My apologies to all of my readers who are eagerly awaiting Parts Three and Four of A Very Scottish Coup, and especially to all of my readers who are journalists with the Murdoch and Newsquest titles, but I just had to take this short break to let you all know that the events I have been describing in this blog since early September 2020 are now officially news.
Yesterday the Scottish Sun, in a long story headlined “Nicola Sturgeon faces ‘serious questions’…” and today The Herald in a story headlined “… Nicola Sturgeon told ‘buck stops with her’…” (faithfully attributing the story to the Scottish Sun as of course it wouldn’t do to plagiarise without attribution) have lifted wholesale the stories I was pleased to bring to you here and here and here and in various other posts on this blog.
As everyone knows, when such things are written in a blog and ignored by the mainstream media, they are not news. They are irrelevant at best, and at worst – the usual case, actually – they are conspiracy theories, deranged “Trumpian” ramblings or, in a recent SNP formulation, vile “alt-right” dogma.
This is the case, as we all again know, even if they are written by someone like Stuart Campbell, whose prodigious output over many years shows him to be well left of centre on every important issue, or for that matter by myself, an activist in the Labour Party Young Socialists when I was barely out of my teens, a Labour Councillor in my twenties, a campaigner against the poll tax and bedroom tax, veteran of a thousand marches and rallies against illegal wars, nuclear weapons, racism, sexism, homophobia, etc, etc, etc, and still now at the age of 58 as committed a libertarian socialist as I’ve been all my adult life.
And of course this is why Nicola Sturgeon and her Government have recently given £3 million of public money to the mainstream unionist media which despises her, and despises the SNP, while simultaneously seeking to make it an offence worthy of expulsion from the Party to read or share pro-independence bloggers of proven commitment like Stuart Campbell.
Because, although in our provision always of evidence, of sources for all claims made, and of rational analysis and argument, it might appear to the uninitiated that bloggers like Stuart and myself are producing news, it only becomes that precious commodity when given that vital seal of approval by the likes of Murdoch and his corporate colleagues.
So thank you Nicola, and thank you Rupert, and thank you whoever gives the journalists their orders at Newsquest for turning the stories on my humble wee blog at last into actual news.
I hope this will serve as an inspiration to all of you other bloggers out there. If you work hard, and be all you can be and dare to dream and never quit – oh, and if it happens to serve their interests for some reason at any particular time – you too might one day find your work anointed by the mainstream media as real live news.
241 thoughts on “IN SHOCK MOVE, BLOG TRANSITIONS TO NEWS”
Quick question. I’m hoping to watch NS at the Committee today. I’m outside the UK and need a VPN, and it appears that the Scottish Parliament Channel won’t grant direct access. I did access the feed through a third party provider and was able to watch AS evidence, but I can’t remember the name of the site. Can anybody help?
I don’t know if you got to watch but I’m outside the UK and I got to watch Scot Parliament TV without using a VPN.
After my daily dose of radio BBC Scotland news, we can of course conclude they are very much covering over many aspects of Nicola Sturgeon’s involvement in the unlawful procedure. I won’t bother repeating Glenn Campbell’s summary of events, he was just emphasising ‘there’s nothing to see here’ and giving a light whitewash over events – the whitewash was a bit runny and see-through, but the public that have not taken a particular interest would believe that it was all just a couple of wee technical – boring – details where she might have gone wrong.
Andrew Tickell popped in to give his expert opinion on legal aspects – not a jobbing lawyer, but a lecturer at Glasgow Caledonian Uni – ah, our future lawyers are being trained by such as him. A worrying thing. You’d have thought, if you were a legal lecturer, and you were giving a legal opinion on the BBC, that you might like to be a bit more thorough in your reading and analysis before making that opinion public?
In fact, it was a remarkable feat in ignoring the huge amount of evidence from Levy & McRae letters and the Open Record of the JR detailing all the petitioners arguments, for Dr Tickell to say that the government submission gives us some idea of Alex Salmond’s arguments.
Well, Dr Tickell, if you teach your baby lawyers only to look at one side of an argument because it suits you politically, I think I will be body-swerving all those baby lawyers once matured and asking for my custom. Nice effort in trashing the reputation of a university department there, by the way.
He reinforced the government’s narrow opinion, and wrong opinion, on the terms in which the government conceded the JR – no, Dr Tickell, a very short and easily read document states clearly that the Decision report, that is, Leslie Evans, as well as all the investigation reports – that is both the IO and Leslie Evans – conceded the case on apparent bias and procedural unfairness, and unlawfulness.
Dr Tickell, then went on to suggest that maybe the gov’t wanted to test the procedure’s legality and fairness itself at the JR – and THAT’S WHY they continued the case against legal advice (this is their ‘public policy’ interest, or whatever, argument they are using, I suspect), aside from the procedural bias, which was the only thing ruled on, he says. Well, they shouldn’t have conceded the case then Dr Tickell, and would have been EAGER to take up Mr Salmond Salmond’s offer of legal arbitration, then Mr Tickell – wouldn’t they?!
Can anyone comment what ‘legal advice’ it was that Leslie Evans FOLLOWED? That’s not what the gov’t has published. John Swinney, in his last letter to the Committee, suggests that legal advice can be many and varied,,, um, yes, thanks Mr Swinney, very useful – so which advice was it that was followed?
Mr Swinney, where is the evidence for November 2018? – would this perchance be the month in which Nicola Sturgeon was heavily involved in ignoring that legal advice too, and it might be inconvenient for her if you mentioned it?
The judicial review stuff, and the meetings Nicola Sturgeon had 29th March/ 2nd April – easily proven that she lied – her written submission concentrates on that last subject. For the rest, the procedure development, and the investigation she says ‘look at the gov’t submissions’. (In her written ‘evidence’) THOSE are the areas she’s covering up. Those are the parts that would show her not just to be going along with the crowd, those will show her to be an instigator.
Who thought we’d ever be trying to put the leader of the SNP on the stand and remove her? But she’s like a leech clinging on and extracting as much life blood as she can from us: convention would be that she stood down long before now, convention would be that she’d have ‘allowed’ Leslie Evans to stand down long before now. There are no conventions now. Leeches, the lot of then.
If the Tories mess this up,,,
I’m pleased to see that most Indy bloggers have taken on board your earlier arguments Gordon, that NS should have been told about the complaints straight away. I wish you had time to get the rest of the Coup out – (yes yes I’m a nag) – did Nicola Sturgeon really sign off that Procedure on the 20th of Dec? Was it done properly? How do we show this, if not?
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Contrary, I’d intended to have parts 3 and 4 done before Alex Salmond’s evidence, let alone Nicola Sturgeon’s, but now I’m going to wait until the transcript of Sturgeon’s evidence is available and then feed that in.
She has already said one thing that bears further thought, namely that her reason for being informed about complaints against current Ministers but not former ones is that she might have to consider whether a current Minister is still fit for office before the formal investigation and decision-making process even starts.
That seems to drive a coach and horses through the whole “can’t intervene” argument. If she can pre-judge the issue like that in a process for current Ministers where SHE IS THE ULTIMATE DECISION-MAKER, why on earth should she not get to hear about a complaint where she has NO ROLE WHATSOEVER in making the decision?
On your other points, there is, as you say, something decidedly fishy about the way the procedure was “signed off” on 20 December without the formal exchange of letters that Hynd anticipated and that Evans’s letter just dated “December 2017” was undoubtedly intended (with a specific date added) to be one half of. That senior civil servants in HR, among others, clearly thought there was room for revision late into January 2018 and that the procedure was not even put on the SG intranet until February 2018 and not published until August 2018 are also clearly relevant facts. And of course when it WAS finally published in August 2018, that came with the blatant lie that it had been put on the intranet at the time of being adopted — i.e. 20 December 2017. It was only when Jackie Baillie challenged this at an early inquiry hearing that this lie was corrected.
The reason for all of this is obvious and Salmond’s lawyers were onto it in their pleadings. If there was no procedure on 16 and 23 January 2018, how could there be complaints being processed on the basis of it? The people (outside of Evans etc) who should know the most about what the conventions and requirements are for procedures like this to become formal SG policy are Salmond and Sturgeon. I was disappointed that Salmond didn’t address it. Let’s see if Sturgeon does.
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As you say Gordon, about her reasoning for being the decision maker for current ministers but not former minister making no sense whatsoever (not much of her reasoning did, and she missed some glaringly obvious points about the flaws in her logic too). I’ll have to review the transcript, but I’m sure she went into detail about how it was ‘her’ decision to not be included in the former ministers decision making process – we appear to be lacking evidence of that decision and she didn’t ‘think’ it had been discussed at cabinet. (Again, I’ll have to review the transcript – my brain has been through a mincer listening to her ,,, evidence)
There was nearly only one date that she was very sure of, so confident she repeated it many times – the 20th Dec.
