughout the ongoing contact between December 2017 and August 2018. A number of hypothetical questions were posed during email and telephone contact around the criminal justice process.

      Police Scotland advised that, without specific details, no appropriate response could be given and no assessment of risk could be made. It was further emphasised that individuals should be directed to the relevant support services as it appeared that the hypothetical questions were predicated upon a specific set of circumstances and the SG response to that set of circumstances, rather than development of a generic procedure.

      The hypothetical questions suggested more than one victim of potential criminality and as such, it was stressed that, without knowledge of the detail, any risk that a suspect might present, could not be properly assessed or mitigated. It was highlighted that SG staff were not trained to undertake such investigations, or to engage with victims. “

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sorry, Contrary, too much for me to take in here for now but definitely the later stuff is just as important in the unlawful SG campaign against Salmond as the earlier stuff. It’s just that from the point of view of Sturgeon’s involvement, which is my particular interest, the earlier stuff, before she has the cover of “the procedure”, is more significant, I think.

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      2. Yes, and I agree wholeheartedly with your focus Gordon (especially when you’d know much better than me!) – I had meant this to be a short comment on ‘redactions’ but it got out of control, when I really wanted to go back to some of what you said above – so I’m sorry for veering off course! But thought I’d leave it to give anyone reading some insight into the horror of the investigation phase. It certainly makes for troubling reading. But yes, establishing the earlier facts will be,,, most revealing.

        (I’ve not got work this week and it’s a bit chilly outside, which is why I’ve been posting too much! It’ll slow down soon)

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      3. But,

        On my second point above: those people developing the procedure decided to put into it a complex investigation stage, that the police advised in general terms should not be done. The police were not asked for direct input into the procedure development – despite it already containing an outline of how the investigation would be carried out. Judith Mackinnon received the police advice prior to the procedure being signed off & it was her duty to report on that advice.

        So the civil servants either withheld crucial information from the FM regarding how the investigation should be carried out (the coup), or the FM knowingly signed off on a procedure that was not fit for purpose – it was the ‘wrong thing to do’. If she knowingly didn’t intervene in an unlawful process, she broke the ministerial code. If she still hasn’t intervened in a known unlawful process – surely she is continuing to breach the ministerial code?

        So, yes, proving that the FM must have known of the allegations prior to December 2017 is the important part – or we must assume a civil service coup – but also, similarly, the entire premise of doing their investigation in-house and the FM sign it off for use implies she knew exactly what it was for and it was wrong, or we have the civil service coup again.

        We have an FM that claims she knows exactly what ‘the right thing to do’ is – but in this case, investigating complaints of this nature, at all, was not the right thing to do, and trying to recuse herself from involvement in the investigation, doesn’t recuse her of being involved in the approval of there being an investigation at all.

        Too much of a nicety?

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  13. “… Because if they are all telling the truth then there has been, and continues to be, a coup of the most unprecedented proportions against the democratically elected First Minister and democratically elected Government of Scotland by unelected civil servants.

    “… And the First Minister and her Government, who have stood by and let that coup happen, are every bit as much to blame for it as the civil servants who carried it out… ”

    In a nutshell, Mr Dangerfield. Either an unelected civil service cabal was running the Scottish government and the FM allowed that to happen, because, as soon as the procedure was deemed unfit for purpose and illegal (and Mr Salmond’s lawyers pointed that out very early on), she would have been under an obligation to unrecuse herself and attend to the illegality. If she was not informed by Leslie Evans of the probable illegality, that was a severe breach of the Civil Service Code and showed that Leslie Evans was acting as a player in role she had no entitlement to (a state within a state). If the FM was aware all along of the state of affairs, she was being economical with the actualite to the inquiry. Hoist by their own leotards, as they say.

    It has been mooted that Ms Evans has been a long-time aficionado of the ‘wokerati’, too, so their tentacles maybe go deeper than first thought. Then, of course, the civil service is employed by Whitehall and the FM gets the huge concession of being able to choose which of Whitehall’s nominees she wants around her.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nicely put, Lorna, I agree with all of this. I think one of many instructive resources for the way Sturgeon and her supporters are handling this is Going Clear, the brilliant Scientology documentary where former members of the cult talk about how they were schooled in the techniques of outrage, insult and refusing to debate so beloved of the trans cult and now of the Scottish Government. Their tactics when faced with evidence and rational argument are identical and it’s not an accident.

      Liked by 2 people

  14. It all begs the question, did Oliver Mundell get it right by calling her a liar in the chamber? He of course meant no disrespect to the presiding officer!! Can’t wait for part two

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, nothing would surprise me, but I have to say that my own personal take on Evans is that she’s very much in the same boat as Sturgeon in loving that they have a wee devolved fiefdom that they can turn into their own personal “progressive” Canada, proudly signalling “best practice” (one of their favourite phrases) to the wokies of the world, while having deeply conservative — i.e. Blairite — economic and social policies.

      I think they’re learning, if they didn’t know already, that the unhinged poststructuralist bullshit that they’ve sneaked in when we weren’t paying proper attention is now going to meet with increasingly organised resistance from the general Scottish public, and particularly from working class Scottish women.

      Certainly, if we get independence any time soon, it’s all over for them, as I think they know, although again I’m personally optimistic that it’s all over for the Sturgeon clique relatively soon even without independence.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I hope you’re right Gordon. I’m not a member but I’m heavily involved in the Yes Movement and, whether we like it or not, the SNP and the Yes Movement are interchangeable to most of the media. This is damaging the Yes Movement and I can’t tolerate that. I’m also getting extremely annoyed by accusations of Yoonery being bandied about by Nicola loyalists.

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      2. I agree, kilted, but as a Labour Party veteran of the 80s and 90s, I’ve been through it all before — “Wheesht until we get power”, through Kinnock and Smith and Blair, and then “Wheesht so we can keep power” through Blair and Brown.

        Like you I’m an activist and not a political careerist so I say fuck ’em, fight for what’s right and let the cards fall where they may.

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  15. Mark Hirst is suing COPFS for ‘malicious prosecution’! Good for him – it’ll be a torturous road for him I’m sure. He’s running a crwdfunder to raise £100 000. A biggie – and yet again shows our justice system to be there only for those that can afford it – but worthwhile I feel, because it was so obviously very malicious and of no value. Link for anyond else interested:

    https://civillibertyscotland.com/

    I note your article on Mark Hirst is in there Gordon – you are very quickly becoming famous!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It seems like a good investment Cubby,

      I can’t see how the judiciary could rule it wasn’t malicious prosecution, and if substantial damages are awarded, we might even get the money back – and if it is really substantial I’m pretty sure Mark will put the money to good use to aid independence.

      It will put another nail in the COPFS coffin too I hope.

      We can’t know, of course, but I think there is a high probability of him winning this.

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      1. It strikes me that arresting Mark on a spurious charge that obviously couldn’t stand up in court was merely a pretext to search Mark’s house and seize his phone and IT equipment in the hope that they would find something so that they could nail him on a more serious charge eg breaching the complainants’ anonymity. In fact I’m surprised that they didn’t announce they’d found child pornography on his computer – you know, the pornography they themselves had planted there. After all, accusing people of sexual offences seems to be Standard Operating Procedure in publicly discrediting them.

        Mark recently wrote BTL on a Wings thread that he still hasn’t had his computer hard risk returned to him. More unlawful behaviour by Police Scotland and COPFS.

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    2. Understood, Gordon.

      As long as you have no objections to the link being posted here, I think Mark makes his own case very plain so it shouldn’t really need any further comment.

      Like

    3. After making my donation to Mark’s fund I had a “brilliant idea” which I passed on to Mark. I was delighted – well ok I was a bit miffed – to discover he was already onto it.

      Seriously, if it pays off it will be fantastic. My lips are sealed but I suspect Gordon knows all about it…

      Like

      1. I’ll just have to trust everyones claims to this ‘brilliant idea’. David, I always take comfort in the old adage ‘great minds think alike,,’, because, for some reason, all my brilliant ideas have already been thought of, invented, put into full production, and are widely available by the time I come up with them.

        Like

  16. Pretty much off-topic again, but I was raking around looking for a stored link when I found this piece of text I’d saved from a witness forensic psychology course I did back in 2017, because in comments we’d got sidetracked by talking about different legal SYSTEMS, (at the time I was defending Scotland’s slightly different system. Sigh.) I saved it and hoped to start looking into the other systems – to see if something better could be created in an independent Scotland.

    “Another factor to consider when exploring psychology and the law is that the law and different systems of justice vary from one country to another.

    For example the legal system in the UK, and in other countries modelled on the English system of common law, is described as adversarial, or accusatorial. Spencer and Flin (1993) summarise such systems:

    ‘In an accusatorial system each side presents a case before a court the function of which is limited to deciding who has won. The judges have nothing to do with the preliminary investigations, give no help to either side in presenting its case, and take no active steps to discover the truth, which emerges – or so the theory goes – from the clash of conflicting accounts.’ (Spencer and Flin, 1993, p. 75)

    By contrast, the inquisitorial system found in many European countries and other parts of the world is described as:

    ‘The court is viewed as a public agency appointed to get to the bottom of the disputed matter. The court takes the initiative in gathering information as soon as it has notice of the dispute, builds up a file on the matter by questioning all those it thinks may have useful information to offer – including, in a criminal case, the defendant – and then applies its reasoning powers to the material it has collected in order to determine where the truth lies.’ (Spencer and Flin, 1993, p. 75)

    The research and police investigations described in this course are firmly located in the accusatorial system of justice that is used in the UK and the USA. This is partly due to the accusatorial system posing more problems for witnesses and the reception of their testimony (e.g. placing what may seem to be undue emphasis on oral evidence live in court on the day of the trial), but also because most of the psychological research in this area stems from the USA and the UK.” (produced by the OU in 2017)

    Is the ‘inquisitorial’ system a better one? Would it resolve any issues, and would our judicial system be capable of change?

    I wasn’t going to try and learn any law, just try and do a basic cost/benefit analysis of the inquisitorial systems that we never normally get to hear about. I think it’s good for people to read the basic definitions above, and to know: other options are available. (And had it mind, for when we were freed up a bit time-wise, to ask Gordon, if willing, his opinions on anything I found).

    I’ve forgotten what I was originally looking for now though,,, sigh.

    Like

    1. Again, not enough time to address this properly, Contrary, but I’m an adversarial guy when it comes to the best chance for an accused person to combat the might of the State.

      It would be nice to think that the establishments of the various countries that have “inquisitorial” systems have everyone just get together in good faith to search out the truth when someone they don’t like is accused of something, or is accused of a crime that no-one likes, but my experience tells me that is very unlikely to happen.

      Give me at least one person whose job it is to unequivocally do battle on my behalf if I’m ever accused of anything.

