According to the latest bulletin from Scottish Government mouthpiece Rape Crisis Scotland, the First Minister’s Chief of Staff Liz Lloyd intervened in the Salmond complaints process on behalf of a woman who later became “one of the complainers” against Salmond at his criminal trial.

The woman – let’s call her Ms X – has used Rape Crisis Scotland, as has now become the norm for the Salmond complainers, to give her untested – and untestable – claims the widest possible public audience while preserving her court-ordered anonymity. Whether that is a legitimate use of such anonymity remains to be tested.

Ms X’s claims

Ms X’s core claims are these:

“In January 2018 I was approached by Scottish Government HR regarding an investigation they were undertaking into a complaint about Alex Salmond’s behaviour during his time as First Minister.

“I had been named as someone who experienced such behaviour in statements obtained during the course of HR’s investigation.

“After discussion with HR, I decided I did not in any way wish to share with them my own personal experiences, however I also did not want to obstruct an investigation.

“I did not know if I was obliged to cooperate after being asked to.

“I decided to raise the matter with a trusted senior person in government, Liz Lloyd, to gain advice and an understanding of my obligations.

“I was extremely conscious of the sensitivity of the investigation and I, therefore, did not tell Liz who the complaint was from, who it was about or the nature of the complaint.

“I informed her I had been approached by HR in relation to a current investigation. I said I had been asked if I wanted to make a complaint and made it clear to her I did not want to, but I was concerned that if I didn’t I may be impeding an investigation.

“She offered to convey my concerns and what I wanted to happen to an appropriate senior civil servant, who was the most appropriate person to discuss the issue with. I agreed to this course of action. This was not ‘interfering’ but acting in line with my wishes.”

We know in addition that Lloyd’s intervention was made in late January or early February 2018 because Ms X’s claims have been made in response to the disclosure by David Davis in the UK Parliament of an email of 6 February 2018 from Judith Mackinnon in which Mackinnon refers to “Liz interference” and calls it “v bad”.

Suspending disbelief (again)

Let me say at the outset that I don’t believe the claim that Lloyd was not informed that this request from Ms X involved the Salmond complaints. It would be quite bizarre for the First Minister’s Chief of Staff to involve herself in any HR matter without insisting on being informed – and informed fully – of all of the relevant details.

A few seconds’ thought will persuade any rational person that this would have to be the case. Apart from anything else, how could the First Minister’s most senior special advisor even have the relevant conversation with one of the Scottish Government’s most senior civil servants unless both of them knew, at least broadly, what they were talking about?

Presumably, we’re being asked to believe that this was yet another of those John Le Carre conversations that seem to occur daily in the senior echelons of the Scottish Government:

“They said it would rain tomorrow, Judith.”

“You can’t trust the weatherman, Liz, not in the summer.”

“Ah great, thanks, Judith. All sorted now.”

It’s ridiculous of course, but suppose we choose to believe it. Suppose the First Minister’s Chief of Staff really did intervene, quite unknowingly, in an ongoing process being run by the Permanent Secretary under the Scottish Government’s newly adopted procedure for handling harassment complaints against former Ministers.

What follows then?

Nicola Sturgeon’s view of intervention in complaints against former Ministers

The views of Lloyd’s boss, the First Minister, on interventions in the complaints process against former Ministers are well known by now, but, for the sake of completeness, let’s refresh our memories.

This is what Sturgeon told the Scottish Parliament on 8 January 2019:

“I make it very clear that I was not involved in the procedure in any way. I did not intervene in the procedure, I did not seek to intervene and I did not try to influence the course of the investigation. Had I done so, that would have been the subject of absolutely legitimate criticism” (my emphasis).

This is what Sturgeon told the Fabiani inquiry on 3 March 2021:

“Sections 4.22 and 4.23 of the Scottish Ministerial Code seek to guard against undisclosed outside influence on decisions that ministers are involved in, and are likely to have an influence on….

“The situation was, as I saw it, the opposite of that. The terms of the procedure excluded me from any investigation into a former minister. I had no role in the process and should not even have known that an investigation was under way.

“In my judgement, the undue influence that section 4 is designed to avoid would have been more likely to arise had those who were conducting the investigation been informed that I knew about it. I did not want to take the risk that they might be influenced—even subconsciously—by any assumption of how I might want the matter to be handled: their ability to do the job independently would be best protected by my saying nothing” (my emphasis).