I missed bits of her testimony – did she ‘clarify’ for us how the procedure could be used before being published? I’m not sure she’d know – she doesn’t appear to be very well versed in gov’t policies, procedures, or codes of conduct. Even I was disappointed by her performance, and I’m not exactly rooting for her! I expected an iota of professionalism I suppose, just so we weren’t wholly embarrassed – maybe that the SNP could have retained an iota of dignity as a party for supporting her.
Oh, did she not say she’d provide a copy of the ‘letters’ to the committee – if she’s allowed to or in private or some other nonsense caveat?
She didn’t even do well sticking to the concerns/complaints distinction, did she?
I guess we can look forward to a big pile of corrections to her misremembered excuses (it wasn’t really evidence was it?)…
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I’ve been watching with wide-eyed, open-mouthed, incredulity at NS’s oral evidence ,,,
Yes, you are going to set by a while with getting Coup’s parts 3 to,,, approx. 20 parts I think you’ll need now! – after incorporating this,,, car crash? Is that the best way to describe it? Of an evidence session. Did I pick up these things up correctly:
1) she is putting Alex Salmond on trial again with impunity.
2) she can’t offer evidence but thinks the rest of the world is lying.
3) she is desperately trying to muddy every single puddle that’s been formed.
4) she doesn’t have a clue, and never knew, what the fairness at work policy said, or her duties pertaining to it, and still doesn’t understand the responsibility of her role in relation to civil service policy.
5) she said IT WAS HER DECISION to exclude herself from the procedure.
6) she thinks confidentiality is important, but can’t be arsed investigating any breaches.
7) it’s all Alex Salmond’s fault because he has an ego.
Lots of other bits in there obscured by waffle. I thought Jackie Baillie made a good fist of getting facts.
Back to it! (Work, of course, phew, thank goodness I have anonymity!! I’m not watching anything on parliament tv, at all, your honour)
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8) she said the SNP reviewed its processes in Nov 2017 – but I believe Murrell said they hadn’t been updated in about two centuries?
Convention in most political parties across the world would be that Sturgeon would have been ditched long ago as the least worse outcome.
‘Least worst outcome’, indeed, I can only agree Sam. I have never seen so many contradictory statements by one person in any 8 hour period, and the casual ‘feelz’ demeanour of her presentation did not in any way convince me she takes any of this seriously. I was appalled.
We should do a sweep – how many times did Nicola Sturgeon say Alex Salmond’s name? I estimate 480 times.
How many times did Alex Salmond say Nicola Sturgeon’s name? I estimate 3. (I think the transcript of his evidence is published, but I haven’t read it yet)
I believe she should be supervised making tea, such is the poverty of her comprehension and decision making ability. What happened to the smooth-talking world leader?!
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Q: if the complaints had already been handed to the police (Aug 2018), why was it important – so important that they’d have endless expense of legal advice & meetings involving top people in government – to continùe, or even bother to challenge, the judicial review. Surely all previous investigations were null and void when the police started their investigation? The unlawfulness or otherwise of the procedure surely didn’t matter, from the point of view of the complainants?
My point there was: there is an emphasis on discussing legal advice and making the best decision, and public interest, and testing the policy, etc etc – details – why are they debating this when the Scottish gov’t could have quietly and confidentially conceded before the judicial review started – the case was out of their hands, the decision report was of no use to anyone, and so the whole investigation of no consequence (except to the trauma of Alex Salmond, and the complainers) – handing the complaints to the police made the gov’t procedure & investigation irrelevant – so why the decision to defend the JR in the first place (whether or not they had a case)?
They could have ditched that procedure and wrote a new one & would the wider staff have ever known about it?
None of the gov’t decisions make any sense! (If you try to apply logic, and assume they had no ulterior motive). Where was the driving NEED for them to justify the Procedure?
Contrary, just the police investigation itself wasn’t enough, they needed Salmond to be charged. If he had then been convicted, it would have been game over. I’ve started to read the transcript of Sturgeon’s evidence (I couldn’t bring myself to carry on watching the live version after the first few minutes) and the time she spends denouncing these obvious facts as “bizarre” theories, and anyone who points them out as loonies, is significant.
I mean, on the face of it (is that what ‘prima facie’ in Latin, spelling might be wrong, means?)(as an aside!) – IF, as they claim, they made all the right decisions, and the complainers were at the heart of the process,,, and it was the procedure and their actions that were being questioned (although AS was denying the complaints, they weren’t the substance of the JR), by passing on the complaints themselves to the police – their responsibility as employers then, were as mere support, there was no reason to defend that procedure’s lawfulness on the basis of those two complaints they’d (unlawfully) investigated.
They didn’t need to defend their investigation against Salmond – there was a new investigation, where the old unlawful one would have no impact – so the decision to defend the JR at all had nothing to do with ensuring complaints were being treated seriously, and if they had avoided publicity, they could have written an apology, scrapped the procedure, written a new one (perhaps following advice this time), and quietly allowed the criminal prosecution to run its course. The criminal prosecution was not predicated on the government’s actions (in theory) – and their initial unlawful investigation could have been buried with few people being any the wiser.
Ugh. I’m trying to pick out one aspect, and apply logic to it in an IF they did indeed have the best of intentions, would that have been the decision you’d make, at that point in time? I’m not doing it well, though.
Let’s say – IF it was genuinely a series of blunders that had led them to carrying out the investigation and create the procedure, in their enthusiasm to see all men cast as sex pests, that is: their INTENTIONS were good (in theory, from their point of view), just that they were incompetent – they took, what, a month to decide if they should contest the JR, plenty time to reflect, and they’d already made the decision to pass the complaints to the police, so had already enacted the ‘decision’ – whether or not that should have happened is irrelevant in the context of the complaints being a criminal matter by then. Law officers say ‘well, Alex Salmond’s lawyers have quite a few good points, it won’t be a slam dunk’.
On the decision tree – do you go ahead and defend – that is, on what basis are they defending the procedure? Not for the complaints or complainers themselves – those are out of your hands – so an inability to admit to making a mistake – personal ego? Not a good reason in government. Do you not defend,,, and admit a mistake: but that in no way takes away from the complaints themselves (it’s no longer a ‘workplace’ issue).
If they didn’t defend the JR, at what point would the gov’t be asked to justify their earlier actions – if AS prosecuted them? That would be uncertain (due to confidentiality, would he want to if nothing ever came of it?). They say they had already had an FOI request (Levy & McRae had to remind the gov’t of their legal obligations regarding data protection & confidentiality) – but they were not obliged to answer that re actual complaints.
IF, on the other hand, your entire purpose was to ensure the complaints were publicised, then you WOULD need to defend the procedure/investigation – because the whole thing would be in the public domain then.
My argument here – badly put I know – is that the entire premise of that decision to defend the JR, at all, was for the sole purpose of ensuring the complaints against AS could become public.
Legal advice aside – because someone has to WANT to defend a legal action before legal advice is sought – so why did they WANT to do it? If it was just because they thought they’d done a grand job (against all reason), then it was ego that made them defend it (heads should roll). If they did have ulterior nefarious reasons – breaking confidentiality and trying to put a smattering of legitimacy onto the complaints and to publicise them – heads should roll.
Are there any other reasons for having the desire to defend the JR? You know, ones that could be applied to show a legitimate reason (however shoogly, in the warped civil service granular world) for expressing the desire to defend the procedure/investigation in the first place?
Ego, or publicity, or,,, ?
NS was heavily involved in the decisions to defend the JR, going by her waffly vague testimony, but good luck pinning her down to who it was that made the decision, or getting her to take responsibility for anything.
I think the fix may have been in these past 3 years and that may ultimately prove to be what this is all about. The end result being that we independence supporters ‘will have to come to accept something less than independence’.
Hopefully not though…
If there were a plot, could the police have spotted it? Would they have had to be directed to look?
I think the police have to be directed, Robert.
I can’t see them looking into such things – or even if they collected evidence of such, it would probably be up to the prosecutor to decide if it was actionable. I’m not sure of course, but I don’t think the police normally ever decide on what to investigate (like, it would be triggered by a complaint made, or a crime reported, or PF asking for investigation)
i worry that if the Committee tries to investigate criminality – which it is being asked to do – it’s not only doing something it’s not trained to do, but also risks having its investigation declared unfair, unlawful, and tainted with apparent bias. I do hope that if they suspect criminality, they will recommend police investigation. Despite the fun of playing policeman!
Having witnesses making statements under oath without representation might compromise a future trial – and i do envisage a future trial.