      Like

      1. One of the BTL comments on Wings linked to a speech James Wolffe had made in which JW had said that in Scotland the Procurator Fiscal directs the police investigation. If that’s correct then it sounds more like the French system where the magistrate is directly involved in investigation of crime. (Disclaimer: my knowledge of the French legal system is based on reading Bruno Chief of Police novels!)

        If the PFS does direct the police investigation then it explains why Evans referred the complaints to COPFS rather than the nearest police station. No chance of the local cops dismissing their flimsy allegations when you’ve got COPFS there to order the polis to mount a massive fishing expedition.

        Like

    2. Thanks for commenting on this Gordon – I just posted it as a forewarning, for when there is more time for contemplating such things. No I don’t expect the any of the working ‘inquisitorial’ systems to be ideal in practice, but it would be good to explore what the differences are, and how it could affect / could be part of our own system. Those thoughts were while I still had some faith in our own system. I think we would all want someone unequivocally on our side if accused of anything!!

      Keep up the blog! You have plenty of other, far more interesting, things to talk about after this debacle has moved on, and I will still get to interrogate you 😉

      Like

  17. You write: “I think it’s inconceivable that Nicola Sturgeon did not know of the complaints against Alex Salmond as soon as they were made in November 2017.”

    Indeed. However, the quote from Nicola Sturgeon that you give does not actually include a denial of her knowing of the complaints at that time. Since it’s such a key point, can I ask why you didn’t quote her on this?

    Like

    1. Ed, I just assumed that everyone knows the context by now — that Sturgeon told the Parliament she knew nothing of the complaints until 2 April 2018, although she has fairly recently altered that to 29 March 2018.

      The part of her statement to Parliament that I quoted was made in that context so it’s clearly a statement that she knew nothing in November and December 2017 — and in January, February and March 2018.

      Like

      1. Fair enough. As somebody with only a causal interest in the whole affair I’ve found it difficult to piece together the story from multiple partial views (like the blind men and the elephant) which often seem to be slanted in ways which are not obvious to me so I’m on a bit of a hair trigger when it comes to any deductions which don’t seem to be supported by the evidence actually presented.

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  18. Well done, Contrary, I was just about to post that clip here this morning after I found and put it on Wings last night. But there is another thing which I found a couple of nights ago and I post here for Gordon and others interest. It concerns “H” testimony.

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/1DGfmsfk0zZpd0it2D6LMd5VTGfQWPZgM/view

    Some excerpts…
    “Witness asked about a text message she sent to another person, reads in part
    “I have a plan and means we can be anonymous but see strong repercussions”
    The defence suggests this was to ensure the end of Mr Salmond’s political life,”

    “It also came out in her evidence that she had been party to setting up the whatsapp group that went
    trawling for other people one who became a complainant after ” not having realised that it was sexual
    assault until the police turned up at her door to tell her that it had been reported to them that she had
    been sexually assaulted.”

    “The judge reprimanded her 4 times for trying to lead the jury
    eventually threatening her with contempt if she didnt stop it.”

    So from the above cross-examining by Shelagh McCall, it seems to show “H” was at the heart of the plan and not just one of the accusers.

    Hope this is of some use/interest Gordon. There is stuff coming out from different places and difficult to keep track of it all.

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  19. The Lord Advocate has replied to the question from Fabiani’s committee: why were the complaints handed to the Crown Office and not the police, his answer is:

    ” The Scottish Government concluded that criminal behaviour may have occurred and that it was appropriate that this should be brought to the attention of the police so that it could be considered by them. The Government took into account the attitude of the complainers to the question of a referral to the police but concluded that the matter should nevertheless be referred. That decision was consistent with the strong policy stance which the Scottish Government had taken in relation to sexual offences. It was also consistent with the general responsibility of the Scottish Government to support the rule of law.”

    That’ll be ‘no comment’ then?

    He’s still to answer the Q on redactions. Can’t wait.

    Like

    1. Contrary that was a reply but NOT an answer to the question. Evans said she followed legal advice to send it to the Crown Office and not the police. That did not give any reason/legal advice as to why she chose to not send it to the police as the procedure dictates. So who is lying? Did Evans get legal advice or not?

      Like

    2. Well Cubby, those questions are at the crux of the matter. I’m assuming they are rhetorical! 🙂 That was only a tiny bit of the reply though, but I interpreted the rest as “blah blah blah” “blah blah blah”

      No, not an answer at all, they are good at not answering. Like Gordon says, if the committee knew how to do examination-in-chief, they’d be establishing facts, not letting them reply with that mince.

      1. The procedure was developed, they say, according to legal advice.

      2. The procedure says – complaints should be taken to the police.

      3. Ergo, the legal advice says take it to the police.

      4. Evans took the complaints to the Crown Office, she says that was her legal advice.

      5. The Lord Advocate tells us nothing about this matter. But I like the way he said it took account of the complainers objections to it going to the police – so they gave it to the Crown AGENT to have a good browse over before it went to the police anyway; very considerate I must say. Mr Wolffe says the Crown Agent didn’t read it.

      6. Whichever way you cut it: Evans either lied about the procedure being according to legal advice, and/or lied about the legal advice re not going to the police, and just lied about following the procedure either way.

      7. I don’t think it matters which it was – they can’t all be true, so Evans is lying either way!

      If it’s true that the Crown Office has its grubby little fingers in the committee, and government, and parliament – and there appears to be D-notices and stuff getting bandied about now (so grubby fingers of the State clamping down) – the whole thing might grubbily be covered up in totality. Best to keep publishing as much as we can in the meantime then 😀

      Like

  20. Oh! Lesley Fraser has answered the Q on redactions, here’s a bit of it:

    “You ask about the arrangements for the selection and redaction of documents for sharing with the Committee. As you note, the Permanent Secretary’s letter of 3 June 2020 provided the Committee with advice about the general approach to documents, including the need to redact information that could contribute to the identification of complainers, where legal professional privilege is asserted or where information is covered by the undertaking from the judicial review. The Committee indicated that it did not want to receive the names of civil servants below Senior Civil Service grade, which have also been redacted. The Government’s approach to the selection and redaction of relevant documents has been restated in each of the written submissions provided to the Committee alongside each tranche of documents released.”

    They’ve done everything that they’ve been asked to do, totally in line with the approach set out by the Permanent Secretary.

    Oh well.

    Like

    1. Contrary, just another example of why an independent judge should be in charge. Evans a main player being investigated gets to set the terms of what info is to be made available. Just as Swinney does and The Crown Office another player in this scandal gets to dictate what can be considered for legal reasons.

      The people being investigated deciding what evidence can be looked at. In what world is this seen as fair and just.

      Like

    2. Exactly Cubby! None of this was fair or just right from the start.

      It’s OBVIOUS it should have been an independent judicial inquiry – or it should have been – right from the start. I can’t believe I thought a committee would find anything – well, I didn’t realise how deep this ran, or that they’d leave the Scottish government – the people being investigated – in charge of all their own evidence production! It’s mad.

      Surely people being investigated should be suspended while inquiries are on going?

      I also didn’t realise COPFS was allegedly (ahem) corrupt too and we have basically no one to rely on anymore – except maybe a couple of judges (that can’t appoint themselves).

      Possibly the best we can hope for out of the committee is for them to recommend a judicial inquiry and parliament appoints one. Hmph. We are in deeper water if it’s only government that can appoint one. This has been delayed by YEARS, and doesn’t need to be.

      Not fair and just at all. Not in my world. Especially when I’m spending my spare time reading the utter mince these guys spout.

      Like

      1. Contrary, it’s a bit OT; but it would be good to see the timeline you’tr putting together. Any chance you could put it somewhere visible – eg on a Google Drive folder.

        In particular, there’s a couple of dates I can’t remember the order of. Did MacKinnon email Ann-n-London looking for info before or after she became the Investigating Officer?

        Like

      2. Robert – I don’t have those dates as I said above, they haven’t been published. My timeline stuff is on hard copy only, handwritten etc, no one else would make sense of it at the moment any more than the evidence – apologies, but it takes a lot of work to make something comprehensible & it’s not at that stage yet (if ever).

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      3. I have a date of 31 October 2017 for emails from ? [MacKinnon?] to Ann Harvey, source being Craig Murray’s report on day 8 of the trial. Anyone have the date on which MacKinnon was appointed is Investigating Officer?

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      4. Robert, I’ve edited this reply several times, and at this point I don’t know what to make of the video that’s out there mentioning Mackinnon.

        Anne Harvey’s recent statement says: “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.” [my capitals]

        Craig Murray’s blog details a series of texts when Harvey gave her evidence as a defence witness at Salmond’s trial:

        “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.”

        The Crown successfully objected and the messages were taken down. If these 16 text messages constituted the “improper request” which Harvey wrote about on 28 August 2018 and refers to in her recent statement then they came from SNP HQ. If they’re different from the “improper request” I’m surprised Harvey doesn’t mention them also in her statement.

        I’d want to see something pretty definitive before attributing these 31 October 2017 messages to Mackinnon.

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      5. Absolutely, I was a bit concerned myself – I don’t normally do a knee-jerk reaction and best not doing so (that’s why I couldn’t ever do Twitter! My first thoughts are never the best ones). Iain got a version on his blog, but he’s now removed his too. All is well with the world again 😉

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  21. Gordon, This is a very clear. Will you, in the next instalment, and still based on the double all-true scenario that you use, cover the discussion that presumably would have taken place between the Permanent Secretary and the Head of the Civil Service? He would surely have asked for the basis of why the Scottish complaints procedure had to be different from the rest of the UK. And she would have replied ” because I judge it to be necessary…”???

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    1. Thanks, dooncan. Evans was asked about this in her evidence and just said basically, we’re independent of Westminster and don’t have to follow the same path as them. From memory, she even went on to express pride that we have an actual procedure whereas those Westminster dafties have to deal with such things ad hoc.

      You have to admire the smeddum!

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  22. I watched on Parliament TV the apology by the Lord Advocate given in Parliament. I have to say his apology raises more questions than answers. While correctly noting that the malicious prosecution of the Rangers Administrators Whitehouse and Clark was done under his predecessor, he neglected to apologise for practising lawfare while defending an indefensible civil case for FOUR YEARS.

    That having inflicted personal and financial harm to two citizens without due cause he had the gall to argue at first instance that the Crown had no liability whatsoever to compensate them. That forced the Administrators to go to appeal, then having won the appeal sue a second time.

    Asked what he’d done to ensure that such malicious prosecutions don’t happen again Wolffe said that we can rely on the “reputation, integrity and skill” of the prosecution staff. Which begs the question – where was the integrity and skill of the COPFS staff in this case?