A significant intervention in the investigation by the First Minister’s Chief of Staff, however unknowingly, must qualify by any reasonable measure as risking an assumption of how the First Minister wanted the matter handled.

Liz Lloyd’s view of intervention in complaints against former Ministers

It is axiomatic that Liz Lloyd, as chief special advisor to the First Minister, would hold the same view on this matter as her boss, and would be just as anxious as her boss to avoid intervention in such matters for exactly the same reasons. If Sturgeon’s reasoning is sound, then of course any such intervention by her Chief of Staff must be subject to the same “absolutely legitimate criticism”.

But as it happens, we don’t even have to rely on that assumption because Liz Lloyd herself, on 24 November 2017, at a meeting with Cabinet Secretary James Hynd, began the process of advancing exactly these views.

(And at the risk of eliciting more groans from loyal readers waiting for the next instalment of A Very Scottish Coup, I can’t resist a quick preview here. According to a Scottish Government response to a recent FOI request, there was another participant in this meeting who will be of interest to readers of this blog. Sturgeon’s Principal Private Secretary John Somers was at the meeting too – you know, the one who gave sworn evidence at the inquiry that he had no involvement at all in the development of the complaints procedure for current and former Ministers.)

In his evidence to the Fabiani inquiry, Hynd said this:

“During the exchanges that I had with the chief of staff, particularly at a meeting on 24 November, she indicated that the procedure should be developed further to remove from the First Minister the role to decide how to investigate complaints….

“… In the engagements that I had with the chief of staff, she was reflecting what she felt was the First Minister’s view that the First Minister should have less and less involvement in the operation of the procedure at an operational level.”

It could hardly be more obvious, then, that Liz Lloyd was no passive receiver of the First Minister’s line on this. She was, from 24 November 2017 at latest, an active participant in getting this view of the First Minister put as quickly as possible into effect.

As longstanding readers of this blog know, this was achieved in spectacular fashion with the radically “recast” procedure sent out at nearly midnight on 5 December 2017, after a day of frenzied activity and extensive “consultation” with the Salmond complainers.

So when Lloyd was asked by Ms X to intervene in an HR complaints process that was clearly important enough to require such extreme secrecy as to its subject matter and participants, her own very recent crusade to avoid interference in such a procedure at all costs can hardly have faded already from her mind.

An urgent question

When faced with the wholly context-free request from Ms X, then, surely the first thing Lloyd should have done was satisfy herself that its subject matter was at least not one which had anything to do with former Ministers.

After all, as detailed above and exhaustively elsewhere in this blog, both she and her boss had just moved heaven and earth to make sure they had no involvement whatsoever in any such processes.

So why didn’t she?

Maybe someone at the Fabiani inquiry could ask.

Maybe urgently.

214 thoughts on “AN URGENT QUESTION

  1. Yes, Sturgeon has kind of left herself open to that it seems. Maybe more embarrassing/harmful stuff will emerge before the election too. Here’s hoping.

    It’s very sad to be considering voting for the least worst option, and very sad that candidates such as yours will toe the party line against their better instincts on such an important issue. You couldn’t imagine Dennis Canavan doing that.

    I will check every few days for part three. All the best again, and, not to brown nose you too much, your material is brilliant. And I understand you have to be very careful in the current climate, so please don’t be tempted to rush anything out because imbeciles like me are impatient.

    I’m sure you won’t.


  2. Another example of the abuse of power by the SG, Police Scotland and COPFS

    One law for Sturgeon and her cronies, another for everyone else.

    Absolutely right. Senior Scientists and public health advisors are a kind of secular unaccountable clergy and aristocracy rolled into one. The use of blocking injunctions to cover his behaviour deployed by Woolhouse is probably coming from the taxpayer like so much legal assistance for the powerful. I suspect of Calderwood had managed to get lawyered up Sturgeon would have protected her through COPFS.


  3. Glad to hear 3&4 are still on the cards, I was worried they might be stalled due to the upcoming court case.

    I think Alex has played a blinder.

    I know things have gone a little crazy with hope and in many cases delight, but realistically we all know that there are tough times ahead. However, at least now there is a significant change and options.

    I like to think that the very thing NS was trying to avoid, being held to account by Alex Salmond, has actually happened.