I see where you are coming from now Robert. I think this is a difficult cross-over, but this would be civil wrong-doing rather than criminal so far – if there was fraud or something, I’d assume they’d hand that to the police immediately. But where do we go if it turns out a Government – a public body – perverted the course of justice, or whatever it might be when you try and get someone wrongly imprisoned,,,
But that’s the evidence that is being suppressed, isn’t it? If the committee gets sight of that evidence, I guess it needs to decide if it constitutes criminal behaviour. At the moment they aren’t investigating criminal behaviour, but the normal codes of conduct and best practice have broken down – that’s what the evidence says – and that’s what they are investigating. Maybe they’ll conclude grounds for a criminal investigation, but I don’t think the committee investigation in and of itself can be accused of doing anything wrong, or compromise future prosecutions – which, like you, I believe there will be.
Whatever the committee find is likely to be unsatisfactory, and their ability to take action on any findings unsatisfactory, and I doubt any of it will rest after they conclude.
I didn’t realise until I read some comments after Nicola Sturgeon’s appearance that a large number of people expected something ground-breaking by the end of it – obviously people that haven’t been watching all the other sessions I think – but all I expected was just more pieces of the puzzle (though we are not much the wiser even after 8 hours, except to know she really hates Alex Salmond, but projects her own feelings on to him, and she’s a shit FM).
And, the inquiry itself, is only one piece in the grand scheme of things too – I’d hoped it would be enough pressure to get the FM to stand down before the GE, but NS doesn’t have even a smidgen of integrity or principle, so it hasn’t worked.
I’m not sure what the best is we can hope for now – the Committee suggests criminal behaviour (do we trust that to be properly investigated?)? – calls for a judge-led inquiry? – parliament calls for a VONC in the Government (as opposed to just NS)? – the committee will surely condemn the actions of the government – whatever their opinion of a conspiracy against Alex Salmond, the gov’t has definitely let down the complainers – and so all staff – and they have done nothing to try and remedy it or take responsibility for it.
The civil servants and NS are pretending they did the right thing – when patently they didn’t – obviously to cover up a bigger wrong-doing (the conspiracy) – and in doing so, there is no other conclusion other than they made an absolute dogs dinner of the whole thing, making every single wrong decision that could be made, and subjected both the complainers and Alex Salmond to excruciating incompetence and unfair treatment. They haven’t repented for those actions, so I hope there is some serious form of suffering that can be imposed.
The conspiracy – or some other form of criminal behaviour – is the only reason I can see for covering up and showing such extreme incompetence – but that would need to be a seperate inquiry with a different remit. But – if it includes the Crown Office, it’s possible no judge would want to touch it, I’m thinking.
If individual prosecutions – maybe in civil court – could be brought against each person involved,,,
From the point of view of trying to remove NS from her leadership position – it’ll need a crowbar, and the MSPs to stop supporting her, but they’re all fantasists it looks like.
I won’t be voting for the SNP – they’ve failed, on every front, and not salvageable. Always vote with your conscience. That’s my only option left to try and remove that vile creature from being head of government. Anyone standing on a plebiscite for independence in May can have my vote (within the limits of my conscience, on a ‘least worst’ basis).
Contrary, I think their big hope is that if everything keeps coming out piecemeal as it has, and if everyone trying to put the pieces together into a coherent picture can keep being denounced as a mad conspiracy theorist, then the truth need never come out.
The big examples of this are Sturgeon’s removal from the process, the tailoring of the process to the specific wants of the Salmond complainers, the switch to criminal complaints by the two complainers and the drumming up of other complaints to support them, the defence of the judicial review for as long as possible in the hope that the police charges would come and render it irrelevant, and of course — by far the biggest example of all, which must continue indefinitely if all of this is to work — the continued hiding from the public of who these complainers are, how powerful they are, and how close they are to Sturgeon such that it is inconceivable they could have acted as they did without her active support.
For me, as someone who has chosen to represent genuinely vulnerable clients all my life as a lawyer, and who knows who these powerful complainers are, Sturgeon’s nauseating tearful charade in support of them yesterday was simply unwatchable.
Nauseating charade is exactly what Nicola Sturgeon’s performance was – the tearful episodes telling us of how upset she was, just told me she wasn’t fit for office: if she can’t make good decisions while upset she isn’t fit for office; if she’s playing the crowd as the poor wee lassie using tears, she isn’t fit for office. No decorum, no decency. The whole thing was ,,, awful.
Yet radio Scotland was raving this morning about how well she’d done, and that cleared everything up, how there wasn’t a conspiracy after all,,, I was aghast. Some unionist newspaper hack was painting her in words of glory, how fabulously she’d done,,, (but even she thought it unlikely people had joined the SNP in droves based on it!). Someone gives a tearful rambling ‘I’ve forgotten everything’ list of excuses with zero evidence – except her word – and the unionists suddenly think that constitutes proof of no conspiracy?! Wow.
And the people supporting Sturgeon think that I should hold this unionist view,,, for the sake of independence – don’t theenk so.
Yes, I agree, the piecemeal and disordered production of evidence is in the hope everyone will get bored and never care what the truth is. People don’t even have half a clue – you can’t, if all you do is get your news from the MSM – but trying to explain things in a coherent summarised way to people is difficult, or how to explain; it’s not what’s reported that’re the important bits. What does a few days matter? They ask about the 2nd April date ,,, well, that’s not even half of it. ‘Salmond admitted inappropriate behaviour’ they claim, really, did he, and where did they get that information, what was it, and what is our FM doing continually repeating it, and if it isn’t criminal then (etc).
Apologies, I’m just rambling on with my outrage there.
I admit I don’t know enough about who’s who in politics – and I suspect most people won’t either – to understand the real significance about the identities of the accusers – yes it would reveal that they aren’t vulnerable wee lassies, but I think the impact will be less, on the general public, that you & other politically aware folk believe. Not when people aren’t even aware of half the lies Sturgeon has told. The anonymity thing should be dropped though, it’s just become a total charade, being used to cover up for every evasion of the truth.
Tommy Sheridan’s latest podcast with Kenny McKaskill MP is good – he’s being fairly frank about how Leslie Evans needs to go, and the Crown Office leadership needs cleared out – and he’s critical of the Lord Advocate – and states that the Ceown Office has abused the anonymity order. Kenny doesn’t say how all these things are to somehow miraculously get sorted out though.
I meant to post the Tommy Talks podcast link:
(Robert, I thought this would be of interest for our ‘criminality’ chat)
Contrary, they certainly ain’t vulnerable wee lassies. That’s why it is disgusting the way the BBC and Rape Crisis Scotland portray them. Sturgeon has corrupted everybody around her. Goodness know what she will do with another 5 years in power.
6 months in jail for the independence activist who stupidly named some of them.
Mark Hirst and Craig Murray attacked.
That is Sturgeons Scotland. Populism/ authoritarianism but no referendum.
Aside of the utterly untrustworthy witness that Nicola Sturgeon to be one thing that I found quite outrageous was how the First Minister blamed legal advice from Counsel for causing the government to decide to contest the Court of Session action – before then throwing in the towel and conceding.
Now if I believe my memory to be correct, the First Minister actually predicated the decision to contest the Court of Session action on the basis of the “ spectrum of advice” received.
Given that the government paid big money for expensive legal advice upon which they decided to contest the action, before then throwing in the towel at further huge legal expense, this of itself calls into question the quality of the advice given to the government.
To be told by Salmond’s legal team that the procedure was illegal and biased but to be then given advice that persuades you continue to contest, more than suggests that Council for the government were drinking at the fountain of fee largesse for less than quality advice. That is most certainly the implication in the First Minister’s statements.
Certainly coming across there’s a lot of high paid duff advice on the go. But we don’t really know because it’s a secret.
They threw in the towel because they could no longer conceal the prior involvement of the investigating officer. Prior to that they had a stateable case.
I think that’s a little harsh on external counsel, Willie. They can only advise their client based on the starting point of what the client says they have done so far, which *should* allow counsel to say “this is the position you’re in at the moment, so your options are X, Y or Z.” If you read through the legal advice finally released on Tuesday of this week, it’s quite obvious that the Scottish Government did not fully brief counsel at the outset and only revealed the whole picture in dribs and drabs over time. Little wonder the legal advice changed accordingly.
Fair enough Rhadamanthus.
If the client gives misleading or incorrect detail of what has been going on then it is no surprise that opinion and advice changes. But that was not my principal complaint here. My principal complaint was that the First Minister predicated the blame for decision to fight a hopeless case on the ‘ spectrum of advice ‘ provided by Counsel.
That in my language is to say that it wasn’t the fault of the government but the fault of the legal counsel. That being so, much I not unreasonably as a taxpayer feel extremely uncomfortable having to contribute to payment to counsel for the dodgy advice and then for the payment of all of the winning party’s legal costs and expenses.
Counsel may well be innocent of bad advice but that is not what the First Minister said in her evidence. Moreover, at an early stage long before the case was conceded, even started, Alex Salmond shared with the First Minister his legal advice that the government would lose in a Court case.