    Wolffe said that he couldn’t comment further because of the remaining outstanding cases and that on the conclusion of those cases he’d make a full statement about the facts and the next steps about a judicial Inquiry. My immediate thought was that gives him an incentive to stretch those outstanding suits as long as possible to avoid scrutiny.

    In the Q&A following Wolffe’s statement the MSPs focus almost exclusively on the cost to the taxpayer of the payouts and are oblivious to the cost to the innocent parties that gave rise to the payouts in the first place.

    Had Whitehouse and Clark not had the resources to fight THREE court cases in their malicious prosecution suit on top of the criminal case they would have been penalised even though found innocent. You have to wonder how many other people have had their lives ruined by COPFS who didn’t have the means to seek redress.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. BTW after watching him on Parliament TV I am seriously concerned that the Lord Advocate James Wolffe QC is being severely underpaid. FFS the poor wee man has to appear in parliament in a cheap tatty ill-fitting suit. He cannae even afford a decent haircut or even get his eyebrows trimmed! How he and Lady Wolffe manage to survive on the pittance he earns and his wife’s meagre Judge’s salary I don’t know. You try living on 250,000 a year! 🙂

      ******************************************************

      Seriously though, I hadn’t realised before I started reading Wings how incestuous the SNP and the establishment both are.

      Wolffe is the Lord Advocate and his wife a senior Judge.
      The FM and the CEO of her party are wife & husband.
      Numerous MSPs and MPs are married to each other, used to be married or had affairs with each other.
      Still others are children of sitting members.
      Labour MP Dugdale is shacked up with SNP MSP Gilruth. That’s taking bipartisanship too far!

      I know Scotland is a small place but this incestuousness is too much. The potential for nepotism within the SNP should be obvious.

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      1. Stuart, I can give him a run for his money when it comes to cheap tatty suits! But otherwise I agree with pretty much all that you say here, and I’m afraid it applies on both sides of the current Salmond controversy too.

        Corruption at COPFS is far from a new thing as I’ll demonstrate if I ever get around to writing the series of posts on Tommy Sheridan’s case that was one of my main reasons for starting the blog!

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      2. Gordon, at least you didn’t get your cheap tatty suit from off a dead tramp!

        Because COPFS have since launched at least 2 more malicious prosecutions against Mark Hirst and Craig Murray I can’t see that Wolffe’s “reforms” have had much effect. Also retaining Mark’s computer hardware after his case was dismissed is pure maliciousness.

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      1. Neither, it’s just a way of distinguishing myself from all the other StuartMs on the internet with a number I can remember. Also by choosing a high number I can use the same handle on various forums and don’t have to to remember a unique handle for each website.

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    2. “You have to wonder how many other people have had their lives ruined by COPFS who didn’t have the means to seek redress.”

      As a recent observer to our antiquated court proceedings I have to admit to being shocked at the dubious treatment a great many ordinary Scots folks receive, often for alleged ‘offences’ which arguably should not get near a court. Looking through some of the police complaint (PIRC) reports also makes for distressing reading.

      The case I was mainly interested in involved a highly creative copfs narrative, not dissimilar to the Salmond case, and likewise none of which had any truth. Police treatment of the ‘accused’ was deplorable, and subject to a separate complaint. PIRC invariably appear to side with the police view, another problem area highlighted in the Angiolini report

      Many peoples lives are indeed ruined by the system: stress, depression, loss of employment, families, home, reputation, liberty. Scotland is shamed by this system, which I would describe as outdated, dehumanizing, even colonial in its oppression, especially of working class Scots, mostly by a privately schooled privileged judiciary. Indeed, much like Mark Renton described in Trainspotting.

      On a positive note, PDSO looks to be a little step in the right direction.

      Like

  23. We do seem to be blessed with a robust and impartial judiciary. However, one thing which is now clear is that the constitutional set-up, where the Lord Advocate is a member of the government and is also the person who decides who to prosecute, is, at best, mince. It’s not the fault of the incumbent, it’s a fault of the constitution.

    In setting up an independent Scotland, I would expect this to be fixed, and the roles separated.

    But is there a way of changing this now? Is it a task for Holyrood (in which case I’d campaign for it), or for Westminster (who wouldn’t listen to me)?

    Anyone understand this bit of the law?

    Like

    1. Robert,

      I found this comment (on Iain’s blog, but I saved it in the previous thread to explore later) but am not sure of the full implications, or what the case is about – what it seems to be saying is that the lack of independence of our judicial system is written into the devolution settlement, and is unconstitutional (and illegal). I’ve come up with a fantastic idea, and I’ll just throw it out there, that maybe the easiest solution is for Scotland to become independent?! No more illegal unconstitutional devolution settlement then, and we can have a proper justice system. Seems like the best solution all round.

      ———
      “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

  24. Gordon,

    I hope you will allow me to park here my reply to Mia on Wings

    Yes. In principle this is exactly the same as they did to Anglia Television plc.

    The role played here by Ms Sturgeon’s special advisor/chief of staff is identical to the role played here by the Managing Director.

    There, they installed a new Managing Director who was a phony, who’d never ten appointed by the Board.

    He did all of the “butcher and bolt” that was required.

    THEN they appointed him legally, after all the dirty work had got done, and made him a Director.

    That way the Board of Directors was not responsible in law for what the phony director had done PRIOR to the appointment.

    BUT surely his acts are not valid, and so can be reversed by law? you say.

    Then you don’t know about the Companies Act 1985

    285. Validity of acts of directors. The acts of a director or manager are valid notwithstanding any defect that may afterwards be discovered in his appointment or qualification; and this provision is not excluded by section 292(2) (void resolution to appoint).

    Bingo! They Butchered us and bolted, and the people that opened the gate, and accepted legally binding commitments on our behalves, were not legally responsible for any of it. Trebles all round!

    Except they got caught.

    Queens Bench 1994-c-2024
    J P Cleary v Anglia Television

    The phony director was Malcolm Wall. I was dismissed by Mr Wall on 24 May 1994

    He was appointed at the Board meeting on 22 July 1994.

    On that Board were Their Wonderfulnesses Lord Hollick and Lady Archer.

    Seems like John Smith didn’t go along with it.

    Like

  25. I was just reading about Scotland’s legal system on Peter Cherbi’s blog
    http://petercherbi.blogspot.com/

    If even half of what is alleged there is true, the corruption reaches from the top to bottom of the court system. Judges hiding conflicts of interest, QCs demanding extra payments in cash from clients not to throw the case and double-crossing their clients to the benefit of the other side. What a cesspit of evil!

    A blog post from 2013 :

    KENNY MacASKILL has been urged to get tough with Scotland’s judges after a watchdog warned they are stifling complaints and dodging scrutiny.

    Moi Ali was appointed by the SNP’s Justice Secretary as the country’s first ever Judicial Complaints Reviewer but, before delivering her second annual report tomorrow, she voiced fears that her role is mere “window dressing” and needs more teeth if it is to hold judges to account. Ali says people find it virtually impossible to understand confusing rules about how to complain about judges, sheriffs and JPs. She said: “They are legal rules, written by lawyers for other lawyers to use. To me, the perspective is completely wrong. You write the rules for the public, not for lawyers.”

    She believes that former solicitor MacAskill must bring in new laws to end judicial self-regulation. Ali, who also sits on the Scottish Police Authority board said: “I think fundamentally the problem is the legislation. “The way it’s created, it’s about self- regulation so you have judges judging judges’ conduct. There isn’t really an independent element.“I’m presented as the independent element but, without the powers, I can’t be independent. We have the appearance of independent oversight but not the reality.”

    Ali’s post was created by the Scottish Government in the face of fierce opposition from judges. With a £2000 annual budget, no staff and no office, she has been forced to work for free in addition to the three days per month for which she is paid.

    She said: “There was a genuine recognition that something needed to be done. “But I think with any professional group, whether it’s the judiciary or any other powerful group of people, it’s quite difficult to take them on. “And I think that appearing to do something when actually, perhaps, doing the bare minimum is an easier way of addressing it. It’s a bit like being in a straitjacket.” Ali has caused consternation in government and judicial circles by publicly admitting she is powerless. All she can do is review how complaints are handled by the Judicial Office for Scotland, which is headed by top judge Lord President Lord Gill.

    She said: “I’m sorry to say that I do think there was an element of window dressing. “The system is about investigating complaints about the judiciary but that whole system is run by the judiciary. “Without any proper, external, genuinely independent oversight, you’re not going to have public faith and confidence. “I know people will be very unhappy with me using the term window dressing but I think there is an element of that.”

    Scotland’s system trails behind England and Wales, who have an Office for Judicial Complaints. In addition, there is a powerful independent ombudsman who can overturn decisions, order reinvestigations and compensate victims. Ali said: “England and Wales started doing this, and a whole lot more, in 2006. “We’re not even where they were at when they started so we’ve got an awful lot of catching up to do. “The fact we have a JCR and not an ombudsman, to me, says it all.”

    Some senior figures within the judicial system privately dismiss Ali as an “outsider” and unqualified to comment. She has also angered judges by backing a Holyrood petition by legal reform campaigner Peter Cherbi calling for a register of interests for judges. Lord Gill sparked cross-party anger by twice rejecting a plea by Holyrood to give evidence to the committee. He said the Scotland Act allowed him to avoid parliamentary scrutiny as it ensures judicial independence from political meddling. But critics said that the Act is to protect judges from being quizzed over courtroom decisions not administration issues.

    Ali said: “I think it’s a confusion between independence and accountability. I really do think it’s as basic as that. The dividing line is completely clear.” Ali has led by example by voluntarily publishing her own register of interests, even though it took six months to get it on the JCR website. Her annual report details 20 alleged breaches of the complaints rules by the Judicial Office.

    She has also scored two victories for the public since taking the three-year post. One is that Lord Gill has now agreed to supply people with some details about the outcome of their complaint. And he has also agreed to inform the JCR about the outcome of cases which she refers to him. She said: “I’ve made some small differences but it’s progress. “But really it’s difficult to make an impact within the constraints that I’m in at the moment.”

    MacAskill has already dismissed calls to tackle the powerful judiciary with new laws but Ali wants him to think again. She said: “In the past few years in Scotland, there have been some really good things being done in all sorts of different sectors. “I don’t understand why this appears to be the one sector that is really behind. “I don’t think there’s an appetite for looking at the legislation again. “I think it will have to be looked at again at some point because, at the moment, Scots citizens have a lot less protection than they do in England and Wales. “If I was asked to create something to deal fairly, effectively, efficiently and transparently with complaints about the judiciary, I would not invent this.”