The spectrum of advice upon which the government relied seems thus to have been utterly flawed and the advisers fingered accordingly.
From a non legal background I find this situation utterly appalling. I don’t know what was spent in terms of the totality of legal costs between the parties, but if Salmond’s costs were over £500,000 the other side’s must have been similar and then there’s all the administrative time.
So yes, whilst it may seem a little harsh in some eyes to criticise we the public should never lose sight of the fact that the Government fought this utterly flawed case on the basis of advice provided by Counsel that we the public paid big money for.
No wonder many in the legal profession are now held in such low disregard, and if I am, in the particular circumstances being harsh, then I trust Counsel will understand why. You are getting the blame, and the zFirst Minister swears so.
Rhadamanthus, I’m actually surprised that external counsel were as positive as they were on some areas, like retrospectivity and lack of procedural fairness, which were built into the policy regardless of how it was applied. I remain firmly of the view that the court would have found in Salmond’s favour on those grounds too.
However, the point you make is the crucial one, given the view that counsel did take. If Evans and crew had been honest from the start about Mackinnon’s involvement — and Evans’s own — with the complainers, the other grounds would not have mattered because counsel would have been telling the SG from the start that they could not win.
I’m still not clear what it was about the procedure that was illegal and unfair (not that I’m defending it, mind). The retrospectivity is clearly questionable and MacKinnon’s dual role as first an advocate for the complainants and then the supposedly independent investigator raises the suspicion of bias. Was it solely the retrospective aspect that made it illegal or were there other elements as well? Is it unfair because it denies the person subject to the complaints (Salmond) the opportunity to defend themselves against the allegations? And was it inherent in the procedure itself or in how Mackinon and Evans chose to implement it?
I expect to hear Ruth Davidson at FMQs today say something about the Tory claim of alleged breaches of the Ministerial Code by Ms Surgeon. 38 times is their claim.
You may access the Code here https://www.gov.scot/publications/scottish-ministerial-code-2018-edition/pages/2/
These are parts of the early paragraphs. It’s like Munro bagging.She’s already bagged 1.2 and 1.3
“1.2. Ministers should be professional in all their dealings and treat all those with whom they come into contact with consideration and respect. Working relationships, including with civil servants, Ministerial and Parliamentary colleagues and Parliamentary staff should be proper and appropriate. Harassing, bullying or other inappropriate or discriminating behaviour, wherever it takes place, is not consistent with the Ministerial Code and will not be tolerated.
1.3. The Ministerial Code should be read against the background of the overarching duty on Ministers to comply with the law, including international law and treaty obligations, and to uphold the administration of justice and to protect the integrity of public life….”
Her behaviour towards Mr Salmond is certainly inappropriate as she continually insinuates guilt and may also be bullying and harassment.
Unfortunately, sam, Mr Salmond is not an employee, so has no workplace policy to protect him from the bullying and harassment…
I might have identified a ‘gap’ there…
Contrary, the paragraph I listed says, “treat all those with whom they come into contact with consideration and respect…….Harassing, bullying or other inappropriate or discriminating behaviour, wherever it takes place, is not consistent with the Ministerial Code and will not be tolerated.”
It does not speak of employees.
To harass is to make repeated small-scale attacks on (an enemy) …..and…
subject to aggressive pressure or intimidation.
It rather depends whether Alex Salmond feels he has had that treatment. If he feels he has had such treatment, it is something he could take to Mr Hamilton, QC. (You were estimating the number of times that Mr Salmond had his name taken in vain yesterday by the FM)
Gordon, I was just reading through one of your earlier posts:
It’s good to review these things – ahem, yes, I’d forgotten a lot of the detail you set out here (though remembered in broad terms the principles behind it)
The final questions are about ‘did Nicola Sturgeon know about the recast procedure’ – and she has now said in oral evidence (yes yes, I’ll try and substantiate this by finding it in the transcript) that it WAS her that decided to exclude herself from the Procedure. I’m not sure if this makes any difference – we know that she approved of the procedure, but this implies that she requested the ‘recast’ – maybe?
Contrary, like you I’m looking at the transcript to see if she gives any specification of what she knew and when. I’ll be very surprised if she does because, as with every other SG witness, giving any amount of detail would bring the whole house of cards of her evidence tumbling down.
On that general subject, whoever wrote into the inquiry’s remit (read at the start of every session) that they must not ask about specific people, dates and places should get a huge pay rise from the SG. I don’t know how they got that through but I must concede that it was a stroke of genius.
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Not asking about specifics links in to the anonymity order. One helps justify the other and also the redacting.
If anyone thinks this lot have been preparing for independence they are mad. “Cover ups are us” should be their business slogan.
Hah, yes I keep forgetting to committee remit for keeping everything vague! It is a remarkably clever remit for preventing useful evidence being presented – and Fabiani does like to stick to it: ‘can we keep this more general please’. Frustrating. And with number of vague waffling questions – frustrating.
At one point Nicola Sturgeon says – during one of the pointless interrogations where she denies her ‘official’, who she did ask if she’d revealed the name of the complainer (hearsay!), passed on that info – she keeps saying ‘due to legal constraints’ (she used a different phrase didn’t she?) she can’t say more, then says to the committee they can interview her official in private,,, well, if that official wasn’t MsA or MsB (as we and everyone and their dog knows, she wasn’t) – then there was no reason not to say who it was, and to have her interviewed in public! I wish the committee would stop accepting those fudges. Hm, a bit late now.
You’ll know better than me about gathering evidence, but I’m feeling a bit cautious about the transcripts being accurate: if the subtitles are created from the transcripts, then it doesn’t always quite match what is said. I’ve watched some of the older evidence sessions again, and get distracted by reading the subtitles, and have found that, though not necessarily wrong per se, they do not exactly match what’s being said. Might be worth watching relevant clips to check, if something said appears crucial?
I can recommend the entertaining, late in the day, near-fisticuffs dust up between Fabiani and Margaret Mitchell. I know that’s not fair on them – it was a long frustrating day, and tempers frayed a bit – but it was a light moment of relief for us viewers. I’ll try and get a clip for you!
I admit I’m talking about reading the transcript more than actually doing it,,, soon though, soon.
Okay, so she doesn’t explicitly say it was her that decided to exclude herself. We have
Answer to Maureen Watt
“The permanent secretary kept me updated on how the development of the procedure progressed. I think that I was sent the first draft of that toward the end of November. That was at the point at which the role of First Minister as, in effect, a gatekeeper with the permanent secretary to complaints was removed.”
Her answer there was so full of ums and ahs, it’s no wonder the transcript sounds a bit garbled – so I’ve included the clip – she appeared to abruptly halt what she was saying. Also, before that was:
Answer to convener – summary of development
“The procedure then went through an iterative process of drafting, redrafting and changes. I would summarise three key policy changes that took place over that period, from early November 2017 to my signing off the policy on 20 December. First, current ministers came to be added in, the view being—as I understand it—that it made sense to have all ministers dealt with under the same procedure.
Secondly, at a later stage, which I think was around mid to late November, my role, a First Minister’s role—effectively a gateway part of the process of deciding, with the permanent secretary, whether an investigation should be triggered—was removed so that it was something that the permanent secretary could decide on her own, and a First Minister would not have any role in that decision. Given that it was a procedure about politicians or former politicians, I thought that that was appropriate. Finally, the change that was made towards the end of the development of the procedure, closer to my signing it off, was that, in the case of former ministers, a First Minister should not be told about the investigation or the outcome until the end of that process.”
She doesn’t say, of course, that she decided to have herself removed explicitly, but does say she was kept updated with the development, and that she approved of the 3 main changes, 2 of which involved removing her from decision making. So it was implicit in her statements. She says explicitly that she signed of the policy on the 20th of Dec, several times, belabouring the point perhaps. Her ‘reasoning’ behind not having any role in decision making for former ministers complaints is quite bizarre – she said, because it was about politicians ,,, um, and isn’t that what current ministers are? But the mighty Sturgeon thinks it was appropriate, so it must be so.
I think, perhaps, her whole testimony was an evidence-free zone, and, maybe, not worth the agony of listening or reading her arrogant, condescending announcements. The bits of the video I reviewed there did not improve my impressions of her with a second watch.
Margaret Mitchell, of all people, brought up ‘why wasn’t police advice taken on board?’ (Obviously, her actual question was somewhat longer) – and this did seem to make NS rather uncomfortable, where on the third or fourth iteration of the question, after having Fabiani interrupt because she didn’t understand (I would advise her to read some of the evidence, it would help), NS resorted to outright deflection and answered something else entirely. The final point was, why did the investigation go ahead when the police said the gov’t officials weren’t trained to and complainers should be directed to advocacy and support services. I understood the points clearly enough – why didn’t Fabiani and Sturgeon? (Not always an easy task with Mitchell’s questions, but in this case, points were made clearly). Again, I’ve still to check the transcript on that one – but I think that’ll be my final interest in the FMs oral evidence.