    Like

    1. From the same blog post:

      JUDGES IN DOCK

      Probed after bawling out a dog walker

      A judge was accused of a “tyrannical rant” at a woman walking her dog. The dog walker was left “shaking with nerves” and felt “very intimidated” by the unnamed judge, who told her to put her pet on a lead. Her complaint was dismissed as being “without substance” by the Judicial Office for Scotland because he was not acting as a judge at the time. But the Judicial Office’s own guidelines state that complaints can be made about judges’ conduct inside and outside court. The dog walker said ; “The point is that he is a judge and. as such, may be expected to adhere to a certain standard of personal conduct and behaviour to all members of the public.” Ali agreed and upheld the complaint that the Judicial Office had breached their own rules.

      Accused of insensitivity over disability.

      A disabled woman complained about a judge who, she claimed, ignored her medical condition. The woman said that the judge did not consider her “mental and physical disabilities and current aggressive medical treatment”. The Judicial Office kicked out the complaint because it was “primarily about judicial decisions”. But Ali found that the Judicial Office rules were breached because the complaint also related to the judge’s conduct so should have been investigated. She also said that “further investigation” would be needed to establish if the judge had been insensitive. However, Lord Gill disagreed with Ali’s opinion.

      IF I AM NOT SURE WHAT THIS LEGALESE MEANS

      Watchdog Moi Ali slates the legal jargon which is used to deter ordinary Scots from complaining about judges. She fears the complex Judicial Office for Scotland rules are not fit for purpose. She said ; “If you have a set of rules that you can pick up and not understand, then they can’t be fit for purpose. And the public don’t understand. They are not written in any understandable way. I don’t understand the purpose of some of the rules and some of them are cross-referenced with Acts of Parliament.” Ali has submitted a damning 25 page report to Scotland’s top judge, Lord President Lord Gill, who is reviewing the rules.

      In it, she says : “One of my principal concerns relates to the style and tone of the rules and the way in which they have been constructed, giving an impression that they are devised to deter people from complaining, to find reasons to reject a complaint at the earliest opportunity and to over-protect the judiciary.” She cites numerous examples of archaic language which many people would struggle to understand. For example, Section 5.4.b states : “If sent by electronic means indicated to be acceptable a document is to be treated as valid only if it is capable of being used for subsequent reference.” Ali has urged Lord Gill to bring in new rules which will be “fair, proportionate, transparent and easy to understand.”

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    2. How to clean up the Judicial System? A first step would be to create an independent watchdog with real powers and a decent budget to watch over the judiciary. Judicial independence goes only so far.

      To clean up the legal profession I would start with the strategy used to nail Al Capone: get them on income tax evasion. For someone you suspect hasn’t declared large amounts of cash income you compare their assets at the beginning and end of a period of some years with their declared income and their expenditure for that period. If they can’t explain why the assets at the end of the period are greater than can be explained by their declared income it’s proof positive of tax evasion. That should result in a clearout of the most corrupt lawyers.

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      1. The first step to cleaning up any institutions is for Scotland to get independence. Anything else is just whitewash or papering over the cracks.

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      2. Putting off reform of the judicial system until after independence is a bad idea. Independence cannot be achieved overnight – disentangling Scotland’s institutions from the UK will take several years not weeks, and that’s after a referendum which itself cannot be held in less than a year. Look at the complexity of disentangling the UK from the EU – separating Scotland from rUK is an even bigger task. As an independent nation Scotland will need to decide on a Constitution, set up a central bank, taxation and customs departments, corporate regulator, a defence department, army, navy, airforce, coastguard, foreign affairs Dept, foreign embassies, etc, etc. Scotland will need to negotiate trade arrangements with the EU and EFTA. All of these need to be in place on Day 1 of independence. It is an indictment of Sturgeon’s government that absolutely no planning has been done on any of this during her 6 years in office.

        In addition there has to be a negotiation with Westminster for an equitable distribution of assets and liabilities eg naval and coastguard ships, army tanks, airforce planes, embassy premises, pension liabilities, government debt, currency reserves etc etc etc. Then there’s the biggie: the split-up of the offshore Exclusive Economic Zone and the oil revenues and fishing rights. The final decision on this will probably have to go to an international court but some sort of interim arrangement will have to be reached in the meantime. Also before Day 1 of independence every business operating in Scotland will have had to restructure its operations into separate Scottish and rUK companies for tax reasons. None of this can be achieved overnight.

        Do you really want to let a corrupt legal system to continue while we wait for independence? How many miscarriages of justice are too many? I’d suggest that the time for reform is already overdue.

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      3. Okay, you’ve caught us out on the use of the phrase “the first step”, Stuart. I think what Contrary meant, and certainly what I meant, was that independence would be a game-changer on this and many other constitutional reforms. Of course we should do all we can to bring about such reforms as we can in the meantime, and many of us are actively engaged in that.

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      4. There is a lot of planning now being done, at pace, outwith the leadership of the SNP, Stuart. You should check out some of what’s being done.

        And who says we want any ‘assets’, or need to negotiate all those things – there will be some, but most of what you list aren’t necessary for independence. I wouldn’t be banking on the good graces of Whitehall to negotiate fairly – but one thing is for sure, they will want to be the continuing state of the U.K. – and if they want that? There will be no exchange of assets or liabilities (otherwise we have equal claim). There are quite a few countries that have become independent from Britain,,, not sure why it’s so impossible for us, in your eyes.

        We’ve lived with the corruption for 300+ years now, I have no idea why it needs to be fixed (which it won’t be, because it can’t) before reclaiming our independence. We might as well wait for the tectonic plates to shift so England is submerged, if we need to wait for all the corruption to be fixed. It’s not just the legal system.

        About 2-3 years transition period will see the bulk of what you are so concerned about, set up and ready to go – the fundamentals so people then get some real choices, and a smooth transition for businesses. Lots of work, lots of building – Lots of jobs. A growing economy & people getting out of poverty. I’m failing to see the downside, as long as we aren’t modelled on the neoliberal mini-Westminster ideology. And there are some very advanced plans to try and ensure that’s not the case.

        Nicola Sturgeon really has to go – from every point of view, I’m not just outraged at her lack of morality: her economical thinking is Westminster thinking, and it would sink us, same as Ireland struggled for decades: she’d have us in the same bind. And, well, she just isn’t interested in getting us independence, anyway. Remove her and some of our corruption issues are immediately sorted too.

        Nope Gordon – I really did mean independence is the best remedy and it should be what we apply first. I’m not going to argue if anyone DOES patch over the cracks in the meantime, though. I just don’t think it deserves large amounts of resources.

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      5. “who says we want any ‘assets’, or need to negotiate all those things – there will be some, but most of what you list aren’t necessary for independence. ”

        Contrary, the Scottish taxpayer has paid their share for the movable assets of the UK as well as the fixed assets. Every country of Scotland’s population has an army, a navy, an airforce and coastguard, embassies, all the full panoply of an independent state – Denmark, Norway, Finland, Eire. To start all these from scratch without any of the hardware would be an enormous task. No-one least of all me is arguing that Scotland should have aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines or Trident missiles and nuclear bombs – Australia has 5 times your population and we can’t afford these things – but that just means you are entitled to a larger share of what you do need.

        “About 2-3 years transition period will see the bulk of what you are so concerned about, set up and ready to go ”

        Remember that you still have to have a referendum before you can even start setting up these institutions of state. That’s not going to happen within the next 12 months what with the May HR election and Covid. The whole point about holding a referendum is that you need it to convince the No voters among your own citizens that it is a fair and democratic decision. A lot of the Indy supporters seem to think that you just need to get 50.001% of the vote to declare independence and then all will be sweetness and light in this wonderful new fantasy Scotland. In reality you’d have half the population feeling cheated and resentful. Telling them “Nyah, Nyah, Nyah, you lost losers so suck it up” – well we all know how successful that’s been with Brexit. If you don’t want your new Scotland to be mired in bitter infighting for years you need the vote for independence to be overwhelming – I’d suggest 60+% Yes on an 85% turnout.

        2 years to negotiate separation? Fugeddaboutit! It’s taken 4 years to negotiate Brexit and that’s a lot less complicated. At least the UK already had all the institutions of an independent state in place and operating. In spite of that the Brexit treaty presented to Parliament was 2600 pages! Imagine how complicated the treaty for Scexit will be. I’d suggest that 3-4 years will be required and that’s on top of the year or more required for a referendum. If the SG started now don’t expect Independence Day before 1st January 2026.

        We simply can’t wait 4-5 years to clean up the Judicial System and Police. To say that is simply a different type of Wheesht for Indy. Every day that goes by risks more fit-ups, more malicious prosecutions, more miscarriages of justice. Suppose you’re the victim of the above? Would you be happy that we put reform on hold for Independence? Thought not.

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  26. I realise this isn’t of particular interest, but I was reading again the ruling from Lord Pentland, some of which says:

    “The Lord Ordinary, having heard counsel, on the petitioner’s motion, of consent, and in terms and in respect of the Joint Minute for parties No. 39 of process,:-
    (i.) finds and declares that the decisions of the first named respondent, viz. Leslie Evans, as set out in:-
    (a) a Decision Report written by her dated 21 August 2018 entitled “Formal complaints against Former First Minister, Alex Salmond” (production No. 6/2 in the petitioner’s First Inventory of Productions); and
    (b) a letter from her to the petitioner’s solicitors dated 22 August 2018 (production No. 6/1 in the petitioner’s First Inventory of Productions)
    are unlawful in respect that they were taken in circumstances which were procedurally unfair and in respect that they were tainted by apparent bias by reason of the extent and effects of the Investigating Officer’s involvement with aspects of the matters raised in the formal complaints against the petitioner prior to her appointment as Investigating Officer in respect of each of those complaints;
    (ii.) reduces the decisions of the first named respondent contained in the aforementioned Decision Report dated 21 August 2018 and letter dated 22 August 2018;”

    (No formatting here so a bit messy looking). It’s that last section that caught my eye and I thought – it isn’t just all the investigation reports and the decision report and the letter to AS from LE that Lord Pentland ‘reduced’ (‘to have no effect in law’ I think was the definition) – does this mean the actual Decisions themselves were reduced? Not just all the documents pertaining to it – but the decision, in and of itself?

    No wonder the police are claiming they didn’t touch it with a barge pole – if they based any of their investigation on any part of LE’s decision, would that not mean there would be doubt cast on the validity of the police investigation too?

    Does Leslie Evans understand this ruling at all? She keeps offering her decision report to the committee – but if they accepted it, the validity of their inquiry would then be in doubt (as I read it). And where does this place her testimony, where she still stands by her Decision – but the court has said it is not valid?

    Bah. The weird world of legal things. And weird world of civil service things. It feels like they are worlds away from normal society.

    I was trying to collate all the times it was mentioned that allegations needed to be reported to the FM, just in support of Gordon’s article here; there are tons, but every time I go delving into the evidence submitted I get sucked down a rabbit hole of anomalies and needing to check back on previous and new evidence, and going down other paths.

    E.g. For this next ‘tranche’ of docs from the SG, the Phase 2 stuff, we have a new ‘timeline’ from Nicola Richards up to the 14th December 2017 – the one I found (XX047) in Phase 1 was up until the 6th of Dec – this new one, for the same events on the 4th and 6th of December have the people involved (both have NR and JMack) changed – so before it was JH/[redacted], the new one has [lawyer1]/[redacted]. So where has JH (James Hynd) gone? Was he or was he not involved? Is this sloppy record-keeping, and was it so in the first or second instance?

    The SG submission of events for the Phase 2 handling phase, para 16, say that Barabara Allison subsequently had further contact with [MsB] through November – but their evidence supporting this claim is: 1. BA forwarding one of Leslie Evans’ general communications (no personal note at all, not even a ‘hi’), and 2. a screenshot of opaque text messages between her & LE, that could imply BA had received a phone call from ,,, well, from someone , and they wanted BA to tell LE. That’s it – that’s the evidence to say there was contact between BA and MsB. Why even bother to say it happened when they have no evidence? Why refer to things that aren’t evidence?!

    And three potential complainers? Why try to keep that hidden? If there wasn’t a formal complaint, but they were referring to it, so what? I don’t quite understand that. It’s possible, of course, some of those non-formal allegations snuck into JM’s investigation report, under the unattributed Allegations J&K. But that still doesn’t explain to me why keep that part secret (or not so much after Alex Cole-Hamilton mentioned it) – are those the parts on the timeline I mentioned above that are redacted?

    And why haven’t the committee asked all these questions already? Have they even bothered to read any of the evidence?!

    Frustrating.

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    1. As usual, you have a lot here, Contrary, and too much for me to go into any detail on as I’m trying to write Part Two of the Scottish Coup on my day off — hah! — but on the reduced reports, yes they render Evans’s decision of no legal effect, or effect of any kind, and note the chronology. The police, so we are told, took the decision not to use the Evans and Mackinnon material in August 2018 when it was sent to them by the SG but that material was not reduced by the court until January 2019. What an unusually sensible and prescient decision by the police that was!

      You’re definitely on to something with the three complainers. I don’t know if I’ll ever get to doing much with it but why do we have no material at all for the third complainer? There must be much more than the passing mentions we have, and we know she was shown the draft procedure and had an input to shaping it, right along with Ms A and Ms B. Material showing this is just as central to the inquiry’s remit as the Ms A and Ms B stuff.

      It’s yet another coup for Leslie Evans that all of the third complainer material has been withheld without so much as a raised eyebrow from the Committee members or their clerks.

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    2. Hah, funny that I was contemplating mentioning – it’s the weekend Gordon! Get on with part 2! We are waiting! – but on further reflection (do lawyers ever have days off?. Hmm, probably not,,,) I thought it best not to mention anything at all… 😀

      Yes, very prescient of the police – hence while I was writing that I changed ‘said’ to ‘claim’ – and the police’s ever so appropriate actions in not accepting the decision may be reduced further to ‘unverifiable claim’ or ‘alleged’ and maybe eventually ‘aye right, so they say, as if’ in the future. Once the blood has been fully extracted from all stones.

      I think it is, in fact, the committee itself that’s suppressing the information on the third complainer – I keep going back to try and get any iota on info on what happened between the 2nd and 7th of Nov 2017 (origin of the procedure) and noted the missing footnotes (that is, ones the committee has but not published, but referred to by SG submission of events) – early Nov is missing nos. 17, 18 and 22. Then I look through the list of footnotes and see lots of gaps,,,

      And I think – many of the sections of evidence missing – the breaks in the chain of the narratives – might be because they have, for some unfathomable reason, just excluded everything that makes reference to the third complainer. It must have been a staff member, so I can’t see the controversy, and the SG mention ‘three incidents’ reported to ‘police’. (The SG likely think it adds weight/justification to their argument, even after all that has happened).

      The committee itself also asked for a rather extreme level of redactions to my mind. Just makes me think they’re just another part of the cover up.

      I really wish someone was paying you (and a team of impartial investigators) to investigate this full time Gordon – there is just so much to it, and I don’t understand the relevance of half of what I read, it needs full time pulling apart, I just end up with more questions than answers. (Including: why hasn’t the committee already asked these questions? If I can spot so many howling inconsistencies, then people getting paid a shed-load of public money to do it should be capable of it too). Not that you’d want the job mind you!

      E.g. The innocent-sounding ‘fact-finding’ – as written in the procedure, as JM claims to have done, and all of SG insist on what was done by the impartial IO – I only realise might have been/is a gross error after reading the L&M letters – an investigator collects evidence, not facts. The decision maker determines facts from the evidence.

      JM’s ‘gathering of facts’ might be what the procedure said to do – but that makes her a decision maker, not an impartial investigator. Who wrote this procedure?! Who decided it was sensible to do any investigation?!

      But – don’t let me lead you down a rabbit-hole (with attendant maze-like warren) too – we want part 2 of the coup!

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  27. The first sentence of a tweet put out by COPFS last night — “The legal term for victims of crime in Scotland is complainer” — is a microcosm of the bad faith and incompetence that permeates the whole organisation from the top down. The idea that every person who COMPLAINS that they have been the victim of a crime is, by virtue of their complaint, an ACTUAL victim of crime is self-evidently preposterous, as is the related idea peddled by RCS and others that anyone who says they have been the victim of sexual assault must automatically be believed.

    However, on the more general topic of complainer anonymity preventing information about the plot against Alex Salmond from coming out at the inquiry or on social media I do think that a lot of people are going to be disappointed when they see Lady Dorrian’s written reasons for her decision on jigsaw identification. Yes, it will rule out the “absurd” reading of the order where you can’t say ANYTHING about X in ANY context because X is a complainer against Salmond but that still leaves the order where it was for all of us with half a brain who always rejected that absurd reading.

    The jigsaw problem, as I’m sure you know too, is a more nuanced problem than a lot of people now seem to think. Stuart Campbell in his recent Wings post put it perfectly. You can of course say that “X is Nicola Sturgeon’s bank manager” where X happens to be a complainer and the fact that she is Nicola’s bank manager has not been published. But where it has been published in another place that the complainer is in fact Nicola’s bank manager, you have to weigh up whether your identification of X as the bank manager will allow someone to go to the other published piece and put the two pieces of the jigsaw together or whether COPFS will see the two pieces as sufficiently remote in time or context, or perhaps your own publication sufficiently limited or obscure, that they don’t come after you.

    And what you absolutely cannot do is say in one part of your published statement “X is Nicola’s bank manager” and then a few paragraphs further down, “Nicola’s bank manager was a complainer against Salmond.”

    I’m afraid I think Lady Dorrian’s reasons will leave all of us who have always understood the order exactly where we were — jigsaw identification as a judgment call in every case, and where the level of risk you take in making the judgment depends very much on whether you’re Dani Garavelli or Craig Murray.

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  28. The first sentence of a tweet put out by COPFS last night — “The legal term for victims of crime in Scotland is complainer” — is a microcosm of the bad faith and incompetence that permeates the whole organisation from the top down. The idea that every person who COMPLAINS that they have been the victim of a crime is, by virtue of their complaint, an ACTUAL victim of crime is self-evidently preposterous, as is the related idea peddled by RCS and others that anyone who says they have been the victim of sexual assault must automatically be believed.

    However, on the more general topic of complainer anonymity preventing information about the plot against Alex Salmond from coming out at the inquiry or on social media I do think that a lot of people are going to be disappointed when they see Lady Dorrian’s written reasons for her decision on jigsaw identification. Yes, it will rule out the “absurd” reading of the order where you can’t say ANYTHING about X in ANY context because X is a complainer against Salmond but that still leaves the order where it was for all of us with half a brain who always rejected that absurd reading.

    Jigsaw identification is a more nuanced problem than a lot of people now seem to think. Stuart Campbell in his recent Wings post put it perfectly. You can of course say that “X is Nicola Sturgeon’s bank manager” where X happens to be a complainer and the fact that she is Nicola’s bank manager has not been published. But where it has been published in another place that the complainer is in fact Nicola’s bank manager, you have to weigh up whether your identification of X as the bank manager will allow someone to go to the other published piece and put the two pieces of the jigsaw together or whether COPFS will see the two pieces as sufficiently remote in time or context, or perhaps your own publication sufficiently limited or obscure, that they don’t come after you.

    And what you absolutely cannot do is say in one part of your published statement “X is Nicola’s bank manager” and then a few paragraphs further down, “Nicola’s bank manager was a complainer against Salmond.”

    I’m afraid I think Lady Dorrian’s reasons will leave all of us who have always understood the order exactly where we were — jigsaw identification as a judgment call in every case, and where the level of risk you take in making the judgment depends very much on whether you’re Dani Garavelli or Craig Murray.

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    1. I think Lady Dorrian’s description – ‘absurd’ – was appropriate.

      The jigsaw identification thing – it really needs to be better defined before its used in a ruling I’d have thought. It’s okay for legal bods, who will understand the limits of arguable situations. But this ruling is for everyone, the general public, who don’t understand the niceties, have the skills, money or knowledge to know if something is arguable or not, when it isn’t clearly defined. And when you get flagrant abuse of that ruling (Garavelli) let off, and strict adherence to it (Craig) punished – what are we (the general public) meant to think?

      I’m just struck how, in trying to avoid any consideration of who the final accusers were, I still get ‘too much information’ thrown in my face – and mostly by the people claiming to want to protect the identities. You can’t just randomly exclude then include names in documents (or whole documents) and say ‘nothing to see here’ ,,, it’s absurd. The committee itself, by its actions, by making this a thing, has just told the world that the whole thing is just a little bit too,,, incestuous. Luckily I am steadfastly remaining ignorant.

      But I’m assuming Lady Dorrian’s ruling means that we can still mention names as long as they are not in any way, implied or otherwise, said in relation to anything to do with ‘complaint’ ‘allegation’ or ‘accusation’? Is that going to be far enough away to avoid prosecution, whichever side of the independence divide you sit?

      And then, of course, how do we avoid mentioning names, when we don’t know which ones not to mention? Absurd.

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    2. Gordon, surely the nonsense about jigsaw identification is: how exactly are you supposed to know every bit of info that has been put in to the public domain at any point in time. So, eg, in April you could say something and there is no possibility of jigsaw identification but two months later someone else says something which you are unaware of and you say the exact same thing in July but now it may help someone do the jigsaw and you are totally unaware of that occurring.

      I doubt there have been many prosecutions for jigsaw – if any.

      I have not seen the programme but I understand an alphabet woman has been on the BBC again today. Is this really how it should operate – they get free reign to slag off who they want under this cloak of invisibility.