No one mentioned that there was a general civil service policy for complaints against former ministers issued on the 17th Nov and in December, that I’ve found so far.
I note that the FM did say that she “ensured” there was Trade Union involvement in the procedure development. Ensured. And she’s going to supply the committee with the ‘draft letter’ that was to be sent to former ministers.
I don’t think there is anything in the evidence session that would change any part of your Coup, Gordon – although I don’t know exactly what the themes are for part 3 and 4, I don’t think NS shed any particular light on the policy development. The hesitancy in the middle of NS’s answer in the clip above is interesting though – she has to think hard about her sequence of events ‘end of November’ (pause) quickly talks about 22nd Nov, then abruptly says she signed it off on 20th Dec. I assume the emphasis on the 20th Dec date is to say her involvement in anything to do with it ended on that date, so she believes.
Why did no one ask – why not sign this off at the same time as the other policies – whether or not it was ‘changed’ afterwards is another matter – why sign it off individually, so early, and not alongside other policies? We’re the other policies not of the same importance?
They – all committee members and Nicola Sturgeon – were really tying themselves in knots trying to remember the granular distinctions of:
It was a bits hilarious at times the number of corrections each made to their own statements. The transcript doesn’t reflect the number of self-corrections on these I think.
Yes, Margaret Mitchell is the poster child for why we need professionals asking the questions in a proper inquiry. Even when she has a good and valid question to ask as she did here, she makes such an unholy, long-winded mess of it that you actually sympathise with the witness trying to make sense of it and answer it. Even Fraser and Cole-Hamilton seemed to learn a wee bit from Jackie Baillie’s effectiveness and change their style slightly but poor Mitchell just never did.
James Forsyth has just said that TODAY more legal advice should be released. Does anyone know anything about it?
I’m still mystified about why Sturgeon still insists that the first she knew about the allegations of sexual harassment against Alex was at the meeting in her home on April 2, when it is quite clear that her meeting with Geoff Aberdein on 29th March was specifically scheduled to discuss those allegations which had been raised with GA by NS’s Chief of Staff some days earlier. So clearly the CoS knew of the allegations by mid-late March yet we are asked to believe that not only did she not only hide such explosive news from NS but also hid the reasons for the 29/3 and 2/4 meetings from her boss also. And Nicola apparently is so uninterested that she failed to ask her CoS what the purpose of the meetings were beforehand. Obviously Sturgeon DID know about the complaints at least 2 weeks before she says she did. Why continue with such an absurdly implausible claim unless there is something about those 2 weeks that she needs to hide. Anybody know what it might be?
I think the story line distinguishes between knowing in detail about complaints and knowing that there had been compaints about something.
If there is something to hide here, it could be knowledge of what was going on at a date far earier than 29 March. Being in posession of knowledge earlier could have made the 29 March meeting slip from mind as being just a step in a process rather than the start
I cant answer your exact Q but I do know that territoriality and dominance behaviour is a key attribute in this saga. AS lost at the ballot box and was meant to go to pasture, fade away and not disturb the key power players now in charge of the SG, Swinney and Sturgeon. Most SNP politicians and Yes supporters look up to them as rock star cult leaders. Neither had the competence to get there by their own merits. Alex walked away honourable and elevated NS to his post. She never had his bite. She feared him and was deeply insecure of his power among the Yes camp. When they got whiff of his RT show panic set in. He knew inside personal things about them both, their strengths and weaknesses. NS would have initiated everything that went on thereafter to destroy his character and protect their unholy throne of power. Example, when my local MSP found out I was sharing a platform at Hope over Fear with Tommy, he called concerned I was getting a national profile and demanded I step down and I was told NOT TO SPEAK. This was prior to the 2015 election when he wanted a close friend to stand for the MP position and clearly seen me as a threat although I had no wish to enter that corrupt den of iniquity. Even the Airdrie MSP – an opponent of NS and strong ally of AS – had to bully other candidates out of the way to get his nephew in as the MP! Even he didnt want a rival with a higher paid job. It has to be someone they can control that does not threaten them. AS with a major tv network news/chat show was an AS with power they envied. He was suddenly back on the UK stage with power to influence and talk about them and the SG etc. NS’s weakness and insecurity is behind all of this and she knows it and so too does AS. Cult of the party, cult of the leader must be maintained and anyone who threatens this status quo is to be eliminated. What better way that make up, exaggerate and distort allegations as a smoke screen he would never emerge through: it was only after desperate failure at being outsmarted by the Judicial Review and put on the back foot they resorted to inducements amongst some scrupulous ambitious SNP staff et all to fit him up and get him jailed for offences he did not commit. The unbridled treachery of NS is staggering and the blindness of the cult of those who equate her as a symbol of Scotland and Independence is even more breath-taking.
Those great Freedom fighter SNP candidates (bandwagon careerist mediocrities mostly) planning to win Scotland’s Independence from Westminster should look around at the reality of our Open Air Prison with Guantanamo Bay masks and the power of Globalist Corporate power! I guess the Left in Scotland have forgotten about the global power of Capitalism – when 8 multi billionaires own half the wealth on the planet – to take down democracy and think the tier system is genuinely there to protect us all from a virus! Down the memory gap goes the FACT that of all the deaths registered with ONLY covid 19 as the main and primary cause of death – facts from recent FOIs tell us only 596 were listed on death certificates as Covid only. We must all stay in our houses and quiver in psychological fear and vote by post for the one party saving us all from the virus. With an actual mortality rate of 0.01% and rampant virtue signalling and lots more, those dreaming of Scottish Independence under the current SG are living in cognitive dissonance and fantasy. I say that having campaigned for Indy for decades. But at least with Gordon’s blog and the irreverent Stu, the Scottish Enlightenment flame is not extinguished yet.
A key question would be if Salmond wasn’t the first to tell Sturgeon on 2/4 or her senior civil servant as they referred to Sturgeons Chief of Staff who, how and when did Sturgeon/Lloyd find out. If Lloyd told Aberdein who told Lloyd and when? Also why would Lloyd be told. They are not supposed to know anything about these complaints never mind the name of one of the complainers. This opens up a can of worms. None of the Commiittee were willing to go there.
Approx. 7 hours of questioning, and I don’t think the committee tied her down on any one point – NS must be very pleased with the outcome – why anyone reported this as giving clarity I have no idea. It was a masterclass in obfuscation – and as Gordon pointed out above, anyone that thinks she’s lying is a loony conspiracy theorist.
The committee body-swerved any points whenever ‘legal constraints’ or ‘I cannot name an official’ was invoked.
NS was directly contradicting all the evidence the committee has on the Aberdein events – ‘I was not in court so I don’t know what Aberdein said’ was so transparently avoiding the point, AND not in keeping with her normal theme of rebutting other insinuations – and then she invokes her other ‘get out’ – we need to wait on the outcome of each inquiry, and it’s not for her to second guess or influence their findings, and it’s right that she is blah blah. Why she was asked to give evidence at all, when she doesn’t have to give any evidence, apparently, before the findings of inquiries – I’m having difficulty getting my head round that one.
Why did none of them ask (at least I can’t find anything) – WHY did she sign off the bespoke Procedure before any of the other policies – why didn’t she wait to sign it off at the same time as the rest, why did it merit special treatment, why on the 20th Dec 2017?
Why can’t the committee ask straight, direct questions on the truly glaringly obvious anomalies?
Well – she invited them to ask further written questions ‘for clarification’ – which won’t be given, of course, and the time to tie her down has passed – so maybe they’ll at least ask some of the pertinent ones that way.
A wasted 8 hours of everyone’s time I think.
Contrary, another important aspect of this is the media, who all of course know who the official who can’t be named is and why she is so significant, but carry on reporting Sturgeon’s tears for the poor vulnerable women as if they genuinely believe some wee office junior in the Scottish Government was abused by a big nasty man, and Sturgeon, Evans, Lloyd and others were fearlessly trying to get justice for her, even if it meant putting themselves in the firing line.
It’s really quite sickening but I think they’re all so used to playing this game that they don’t even notice any more.
True Gordon. It seems an impossible task to battle against the tide of the MSM, and now that the SNP is in bed with them, well, there will have to be some major changes or revelations before any justice will be done. Trial by media: what an absurd state of affairs. I imagine that they all think it’s a jolly good wheeze, manipulating public opinion the way it’s being done, without thought to the consequences.
I think that’s a very good point, Robert.
Sturgeon did say that the Sky News query (early Nov 2017?) re the infamous Edinburgh Airport ‘killer heels’ incident made her receptive to the possibility of more AS sexual harrassment stories emerging.