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    3. I agree Gordon – I would go further and suggest that the COPS advised banning the Aberdein and Salmond evidence from the Enquiry in order for the jigsaw identification assertion to work in their favour. BUT by banning the aforementioned evidence they have surely definitely identified one of the accusers – can we arrest them, please)?

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      1. I doubt that they’re that smart, but yes, the effect is as you describe and it’s truly Kafkaesque. If the Committee had just published the submission in the first place as Wings Over Scotland did (and as the Spectator then lifted) there would have been no issue. Their own refusal to publish at the behest of COPFS, and the wholly unnecessary redaction made by the Spectator at the insistence of COPFS, have brought a focus onto this evidence which as you say they’ll now try to exploit to justify their continued refusal to publish.

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  29. I was wondering whether it would be possible to put together an “angel’s advocate” description of the events? Here by “angel’s advocate” version I mean a description where every event and statement is “true”, meaning the truth as understood by the person making the statement. Not necessarily the whole truth, though.

    I was set off in this direction by looking again at the events surrounding the death of Willie McRae, where initially the statements seemed to contradict each other – “so someone’s lying”. There’s a more recent version of the events, which may or may not be true, but it does have the merit of allowing every statement to be the truth (though again not the whole truth,).

    Starting with the infamous Procedure. As an engineer, I see the importance of having written procedures – you know what to do when something happens. And a good procedure should cover even unlikely happenings. There’s many a bit of software which has crashed because it didn’t know what to do with unexpected input data.

    The aim of the procedure should be to stop harassment happening in the future – it can’t correct past misdoings – and it’s not the place of the employer to punish anyone. The job of a minister is an unusual one – people come and go in ministerial posts. It would be useful for anyone appointing a minister to know if they had a previous history of harassment, and for politicians to know that they can’t wipe the slate clean by resigning. The Procedure in question seems to satisfy that, in that information is passed to the person likely to be re-employing them … so OK so far.

    I can’t so far get an angel’s version of not informing the current FM, except for a privacy issue – the information is going only to the most likely re-employer only. It feels as though someone said: “do what you want, but keep me out of it” – but that doesn’t fit the aim of an angel’s version. Nor does the intention of publishing the report …

    There’s bits further down the story as well. The Bute House incident could have happened as described, but on a date different from that stated… sort of plausible, if not very. There’s plenty of incidents I remember vividly, but could date only from a diary – and maybe my diary has me going to Bute House on several occasions, and I chose the wrong one.

    There’s the SG being difficult about releasing information on legal advice – so something to hide? But then think of Mark Hirst’s advice from his lawyer when interrogated – “tell them nothing, don’t even confirm your middle name”.

    I’m not doing a very good job, am I?

    I’ll keep on thinking.

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    1. IIRC the complainant (Ms H?) said that the attempted rape occurred after a dinner with AS and a well-known Scottish actor – let’s call him KS – whom Alex was trying to persuade to publicly support a Yes vote for independence. That pins down date of the alleged incident precisely.

      Another guest at that dinner testified that Ms H had asked her to attend that dinner in her place as Ms H was unable to go and H definitely did not attend. The celebrity actor was vague about the female guests present, which is odd given that Ms H had her arm in a sling at the time. You’d think a detail like that would stick in your memory.

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      1. Stuart
        I’m speculating that there were a number of dinners.

        have a solid memory of taking one of my children as a toddler for their inoculation. I remember details of the surgery, its furniture, the faces of the two nurses, how I held the toddler, the procedure (beautifully done!), the shaken bottle of coloured plastic to distract the subject.

        But I cannot remember which of two children it was! And therefore I don’t know which year it was. If I had a diary (which I don’t), and if there were an entry “take X for inoculation”, I’d assume that was the date. It might transpire that my diary recorded the appointment, but that I missed it and went on a different date

        Having said that, if it were something really important (as is the case here), I’d need to find some way of being sure.

        Be aware that I’m just trying to see whwther there is a possible narritive with everyone telling the truth as they tremember it, and that I’m not suceeding very well.

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      2. Robert, I get the impression that in the leadup to the referendum there were a series of dinners with various public figures with the object of persuading them to publicly endorse independence. Ms H wasn’t necessarily a guest at each one. The significance of this one is that Ms H testified that the guest was KS which narrows it down to one specific date, which the other witness testified she never attended. My guess is that having decided to make a false complaint she was searching around for an occasion where she could plausibly have been alone with AS without inconvenient witnesses to contradict her – not something that happens very often with politicians who’re surrounded by aides and security guards all day every day. Looks in diary – “Bute House, dinner with AS & KS” – yes that’ll do, having forgotten she never actually attended. That’s the trouble with concocting a false story, you get tripped up on the details. It’s not a matter of just getting her dates mixed up.

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    2. Two more bits to add. Mediation was never going to fly. Mediation is what you do where the relevant people are going to have to, or want to continue to, work together and need to find some closure which allows both to do this. So not relevant here.

      Secondly, some of the minor chargers could be there because someone said, when the police did their trawl, “X happened, but I don’t think it’s assault”, getting the reply “It’s not for you and me to decide that – leave it to a court”.

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  30. Yep. Me again. As I was trying to trawl through some of the hell-damned tragedy of a spaghetti-like disorganised mess that the committee calls evidence and footnotes and references: trying to find a different reference, I came across, again, a couple that I barely registered at the time, from the phase 1 stuff.

    Now that I’ve been looking at the complaints handling – and wondering at their choices of what to put into the procedure at all, their descriptions of how to handle a complaint, and their actual handling – I realise that these documents might have more relevance than I thought.

    In Phase1 FN39, we are shown draft guidance and FAQs sent out by CSEP – this is the Civil Service Employee Policy – the uk gov civil service team that puts together policies for all the civil service I think (it was sent out to all devolved governments).

    The first, XX016, sent (to JM and NR at least) on the 17th Nov 2017 was titled ‘DRAFT GUIDANCE on the Handling of Historic Cases of Harassment’ (paraphrased, because I can’t be arsed looking back at the exact lengthy title) – obviously of great relevance to the ‘procedure for former ministers’ team, you’d have thought.

    I’ll note here that there was a flurry of activity from the procedure development coterie to put together the commissioning letter, for the FM, from the 17th Nov 2017. This commissioning letter was the FM officially instructing the Permanent Secretary to go ahead and produce a bespoke procedure for staff complaints against ministers and former ministers, and was sent on the 22nd Nov.

    The second, XX054, (2 docs) were FAQ’s and further guidance on dealing with harassment complaints. This was sent to them on the 12th Dec 2017 – the week before the Procedure was hurriedly signed off by the FM.

    Gordon commented somewhere above that Leslie Evans seemed to be fairly smug about having such a bespoke Procedure in relation to what Westminster was doing, a bit of oneupmanship in evidence – I think I saw a bit of smugness in James Hynd’s demeanour too, when comparisons with Westminster were made. They’ve implied their colleagues down south weren’t doing enough, and even that they are still slacking. I can’t imagine LE is very popular with her colleagues in the south.

    Especially when those guidance docs and FAQs seem to cover everything they could ever need for dealing with historical allegations, including those against ministers.

    And the guidance seems to be following ACAS guidance, and possibly best practice, and they might have even listened to legal advice. The documents cover complaints against former employees as well as former ministers.

    All the stuff we’ve heard in evidence in the committee from the civil servants, about how difficult it was and it was all new and needed special treatment etc, was there, written down for them by the 17th Nov – they just needed to incorporate that into their fairness at work policy, then the job’s done.

    I didn’t scour the entirety of the documents but picked up enough, here’s a few extracts:

    “What if the subject of a complaint has left the civil service?
    The complainant should be informed that there is no effective sanction that the department can apply to former employees…” There was a bit like this for ex Ministers, and it mentioned there is nothing to compel the ex-employee to take part, and complainers should be informed of that.

    For ex-ministers there is a brief procedure: the HR Director is contacted immediately, and they liaise with the Propriety & Ethics Team in the Cabinet Office – they normally investigate any complaint against ministers or Special Advisors. (So, what’s so wrong with the same team in ScotGov, that they couldn’t handle it? And surely, having received this guidance, the Propriety & Ethics team should have been notified immediately for Ms B, and on the 22nd Nov for Ms A. The procedure that said ‘nah, don’t bother’ wasn’t complete yet)

    They also say: “…role of the Investigation Manager is to ESTABLISH FACTS and GATHER EVIDENCE”. Well, it seems these guys have no problem understanding the difference between facts and evidence – why couldn’t ScotGov just copy and paste this handy wee sentence into their procedure? A bit,,, sloppy of Lawyer1 not to have spotted this.

    Also: “The investigator must notify the HR Director and Head of Security as soon as it becomes apparent ,,, it may constitute a criminal offence”

    And: (although it is important to uphold) “,,, confidentiality of complainants, witnesses and the subject of the complaint, as well as the principles of natural justice. It is difficult to properly investigate anonymous complaints because the subject of the complaint needs to know the case they have to meet. In the interests of fairness, it is important that complainants and witnesses identify themselves. “… ‘those who don’t want to be identified should be warned that investigation might not be possible’. – well, well, fairness? I wonder how that sits with the fact that Leslie Evans refused to tell Alex Salmond the identity of any of the people making allegations against him. He had to guess, and guess while not being allowed access to official documents or possible witnesses. At the same time, LE continued to pressure him to answer to the complaints – some not even attributed to an individual or with a place or time. Civil Service guidance says that wasn’t fair, let alone Lord Pentland ruling it wasn’t fair.

    ‘Best practice’ – LE and her coterie ,,, well, it’s not true, none of what they say is true, or in good faith. They had all the guidance and procedure there to deal with any historical complaints, they didn’t need to make their own Micky-mouse quasi-judicial heap of madness – not for doing what’s best for potential victims anyway. She should be proving to us that the Propriety & Ethics team in the cabinet office are not fit for purpose, if she wants to justify taking over their role.

    Leslie Evan’s should also be answering questions about why they added the sanction for former Ministers into the procedure (whether the exMinister engages or not, LE ‘notes the outcome in SG’ – that is, I assume, so it is open to a FOI request.). And how is it she can lead an investigation, but at the same time not know the difference between facts and evidence? And, what makes her more qualified than the Propriety & Ethics team to carry out the investigation?

    Have I missed the committee asking these questions? I just have ‘duty of care’ ‘followed the SG procedure to the letter’ ‘legal advice’ ‘duty of care’ swirling round my head – maybe I missed a substantive answer?

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Absolutely use anything you want, if any part slots into your work, all the more worthwhile – even if it’s not why I think it’s relevant! In fact, it’s more interesting so see it from a different viewpoint,,, (be warned though: when I’m using inverted commas, I’m paraphrasing, not quoting).

        I’ve only got one other ,,, hm, two more, things I want to mention before giving it a rest – just want to get bits written down before I forget (back to the grind the morn) – I think it’s stuff you might have already mentioned before, so it shouldn’t be a distraction.

        Like

      2. Huh, I see I misconstrued you comment there Gordon – my actual answer is yes please, I’d like to see how you fit in the ‘bespoke process’ into the rest of it.

        I was trying to look through my own comments to see if I’d already done one on something, and they are just as much random and disordered as the evidence – and it annoys me, severely – I NEED things to be ordered. Enough of my personal problems. Except maybe to say, that’s one reason I really appreciate your articles – you take a confused disordered mess, and put it all into a blissfully ordered sequence and lots of context.

        I’m promising myself that I’ll only comment the substance of your next post instead of going off in a million random tangents, too.

        Don’t suppose you remember if I made a comment on a note from LE’s private secretary (2) to James Hynd et al on the 30th Nov 2017 (1FN32), with title “Perm Sec – [Redacted] – readout”, starting with saying “Perm Sec met [Redacted] for a regular 1-2-1 yesterday.”.

        Are they redacting ‘FM’ here? Who else would LE have a regular “1-2-1” with? Why redact FM if so? It’s most bizarre – but we might have already discussed it?

        My memory really is atrocious, hence why I didn’t even contemplate going into law! (Thank goodness)

        Like

      3. From the context, Contrary, I’d say it’s Evans’s equivalent at the Scottish Parliament — as opposed to Scottish Government — whoever that may be. There’s a reference to the “campus survey” being carried out by the “SP”, which Evans seems to have been updated on at the meeting. I can’t see Nicola being content to be given just a “heads up” about ANYTHING, so I’m pretty confident it’s not her.

        I’m locked away at home working on Part Two of the Coup, and making good progress, so any moment now…

        Here’s a sample, dealing with Ms B’s — on the face of it, rather odd — decision to go to Barbara Allison of all people with her allegations against Salmond :

        “As in other aspects of this whole affair, it may be that the MSPs on the Fabiani inquiry have had access to some information on this matter which has not been released to the public. Certainly, one of its members asked Evans a pointed question on this which suggests he had such information, but of course Sturgeon-stooge Fabiani was on hand to shut down the line of questioning before it could reveal anything significant:

        “Alex Cole-Hamilton: If I could draw it back specifically to Ms B, who raised a complaint and specifically asked that it be shared only with you.
        Leslie Evans: I do not recognise that at all.
        Alex Cole-Hamilton: Okay. You do not have a recollection of that, but—
        Leslie Evans: I do not have a recollection of Ms B asking for a complaint to be shared with me. I have a recollection of a concern—
        The Convener: Can I stop this here? I am becoming concerned again. That was not pulling it back.
        Alex Cole-Hamilton: I will move on.

        “The barrack-room lawyer distinction used here by Evans between a “complaint” and a “concern” – a distinction which was not even thought up by Evans and the rest as a back-covering device until much later in the process – is typical of the non-answer “answers” given to the inquiry by all of the civil servants, and presumably reflects the tens of thousands of pounds of public money spent on “preparing” them for their evidence.”

        Nae bad, if I do say so myself!

        Like

      4. Ah yes, yes of course, you’re correct there, I was reading that email out of context (or rather, in a different context) – there was a host of communications on the parliamentary contacts – the other person must have been fairly senior, you’d have thought they could have been given a title & number like the HR people.

        Oh yes, I remember that exchange with Alex Cole-Hamilton – but, even though LE was obviously being evasive until Fabiani rescued her, at the time I hadn’t realised the import of the ridiculous distinction between concern/complaint (allegation 😉 ) they were making – definitely a good idea to highlight that! Do you think this was the first it was dreamed up?

        Hm, the implication is that Batbara Allison was acting as gatekeeper to stop MsB getting near LE – which is interesting, because the whole team seem to have been gate keeping to stop MsA talking to the FM.

        In the phase 2 ‘tranche’ of docs, FN17 have emails with subject “RE: STAFF IN CONFIDENCE” and,,, more hm’s ,,, just reading my brief quotes I took from two, there is an interesting ‘redacted’ there:

        (They are discussing what to write to the complainers while offering a gander at the draft procedure I think, the “organisational response”)

        Barbara Allison emailing Nicola Richards, Gillian Russell, Judith Mackinnon on 29th Nov 217, says:
        “I think the individuals may wish to speak direct to FM and whilst we are trying to ensure their concerns are dealt with, we are not necessarily making that an option”

        Note ‘individuals’ plural there – I had thought it was Ms A and Ms B – but:

        Gillian Russell replies:

        “I have sent out notes to Ms A and [redacted] I agree that Ms A did indicate that she wanted to speak direct to the FM. I will wait and see what she comes back with.”

        Our mystery Ms C, perhaps?

        You just don’t get the feeling any of them care that much about the potential trauma of the complainers either – you could read ‘concerns’ above, not as our newly invented definition (perhaps recommended by those doing the coaching?!), but as concerns about anonymity, hah, if I wanted to be really cynical, concerns about a big enough back-hander!

        Hm, were ‘concerns’ given a new meaning to cover up for all the emails that used that term but not in relation to complaints? Interesting thought.

        Also of note: Gillian Russell said she was not aware of the policy change, but there she was sending two complainers the ‘still in development’ procedure. She probably said it in relation to an earlier date, knowing what civil servants are like. Hmph, Yes, Minister indeed. She might not be an insider, but she seems to know well enough how to cover her own arse.

        Also about Ms A – the weird meetings with John Somers – Alex Salmond added to that piece of information: she met him ‘in the First Minister’s office’. Since reading that I imagined Ms A trying to wrestle her way to the FM, but couldn’t get past Somers.

        Complainers desperate to talk to to top people in government? Not a good look. And I wouldn’t have thought typical victim behaviour either.

        Not bad at all, Gordon! But you can’t give me too many sneak previews or I’ll have already commented on it all by the time you publish.

        Like

  31. [Lawyer1] is definitely the ghost in the machine.

    I noted emails forwarded by James Hynd on the 30th Nov 2018 – he’d have been forwarding them for submission to the JR, I’d expect, but these were a bit unusually forwarded to Private Secretary 1 – that is, Leslie Evans office.

    They both just say “Final Draft v6.1”

    (That wasn’t the final final draft, it went up to v6.2 I think.)

    Anyway – these are a seemingly repeated set of emails (not unusual) in Phase1 FN23/XX031(p99) and XX035(p124). These emails say exactly the same thing, and both were sent at 11:45 (yes, it’s got that bad I’m noting times now) to the same person, it’s the email he was forwarding-on where it gets ‘interesting’.

    He’s forwarding the same email – or what seems like the same email.

    The date & time for that email is 27th Nov 2017 at 21:57. The subject heading is “RE: Official sensitive – next steps following Perm Sec discussion”. The content of the email is the same, starting “I can confirm I have the commission re the letters”. And says its attaching v6.1 of the procedure.

    All those seem to be exactly the same, so why twice submitted? The only thing different, is in that second XX035 version, Lawyer1 is missing from the list of recipients.

    (The original 27th Nov email can be found at Ph1FN23/XX040 (p139), and includes Lawyer1 in the list of recipients).

    So, how can you send an exactly the same worded email at exactly the same time to exactly the same person, forwarding exactly the same email in all respects (with the same version of the attachment) except for the missing recipient Lawyer1?

    It IS of course possible; you can prepare the forwarding emails in advance to say the same things and send them in quick succession – but why on earth would anyone do that, sending the exact same thing to the same person (there would be more than a minute delay if it was a mistake and oops better send the right version).

    I’ve had it with their stupid so-called evidence – I’m not a forensic investigator! I’m used to searching through old documents and piecing together information, but not when the docs have been altered after the fact to mislead people, only when it’s difficult to find because of poor record keeping (hah! Who said,,, ah yes, Robert, well if only all engineers understood the importance of FOLLOWING procedures, my life would be an awful lot easier).

    This probably doesn’t even mean anything – I’ve no idea – but try looking through the evidence and finding which version of the procedure was sent when – it’s impossible! Any reasonably sensible clerk should have put these in some kind of order – date-order or versions or anything, anything except the jumbled mess….

    I’m ranting aren’t I?

    I keep getting the ‘feeling’ that emails and notes have been altered after the fact – there is no, I don’t know the word, way to prove that anything is in its original form – but I don’t know what that would really look like or how to show it either – many emails have been forwarded twice (and so easily changed each time. I mean, really, are we expecting them to honestly submit evidence and leave in the bits that say ‘that should do it to bag that blighter Salmond’?). And, as soon as you start thinking the evidence is unsound,,,

    Like

    1. Contrary
      We engineers understand the importance of following procedures – and of trying them out on something inocuous first! None of my procedures survive unedited their first contact with reality. As happened here. The difference is that I don’t expect them to be right first time round.

      Like

    2. Robert,

      🙂 noted,

      I’ll compromise by saying ‘engineers know the importance of and follow procedures more than most people’…

      That’s as far as I’ll go! It’s the boring ones about filing and keeping things in proper order, correctly signed and dated, that they always seem to have bother remembering, mm?

      Like

    3. “Any reasonably sensible clerk”

      contrary – “sensible” wouldn’t be my choice of word in this context. Competent as in “any reasonably competent clerk” seems more appropriate.

      Like

  32. Okay-doke, another couple of things, that I’ve not fully investigated, because to be frank, it’s torture trying to find stuff and double check even when you have something fully referenced.

    Leslie Evans’ written evidence (21/1/21) after oral evidence of 12/1/21, she answers a question that a garbled Murdo Fraser asked – Did LE consult with individuals BEFORE disclosing to another party or the police? – LE claims “this was the approach taken” – and under the heading ‘Referral to COPFS’ she says Mr Fraser referenced a memo dated 3 November 2018 (I’ve still to check what on earth this is)(2018?) and states the relevant doc is INV315. Having just recently checked that doc out – I thought, eh? 23rd Nov 2017 – well before the procedure was complete?

    I’ve got the 24th Nov 2017 written down for INV315, but hey ho, dates and times aren’t something that are treated as absolute in the CS. Phase2FN15 is where this is located.

    This doc is headed “Official sensitive – sitrep on sexual harassment” and is from Nicola Richards to LE (cc JM). NR writes directly to Private Secretary 2 (LE’s Team), where she includes advice because the “Perm Sec is wrestling with her own next steps on this” [well, she really needn’t have been, because they’d already received guidance on all the ‘next steps’ they could ever need from the CSEP guys]

    Anyway – the advice LE appears to be claiming to follow above seems to be:

    “we would need to consult with the individual before disclosing to another party or the police”…”if they don’t want us… to go to the police, it would be very difficult to justify doing so.”