Against this,she also stated in her submission that she had discussed this incident with AS, so one would think he had given some detail as well as denying it had any sexual overtones.
Exactly Sarissa, it is deliberately used as a device to smear Salmond by Sturgeon. There can be no doubting that.
I’m still behind the curve Gordon .. the story developing at such pace !
Couple of points .. NS met with Rape Crisis Scotland and handed over significant funds to this organisation .2016/17
This organisation were also involved in consultation with COPFS ; specifically I have identified consultation regarding the distinctive feature of Scots Law , the requirement for corroboration of evidence , the Moorov doctrine . I am not suggesting a new conspiracy .. I believe NS and PM knew AS was still very popular and making a comeback ..in some shape or form .. I think they engineered the whole plan , NS pro actively sought to disengage from the process for obvious reasons .
The HR policy was developed at pace and signed off by her. I consider she knew all the complainers right at the commencement of the new procedure .. it was exclusively for AS .. and the Vietnam group messages are being overlooked . Interesting that Police Scotland investigating the leaking of these messages , I wonder who directed them ?
NS testimony was shambolic , she was completely all over the place this despite many of the committee being fairly amateurish .. Last nights statement from AS spot on ! and contradicts NS evidence under Oath .
Gordon, would you care to comment on Nicola Sturgeon’s actions from the meeting of 2 April 2018 to her finally telling the Permanent Sec on 6 June of her meeting with Salmond, and presumaby also all the messaging between the two?
Her written submission was unequivocal – “I will not intervene”; Salmond and his advisors left the meeting of 2 April thinking she might; and in her oral testimony she said “which is maybe why I let him down more gently than I intended to on that 2 April meeting”
Whatever the intention, the result was Salmond spent 9 weeks fruitlessly chasing the FM to intervene or at least discuss it with the Perm Sec.
I was struck by the coincidence of dates here – 6 June 2018 was also the very last day Salmond could have raised an objection to the Procedure under s27A of Court of Session Act 1988, as the first official notification was served on him on 7 March.
And lo and behold, the first thing observed by external legal counsel on the just-released 4 September note is the time bar!
Or am I just conditioned to see everything in a suspicious light?
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Sarissa, for Sturgeon to say she wouldn’t intervene and stuck to having no involvement yet openly also admitting to having meetings and communications over a period of months with Salmond just illustrates the unbelievable brass beck she has. She should not have been having any contact at all with Salmond once she found out that there were complaints against him.
To cover this contradiction she waffled about her old pal being in distress etc etc – gaslighting the people of Scotland.
Cubby, one of the most ludicrous things that I don’t know if anyone has specifically focused on is that, if Evans and Sturgeon and Lloyd are all to be believed, Lloyd and Sturgeon knew from at latest 2 April 2018 the full details of the complaints but kept this a secret from Evans until June 2018 and in that same period from April to June 2018, Evans fondly believed she was keeping it all a secret from them!
Who ARE these people and who thinks they are fit to run a grown-up Government?
Sarissa, a very interesting observation there – and you are forgiven for being suspicious of everything!
As Cubby says above, her brass neck – and that’s hardened into bronze I think – is remarkable; her ‘reasoning’ for her own behaviour makes no sense – it was just as contradictory as the civil servants’ – and she smirkingly thinks everyone should believe something is so just because she’s said it. (I mention smirking, because it reminds me so much of Bill Browder when he tells an obvious whopper and thinks he has got away with it – pathological liar that enjoys the power of telling untruths, and he gives a wee smirk at the end of any unchallenged lie).
Back to those dates – it does suspiciously look like like Nicola Sturgeon kept up contact (and the written evidence suggests, not only was she a willing participant, but that she initiated some of that contact), to lull him into a false sense of security, to stop him immediately reporting the gov’t handling.
If NS had been ‘open and honest’, thought of AS as a friend, and had truly recused herself for any of the process – that is her excuse for not intervening (though, under the ministerial code, she should have intervened in any potential unlawful conduct) – she would have told AS there and then – on the 2nd of April – that she was not allowed to know anything about it. There was no reason for the continued contact – and her reasoning and lack of reporting of the contact (of what was gov’t business) was so weak and full of holes NS and AS were NOT ‘besties’ as she claimed in evidence, as far as I can see.
She claims the 29th March meeting was very vague (why was this not in her official diary – did she tell us that?), and that the contact was not initiated by her office – these claims seem to be untrue, and she shouldn’t have agreed to meet AS at all in reality. If she was following,,, procedure.
She claims all decisions she made were the right ones at the time, given that she was so terribly upset, but I’m struggling to find ANY decision that was ‘right’.
As usual, I’ve rambled on – I think Sarissa’s suspicions on dates here give a plausible reason for NS’s continued (then abruptly ended) contact. Given the ramshackle and poorly thought-out nature of their fit-up, I’m surprised they even knew of this legal constraint, though.
Spot on post again Contrary.
Nicola was upset so that excuses everything according to some people – truly unbelievable the state of Scottish politics. Sturgeon plotted behind Salmonds back. How on earth anyone can trust Sturgeon to deliver independence is beyond me.
Sturgeon became FM in 2015. This plotting started in late 2017. Therefore it has been happening during the majority of her time as FM. Time she should have been working towards independence she was actually working to get Salmond. The ultimate back stabber.
All people thinking of voting for Angus Robertson should remember he is a long term friend of Peter Murrell. Robertson was fully involved in this matter.
I am astounded anyone has approved of her evidence session at all – she’s FIRST MINISTER – meant to be head of government, top dog, in charge, responsible. Yet she’s playing the poor wee lassie that was so hard done by, she TRIED her best – is that really the person we want leading our country – someone that’ll go crying home to mammy as soon as a bad man says boo to her?
I can’t even envisage why independence supporters would think her ideal – imagine her coming back from trade talks to say “sorry I got you a shit deal guys, but *sniff* they were being so mean to me and I’d just seen a poor cat get run over by a car and was so upset and then I stubbed my toe and it was so sore and I was there for 8 hours and ,,,”. The reply should be, “Sorry First Minister, we think it’s best you find a more suitable position, preferably outwith politics, that would suit your skills more closely, like basket weaving perhaps”.
It really is fantasy to think she’s even half way competent enough to bring about independence, even if she did have the desire. (If the desire was there, then she’d accept all the support and advice for it that she had available, and there are plenty of folk willing to do the heavy lifting, so perhaps it’s the desire that’s the most important missing piece).
Another interesting thought about the meeting of the 2nd April – an official was in attendance too – we could even assume a special adviser – and whether or not Nicola Sturgeon was too upset to think straight, you’d have thought she’d have got ADVISED that the ‘right thing to do’ was to report the meeting, and to have no more meetings.
Did you see her in FMQs on Thursday – still wouldn’t say that she’d ‘do the right thing’ and stand down if she was found to have breached the ministerial code – she’s discovered a strange moment to realise she shouldn’t lie to parliament. No integrity, no principles. Using her mismanagement of the pandemic – being marginally better than Boris, with the worst record globally, is hardly praise-worthy – as a cover to imply the nation NEEDS her – nope, sorry, we NEED the government structures and organisations – not HER, or her ego. I wish she’d just go.
I’ve had a look at (just one of) the new legal advice documents released yesterday. This is the Dunlop/O’Neill letter of 17 December.
It basically says the ba’s on the tiles, but there is an additional interesting point.
In para 31, I find “We are told that there are other aspects to the case which justify the running of the defence and that, accordingly, there is no prospect of the pertition being conceded…. We are, however, entirely unconvinced as the what benefit might arise from the hearing in January that might outweigh the potentially disasterous repercussions thereoff.”
So what are the “other aspects”? – hoping for the criminal case to overtake?
The whole letter makes magnificent reading.
[As an aside, it’s a beautifully written letter. The meaning is completely clear.
As another aside, I watched both the FFM and the FM answering questions for many hours, without much in the way of waffle or avoiding the answering of questions. I can’t think of anyone in UK poltics who could match those performances.]
I was wondering about the ‘other aspects’ part myself Robert,,, and wonder if you are correct there.
Em, did you say there that you thought the FM’s evidence WASN’T full of waffle and question avoidance? I must have watched a different session: I’m still trying to find even one clarifying statement or answer that matches the evidence as given.
Can you give some examples and rough indication of when they were? Just of where you thought there wasn’t waffle and obfuscation.
TBH, I watched only the first 2 hours of the FM’s interview, and was then overtaken by home schooling. I assued that it had run for 4 hours and that I had seen half – which I hadn’t. I didn’t spot any prevarication in those 2 hours.
I did watch the full FFM interview. It kept me on the edge of my seat for the full 6 hour. Whether he was telling the truth or not (and I have no doubts that it was the truth), it was masterful oratory.