    There is a fair amount more, and all look to be topics for discussion rather than any kind of guidance.

    They are also again ‘finalising’ the procedure for former ministers – you wouldn’t believe the number of times it got ‘finalised’.

    How does that email from NR answer Murdo’s question? It doesn’t, as far as I can see, and it certainly doesn’t give LE any – ANY – justification for going to the Crown Office, and on to the police against the wishes of the complainers.

    I’ll need to find out what Murdo was actually asking and referencing to try and make sense of this.

    Like

  33. Its a rollicking good read. Can’t wait to see how it turns out. Could be a Booker in it. Certainly puts Dan Brown in the shade.

    Like

  34. This is a weird one from Nicola ‘Nicky’ Richards:

    1FN23/YY049(p223)
    14th Dec 2017 08:41

    “From: Richards N (Nicola)
    Sent: 14 December 2017 08:41
    To: [Redacted – Private Secretary 2]; Hynd JS (James)
    Cc: Mackinnon J (Judith); [Redacted – Head of Branch, People Directorate 1]

    Subject: RE: Official sensitive – policy on complaints against ministers

    Both

    I’ve amended the letter and policy in line with our exchange. If this looks OK I’d like first for us to run this past the unions before the final exchange with FM. I think I would just share the part about current ministers because that is what would form part of our revised F@W policy.

    I think the former ministers process is more for us to know what we would do rather than to have out there as a published policy. Although we would share it if asked.

    I’ve copied…”

    Final ‘exchange’ with the FM? Exchange? Just strange phrasing there. Why not a ‘discussion’ or a ‘meeting’?

    But after that, she says ‘let’s share with the unions, but let’s NOT share the part about former minister, because, oh you know, it’s just kind of there, we don’t need to publish it or anything, it’s just for us to use and NOT TELL ANYONE ABOUT’. Interesting very narrow-use workplace procedure that one, Nicky, eh? Lots of EFFORT to go to to produce something you didn’t want to publish, and already had a policy on from the wider civil teams, eh Nicky?

    Like

    1. Contrary, I think the “final exchange” relates to an exchange of letters anticipated by Hynd in earlier correspondence between Evans and Sturgeon in which Sturgeon would have answered what ultimately became Evans’s letter of 20 December 2017 asking the FM to sanction the procedure. That would indeed have been the normal process to get something so important agreed as official Government policy in response to a Cabinet “commission”.

      As you know, that didn’t happen and — so we are asked to believe — the procedure became official Government policy on 20 December 2017 by virtue of no more than a casual wee email from a civil servant saying the FM approved it.

      Like

    2. Interesting,,,

      That makes sense, so the earlier ‘our exchange’ may have just been a turn of phrase because she was thinking of the later ‘exchange’. The first one should have been ‘discussion’, and that made me think the second one was. Maybe (they could have been dealing drugs to each other for all I know).

      I’m still waiting for you to spill the beans on the 20th December date Gordon! There isn’t very much, like you say, to say the sign off happened on that date – what was it, one of LE’s and the FM’s -tête-à-tête notes that mentioned it? How were all the other policies signed off? We need evidence for your suspicions,,,

      And I hope it’s in Part 2 and I don’t have to wait until Part 3!

      Like

  35. Contrary, did you see the Rev Stu’s post on Wings where he talked about documents that were clearly related to the Salmond investigation but didn’t come up in any word search of the document database? An alert reader pointed out that the documents had been doctored to achieve just that. For instance a likely search term such as COPFS was written as C O P F S with spaces between the letters to defeat a search query. Since I can’t imagine that when the documents were first written they ever anticipated having to front up to an Inquiry, I suspect the doctoring happened after the fact when the Inquiry requested them. IIRC Stu said that the SG had deluged the Inquiry with 14,000 irrelevant documents, just not the ones that were relevant to their remit. Maybe they’re also trying to hide the needles in a paper haystack – the Inquiry can hardly read 14,000 pages of material so must use search terms to extract those that are relevant.

    I’m told that IT forensic specialists can establish a timeline of when documents are edited. If the Salmond documents were last edited immediately before submission to the Inquiry then it is proof that the SG is attempting to conceal evidence. I wonder whether this technique is being used more widely to frustrate FOI requests so that the SG can then claim “a search of our document database found no records that were relevant to your query”. In either case it’s surely illegal and should be reported to the Information Commissioner.

    Like

  36. I’ve seen a plausible explaination of the C O P F S etc. The suggestion is that paper documents have been scanned and then turned back into text by Optical Character Recognition (OCR). Apparently poor quality OCR can put in the extra spaces. [Source is a Wings comment that I can no longrt find.]

    Looking myself at one of the documents, there did seem to be a bit of raggedness and a change of font consistent with this having been done.

    Scanning a paper document would avoid passing on any documenent metadata such as number of revisions, and by whom.

    Like

      1. On the document I looked at (on a Wings post, which I can’t immediately find) every word I looked at had spaces between the letters. If anyone wants the reference, I’ll dig further.

        As to why, scanning a printed document removes metadata such as who wrote the document, and when it was edited.

        Or maybe, for some documents, you have a hard signed copy, and you want to be sure that it’s this version which is being published.

        Like

      2. Robert,

        The documents submitted have a full range of weird things – including broken words (missing letters), obviously printed and scanned, some with hand written notes over – pretty sure a blanked date or two, and spaced out words of course. Many emails have been forwarded twice, to themselves, obviously to submit as evidence, but you can’t tell what might have been edited on the forwarded email then either, I think?

        Like

    1. Yes I read that comment about the OCR, however I’m not convinced. You’d only use OCR to convert a hard copy into digitised text. Why do that when the SG had the original digitised text available? Besides Stu pointed out that this “error” only affected the Salmond documents, and not other searches using different search terms. I wouldn’t trust Sturgeon et al any further than I could kick them.

      Like

      1. Are there two sets of documents here? There are FoI documents on the SG website, which Stuart Campbell found difficult to search; and documents submitted to the Inquiry.

        I’ve look at only one document, the one posted up on Wings, and in the second of my two categories. That did sort of look scanned, and had the s p a c i n g issue.

        I wondered why anyone would scan a printed document. I was once on the committee of a small sports club, and we revised the constitution a few times. On going back to find the constitution a year or so later, there were a set of files: constitution_draft, constitution_final, constitution_final_edited, and the like. The only version I could trust was the scan of a printed document with signatures on it,

        Maybe the same thing is going on here? So not conspiracy? Though I’ve pointed out that scanning a printed document removes the metadata, if you prefer conspiracy.

        Like

  37. For anyone tuning in for updates on when Part Two of the Coup is coming here’s part of a reply I just made to a comment of Contrary’s a wee bit above:

    I’m locked away at home working on Part Two of the Coup, and making good progress, so any moment now…

    Here’s a sample, dealing with Ms B’s — on the face of it, rather odd — decision to go to Barbara Allison of all people with her allegations against Salmond :

    “As in other aspects of this whole affair, it may be that the MSPs on the Fabiani inquiry have had access to some information on this matter which has not been released to the public. Certainly, one of its members asked Evans a pointed question on this which suggests he had such information, but of course Sturgeon-stooge Fabiani was on hand to shut down the line of questioning before it could reveal anything significant:

    “Alex Cole-Hamilton: If I could draw it back specifically to Ms B, who raised a complaint and specifically asked that it be shared only with you.
    Leslie Evans: I do not recognise that at all.
    Alex Cole-Hamilton: Okay. You do not have a recollection of that, but—
    Leslie Evans: I do not have a recollection of Ms B asking for a complaint to be shared with me. I have a recollection of a concern—
    The Convener: Can I stop this here? I am becoming concerned again. That was not pulling it back.
    Alex Cole-Hamilton: I will move on.

    “The barrack-room lawyer distinction used here by Evans between a “complaint” and a “concern” – a distinction which was not even thought up by Evans and the rest as a back-covering device until much later in the process – is typical of the non-answer “answers” given to the inquiry by all of the civil servants, and presumably reflects the tens of thousands of pounds of public money spent on “preparing” them for their evidence.”

    Plenty more like that when I get it done.

    Like

  38. Might I park this here Mr Dangerfield.

    Rt. Hon. John Smith QC MP

    In December 1993 MAI plc acquired Anglia.

    The terms of agreement put to the shareholders incorporated this statement:

    “The Board of MAI have given assurances to the Board of Anglia that all employee rights, including pension rights, will be fully safeguarded.”

    On that basis the employee share ownership fund accepted the offer.

    Two months later, Michael Heseltine, Minister of the Crown at the DTI and President of the Board of Trade opened an investigation into insider trading, by Lord and Lady Archer.

    All the directors were questioned by the inspectors. All will have taken legal advice. All will have been told to discuss Anglia with NOBODY AT ALL.

    Some bright spark at MAI realized, “hey, the Board of Anglia is paralyzed. They can’t do a thing to enforce those assurances we gave, on pain of self incrimination.”

    So Lord Hollick put the squeeze on the Chairman of Anglia. A Board meeting was scheduled for 14 April.

    Three directors of MAI were appointed to the Board of Anglia, being Lord Hollick, Peter Hickson and Roger Laughton.

    Another Board meeting was scheduled for 10 May 1994.

    At that next meeting the MAI trio took over. They outlined a savage slash and burn, pillage and rape, completely at odds with the assurances given employees prior to the takeover.

    The meeting broke up in disarray. The “old” Anglia Directors fled and hid. The Chairman resigned and backdated his resignation to 30 April, that is, before that Board meeting of 10 May.

    So far as the official records are concerned there was a Board meeting on 14 April 1994, then another on 21 July 1994, and nothing in-between. So far as the official records at Companies House are concerned there never was a meeting on 10 May.

    (You see the parallels with the Scottish Government records of meetings with Nicola Sturgeon)

    The plan was then hatched to parachute in Malcolm Wall as the phony Managing Director. That is, on or just after 10 May 1994.

    John Smith “died suddenly” on 12 May 1994.

    You see it wasn’t just about Anglia Television and the employees thereof.

    John Smith was an unexpected leader of the Labour Party. Neil Kinnock had been widely forecast to win the General Election in1992, but the idiot messed it up.

    If John Smith would not knuckle under for this, then he certainly would not go along with her plans to subjugate Scotland.

    The phony parliament with the backdoor to the legal system we are watching with amazement today.

    He had to be removed.

    What sayeth the Bard?

    If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well
    It were done quickly

    And that tells me that the assassin was very close indeed to John Smith.

    I know the identity of that assassin. More importantly, so does Sarah Smith, John Smith’s daughter and prominent NUJ member in good standing.

    And even though that meeting never took place on 10 May 1994, I have the minutes. How fortunate I am!

    Cast of Characters:

    https://find-and-update.company-information.service.gov.uk/company/00611130/officers

    Like

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