I see that the Economist is running the story this week. Their take is the sophisticated one that there are two arguements: was there a plot by the SNP and the civil service against AS; and is NS being hard done by by those who link her name with such a plot.
NS talked a lot, but she didn’t say much of substance, she had the ‘party line’ running fairly smoothly for a start though, I suppose. Her casual, condescending demeanour was disturbing I thought – given the seriousness of the inquiry – but I think people believe that indicated ‘confidence’.
She constantly told the committee, and us, what and how to think, then said it was not for her to tell us – I found that incredibly insulting. She was allowed free rein to speculate hypothetically on things she should have known about, or have found out about by now – most of what she said was hearsay as though she wasn’t there and didn’t do nothing. Her casual smirking demeanour just made me think she thought the whole thing a joke, all the points of concern about the procedure that have been brought up should have been fixed by now – no events of the past two years have prevented that – but she’s still to consider all these things, despite all her soul searching these past few years. Her’s was the testimony of someone not taking responsibility, and not caring.
Her arrogant, condescending delivery was more akin to what we’d expect from Boris Johnston – and that’s not what I expect from the leader of the SNP, and not something I would ever support – if the majority of the population think that’s fine (well, hell mend them) so be it.
A sad day when the politicians that come out of this with improved reputations are Jackie Baillie, and dare I say it, Murdo Fraser – He, at least, has the appearance of taking matters seriously now. We are taking about government riding roughshod over citizen’s human rights with impunity – and it’s not okay. But that’s fine because the FM said there was nothing to see here? We are in for a dire future if people believe that.
Anyway – I’ll accept that your impression is how most others viewed her performance.
This is from Alex Salmond’s latest statement:
“Documents released from 4 September 2018
Note from External Counsel
27 we have been asked for our views on whether the respondents should seek to have the judicial review proceedings sisted pending the outcome of any police investigation and/or criminal proceedings that may follow the investigation
35 we can also see strength in the argument that the criminal investigation may make the entire petition pointless: if there is a criminal conviction then surely this case will not proceed; and if there is a trial and an acquittal then the Ministers would be faced with a very different situation than that which presently obtains”
So they knew about the potential for the criminal case overtaking the judicial review early September – the “other aspects” must be something else,,, no idea what at the moment.
Robert, I think they’ve tried to argue throughout that they would have liked certainty on the lawfulness or otherwise of the procedure itself and that even if counsel were right, and the application of the procedure was found to be procedurally unfair, if they got a ruling from the judge that the procedure itself was fine then that would be worth it.
There are all kinds of problems with that reasoning which, frankly, I can’t even be bothered to explain.
I have problems with that reasoning. From a layperson perspective, they are suggesting they wanted to test and academic question on the lawfulness of the procedure, while lives and the welfare of real people, one they’d been persecuting and two whose complaints they’d used, I can only assume, to ‘practice’ dealing with complaints (taking matters at face value), were in the balance.
Academic questions on lawfulness of the procedure – which they still ‘believe’ is the case, though on what basis they can believe that when it never did get tested, who knows – should have been set aside while the lawfulness of the application was being tested – not used to drag out an expensive court case,,,
That’s not the half of it of course, and understandable you can’t be bothered to explain Gordon (there is a limit to the amount of cognitive dissonance one can, or should have to, tolerate) and Alex Salmond is pulling their arguments apart quite adequately in any case.
I have a particular interest in why the police advice was not listened to by ‘the officials’ developing the procedure – I’m not sure why Margaret Mitchell had difficulty in stating it was Judith Mackinnon considering they took evidence from her on the subject, but maybe that would have appeared overly critical of an individual – and, as we all know, ‘officials’ only ever act on behalf of ministers.
So I was pleased to hear Margaret Mitchell raise the point – still fairly long-winded, but with a surprisingly great amount of clarity. Maybe someone that hasn’t read the police evidence or thought about how it applies to the procedure development and handling DIDN’T find it clear – if you didn’t, let me know, because both Nicola Sturgeon and Linda Fabiani appeared to have great difficulty with the questions, and why they were pertinent.
It was a very long set of questions & answers (starts Column 66 I think and is interrupted here on Column 72 ,,, that’s how they set out the pdf’s of their draft reports, if anyone wants to find it), I will probably have more to say on the earlier parts of the questions – it was a ream of pure obfuscation on the FMs part “it wisnae me” on skates.
“Margaret Mitchell: That would be very helpful in letting us know exactly who met the police and who ignored the advice. I just point out again that the police formed the view that
“the hypothetical questions were predicated upon a set of circumstances … rather than … a generic procedure”,
and it was made quite clear that, in those circumstances, the people carrying out that investigation, speaking with the complainers and ignoring their wishes, were not trained to do so and that the complainers should have been referred to advocacy services.
The First Minister: I am not sitting here arguing against what you are quoting to me there. I am simply saying that I think that there must be proper consideration, of which this committee is a part, of the advice in the abstract and the hypothetical, and whether that advice was properly applied when the hypothetical became actual complaints. If the committee wants to put in writing some particular points for clarity or further information, I will do my best to answer those.”
Eh? What? Wtf is NS even saying there?! But she does say she will answer specific points in writing ‘for clarity’. NS says she’s read the police evidence earlier, so none of this is a surprise to her, and Ms Mitchell is asking, again, about the fact gov’t officials should NOT have been investigating, and the police believed the hypotheticals were more than that.
The advice, from Police Scotland, before the procedure was signed off was that gov’t officials were not trained to deal with potential victims of sexual harassment – so why did they put the investigation stage in this procedure – then they were presented with ‘hypothetical’ questions DURING the investigation and decision making stages (of complaints against AS) for what to do – and the police began to become alarmed.
What NS appears to be suggesting above is that the ‘hypotheticals’ were asked before formal complaints were made – which was not true, and obviously so.
Her time for ‘proper consideration’ is long overdue.
Her suggestion that she can give clarity or further information,,, well, if she wasn’t informed of the police advice, and she doesn’t think, in retrospect, there was anything wrong with officials not telling her, and their way of implementing it, her leadership and ability to be a minister at all has to be questioned.
Next we have:
“Margaret Mitchell: That would be very much appreciated, because it is essential to make sure that this never happens again, and that this kind of advice is never ignored by Scottish Government officials again. I am sure that you would not want to be party to that happening in a Government that you lead.
The First Minister: You will get nobody agreeing with you more strongly than me that I never want a situation like this to happen again. I would like to think that complaints like this would not have to come forward again, because we do not make mistakes here. Equally, I do not want to have a situation where, because of this experience, **there is a reluctance on the part of Government to properly investigate complaints** (1) or a reluctance on the part of complainers to come forward. It is going to be difficult to make sure that we get that right overall (2). I remain hopeful that this committee will be part of the process (3), but I think that the voices of complainers also matter in all of this.(4)
Margaret Mitchell: You seem to have missed a crucial point. It is not for the Government to try and—[Interruption.]
The Convener: Ms Mitchell, we have spent half an hour on one question.”
Asterisks and numbered references are mine. But first – I’ve left in the Conveners interruption here – yes it’s been half an hour, and yes Ms Mitchell has difficulty tying anyone down to a straight answer, BUT the FM did indeed entirely miss the point, why did you interrupt, Convener?:
**(1) Ms Mitchell’s, and the Police’s, point was that it was NOT THE RIGHT THING TO DO for the government to carry out an investigation of this nature AT ALL. The FM replies; the gov’t needs to do a proper investigation,,, no, no, no, First Minister: you DO NOT HAVE TRAINED PERSONNEL to carry out the investigation – and have made no move to try and get training or employ anyone that does – or indeed, even understand the point.
(2) It sure is going to be difficult, when all those undertaking and are responsible for complaints procedures WONT EVEN TAKE ADVICE.
(3) Hopeful? Part of the process? Cloud cuckoo land lady – why did you invite all these inquiries when you didn’t think they’d help you ‘perfect’ your ever-so already lawful and perfect procedure? Oops, sorry, I forgot, that was just to delay everyone from finding anything out.
(4) Em,,, I think that WAS the point, that you missed entirely, First Minister. The question was asked : why did YOU ignore the complainers needs by ignoring good advice? It has just been stated clearly – it was YOU that ignored the voices of the complainers. The committee isn’t investigating the complaints: they aren’t trained, and the complaints have been fully tested in court – what part of their voices need to be ‘heard’? They’ve been HEARD by all the proper authorities by now – it’s over and done with. What is being questioned is if the gov’t properly dealt with the complaints, that is, if THE GOV’T listened to the complainers. What is it that she thinks the committee needs to know, about their voices? (She said in another answer that the committee should hear some of their testimony!).
That last was a frequently recurring theme in the FMs testimony, that the complaints matter, their voices shouldn’t be lost, blah blah – the complaints themselves are over & done with! But she still doesn’t think – after the enormous amount of criticism and evidence – that she seriously needs to reconsider the procedure itself (as she smugly states, it wasn’t tested in court – even though that was her later excuse for ploughing on ahead with the JR defence despite legal advice) or the actions of her team of unlawful investigators!
You really couldn’t make it up.
And people still believe everything this charlatan says. What a sorry state of affairs.
I’m afraid I’ve got lost myself here, Contrary — call it the Mitchell effect.
It looks like Mitchell is trying to ask why the Government got involved at all and didn’t just leave it to professional police counselling, as they should have done, whereupon we know that the women would not have proceeded — a point made numerous times on this blog.
Sturgeon on the other hand — either genuinely because she, like the rest of us just wants to give Mitchell a shake, or evasively as is her default mode — is concentrating on what the SG officials actually DID and is asking Mitchell what the police advice on THAT was. Of course the police had no advice on that other than “Don’t do it.”
Haha, okay, admittedly Ms Mitchell’s questions are,,, excruciating?
She was the only person to question NS on the sequence of when the procedure got signed off – but that was a real dogs dinner, unfortunately, so nothing much can be extracted from it.
I should have started earlier in the questioning re the police advice – and paraphrased the questions from Ms Mitchell (most of the time is taken up quoting from the written evidence) – where Ms Sturgeon states clearly she was not informed about the police advice at the time (before the procedure was signed off).
That is, the earlier Q and A was a bit clearer. (Honest)
So, we have senior civil servants creating a procedure while:
(1) ignoring ACAS guidelines
(2) ignoring wider civil service policy draft guidance
(3) ignoring police advice
(4) unknown legal advice so we don’t know if they followed it or not
(5) ignored advice on the ministerial code
(6) not informing the FM of allegations as they should have prior to new procedure completion
And we have a FM who:
(1) accepted everything her officials told her without question
(2) did not test it against the ministerial code or seek advice (no cabinet meetings?)
(3) accepted that her the FM role would be written out the procedure for former ministers but not for current ministers, ,,, without discussion.
Ah – that last, I’m still trying to get straight what the reasoning is – she says for former ministers that it’s because this is a civil service policy and its relating to politicians or former politicians. I’m not sure how that’s any different to current ministers, who the FM was still to deal with.
Why were the draft letters not published with the procedure? Why did they suddenly disappear from the development process? I’ll look back at your earlier post on the matter in case I’m asking an already answered question!
I think everyone should review all your previous posts, Gordon, it covers so many things that we,,, okay, me, but ,,, are rehashing, essentially – there was no way Ms Sturgeon didn’t know of the complaints in Nov 2017 – you asked the question in one post, does anyone still believe she didn’t? And if so, why?
The answer to that is: yes they do still believe that, and yes they are that gullible.
In your post ‘When Black means white: the zany world of the Scottish government’, you started discussing the involvement of John Somers in the discussions on the final ‘recast’ procedure – I admit I haven’t seen much regarding his involvement – but you left it hanging for a future post. Are the answers to his involvement to form part of the Coup 3 or 4? Asking for a friend, of course.
I always thought Mitchell was on point re questions she TRIED to ask but her delivery of her questions is always very poor and confusing.
Exactly that Cubby! If she had had an interpreter, we could have possibly gotten a lot more information from her questions.
A final note on the FMs knowledge of police advice:
Margaret Mitchell: “Is it your position that you knew nothing about this police advice? Scottish Government officials had been told that the staff were not trained to undertake such investigations or to engage with victims. Did those civil servants and Scottish Government officials keep that from you? … ”
The First Minister: “… I was not aware at the time of those interactions with the police and the detail and content of them; ”
So I wonder why Judith Mackinnon was talking to and asking for advice from the police, if she wasn’t using it to advise during the development of the procedure, or apply any advice during her investigation, and later support of the complainers, and witnesses. Not a breach of anything I suppose, but not in keeping with the civil servants claims of putting the complainers at the heart of the process.
The questions just prior to this by Ms Mitchell on the development of the procedure (even though this was during the session on the handling of complaints, though it does cross over), her ‘discrepancy’ fumble on timing between complaints and when the procedure was signed off questions, was where the FM relentlessly quoted the 20th Dec date – she signed it off then, so had no further involvement in anything to do with the investigation, and can claim no knowledge or responsibility for anything after that date, seemed to be her defence. As well as not understanding what exactly was being asked – which was legitimate in this case!
I’m not sure anything more can be said on the matter, all the main issues have been highlighted, anyone willing to listen has listened by now, the committee will conclude what they conclude, Nicola Sturgeon has made it clear she has no dignity or integrity and will not stand down, and is willing (or prefers) to see independence ratings plummet to retain her position. Game’s a bogey.
I’m only asking further questions about your Coup 3&4, Gordon, for academic interest, a round up of the main points if you like, but I by no means expect, or think you should publish anything further on the matter – what you have provided already is far more than any of us could expect, and it has been hugely appreciated by me (as well as having this space to continue my mad rambling speculative debates with myself!), so thank you.
An interesting general question is “what would have been a good outcome for those who raised the original complaint to HR”? By general, I’m excluding any consideration of personalitires involved – so what expectation would a future complainant have of an outcome under the procedure?
It’s a HR procedure – so it can’t have any retribution aspects. Its purpose has the be to deter future incidents. Where (as here) the employee has left the organisation, the immediate opportunity has gone, so there’s no panic. All that could be sensibly achieved would be a note on the person’s record, to be consulted if they sought re-employment and forming part of a reference if a reference was sought.
Any press release would be retribution, which is not HR’s job.
Gordon, do you have any comments on the recently released legal advice to the SG re the Judicial Review? It looks to me like the SG deliberately withheld evidence and documents from it’s own legal counsel in order to spin the JR out. IMHO completely indefensible and an abuse of the legal process.
Counsel’s legal advice to SG re the Judicial Review:
So the SG continued with the meter running for FOUR months after their own counsel told them they hadn’t any prospect of winning. This sounds like lawfare to me, deliberately drawing out litigation in order to drain the other side’s financial resources. If they had succeeded in continuing the JR until Alex was charged with the criminal offences and the JR suspended, Alex may have been unable to fund his defence at the criminal trial already having spent 500K in legal fees for the JR. IMHO that’s exactly what Sturgeon and Evans were banking on. They didn’t count on the Judge ordering a full refund of Alex’s 500K legal bill.
No wonder Leslie Evans is claiming no minutes were kept of the numerous meetings she held with legal counsel. The SG’s behaviour was a complete abuse of the legal process. If this legal advice had been demanded and published by the Inquiry in 2018 Sturgeon and Evans would have been forced to resign.
Yes, I believe that’s why Lord Pentland awarded Alex Salmond the maximum he could in compensation. Not producing minutes of meetings make it look suspicious that they might have discussed this strategy with SG legal counsel – so the degree of potential wrongdoing might be much more than everyone thought.
To be honest, I find caltonjocks’s evidence not very accurate – he gets so many little details wrong that I decided not to bother reading any of his stuff. I don’t know if all the things he gets wrong are of any consequence, but I wouldn’t use him as a source for sure.
Ms Mackinnon , in her evidence to the Committee claimed she was “ always upfront” about her contact with the two women .She also said she took legal advice from an unnamed Govt . Employment lawyer who was connected to the JR at an early stage . Have the Committee received this yet ?
Re the news today that minutes of a meeting involving the FM, the Perm Sec and SG legal counsel cannot be found: would it not be appropriate to ask all 3 concerned to make their best endeavours to create a record of the main points? This is what would happen in real life if key records were found to be missing.
Is that not what they have been doing all along?
The Scottish Government used an electronic records and document management system, clearly if the minute is lost then its been lost deliberately or never made in the first place.
Does anyone know if there is a written account of the evidence Alex Salmond gave and if so where I can find it? Not his written statement but a transcript of his verbal evidence?
Hi LB, you can find the transcript here
(I hope: the links always act weird from their website)
You can get a PDF if you click on the wee PDF icon just under the title. (Easier to read through usually)
Thanks C, no idea why I could not find that for myself, having a senior moment :-).
Not at all, I still find it near impossible to navigate their webpages – you are just lucky I still had the tab open at the right location after downloading NS’s transcript! It was an easy one 🙂
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What happened to the update Gordon posted yesterday?
Just away to ask the same question Graham.
“WHAT THE SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT KNEW AND WHEN THEY KNEW IT”
Now giving message:
“Oops! That page can’t be found.”
Checked because the article was missing when I checked just now as Gordon said the next part of A Very Scottish Coup would be published today.
Would have wagered Gordon would have ensured it was legally sound before publishing so wondering what happened too.
The page with yesterday’s post (more great analysis, Gordon) is working just now for me… maybe just a little technical glitch earlier. I haven’t re-read the whole thing – maybe I should to see if there’s a certain sentence or paragraph that’s been redacted!