    And who knows what Leslie Evans will say, will she take the rap? She won’t can get away with the woffle she gave to the inquiry. When I said this to my husband he said ‘well there is £600 000 missing, maybe that will keep her quiet’, lol and here was me thinking he never listens to what I am telling him.


      1. Cubby, will it be the case that people who did not give evidence to the inquiry, like Liz Lloyd and Geoff Aberdein will have to give evidence to the court?


    1. She won’t take the rap on her own. Sturgeon told the hearing she’d signed off on every part of the process. She said it was a “mistake” because it was “new”. Not true. The only new aspect was the policy to allow complaints to be brought against Ministers. The existing official Civil Service Investigation Procedures were, however, already in existence. Evans and her HR people knew this, yet a conscious decision was made to depart from official procedures. That’s a very serious matter.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree, the SG HR has taken the fairness at work policy and twisted it, and applied processes to the FaW which were deemed unlawful. Those processes have been used against many civil servants before Alex Salmond. The FaW policy in its self seems…well, fair. However, how it is applied by the SG HR is corrupt, unfair, and biased against the person complained about. And don’t get me started on the SG HR Yellow Card process :-).

        Liked by 2 people

  4. Will be very interesing who the QC’s will be for both sides in the new case. Will Roddy Dunlop excuse himself from the Evans/SG.


  5. Lots of tales today which aren’t a great look for the Alba Party. Candidates really must be careful because the media will dig deep for dirt.


    1. It will be a learning curve for those who are entering politics for the first time. I think though that many of us are fed up with the holier than thou faux moral outrage that is prevalent in our politics.

      I’m pleased to see some real people with life experiences outside of the middle class political bubble emerge for Alba. Some robustness is welcome but on the correct side of civil.

      Looking forward to the next coup instalment from Gordon.


      1. It’ll be along anytime soon I’m sure, between now and December 🙂

        Joking! He’ll HAVE to get them published before the election. Oh aye – and Gordon, mind you promised an article on Tommy Sheridan’s case? That would be good to have soon too. (No pressure,,,)

        I agree with you about having candidates with real life experience, Stephen – but it’s going to be tough learning curve on how to field the criticism from all the mud raking for them.

        I noticed an exSNP MSP has joined now too – looking at his bio, he’s been in a holding pattern in various charity jobs – this seems to be the norm for polititians now, it’s part of their career path (charity work) – and I don’t think it’s healthy – for either politicians or the charities (Iain Lawson hosted a couple of good articles on the issues,,, events have overtaken us so I’ve still only half-read the last one!). Something to look at for reform.


      2. Couldn’t agree more Stephen. Opinion free innocuous career suits and handbags won’t say anything and won’t cause offence except to those who can see the nuance . Alex Arthur opened up a debate. I dislike how he took the issue up but there is an issue. Pretending there isn’t is to step inside the SNP , Puce Party and unionist contempt for working class people and non- conforming opinions. I am more worried about people on the make who are always attracted to new political movements.


  6. This has just been posted as a couple of BTL comments on Craig Murray’s latest blog post.

    ‘Important (never mind that it’s only the Daily Express): “Nicola Sturgeon: The murky end to the SNP chief’s legal career”

    Is this the first snowball of the avalanche?

    “EXCLUSIVE – NICOLA Sturgeon’s legal career ended under a cloud as she was investigated for professional misconduct, it can be disclosed today.

    The SNP leader was eventually cleared by the Scottish Law Society more than 14 months after a complaint was made by a victim of domestic abuse.
    The complaint against Ms Sturgeon was brought by a battered wife who turned to the newly-qualified solicitor for help after years of abuse at the hands of her husband.
    Ms Sturgeon was working at Stirling law firm Bell & Craig when the client – now a grandmother in her 60s – first sought her help in July 1996.
    Over the next 14 months, despite the woman being followed, threatened and physically attacked, it was claimed Ms Sturgeon did not seek a court order against her violent partner.
    The client also alleged that Ms Sturgeon failed to send off her legal aid application – despite claiming that she had done so.
    After Ms Sturgeon left the firm for a new job in Glasgow, the unsent application was discovered in the client’s file by her new solicitor, Cath Dowdalls, now a QC.

    In stark contrast to Ms Sturgeon’s inaction, Ms Dowdalls immediately secured both legal aid and an interdict with power of arrest against the husband – ending his stalking and threats.
    The client wrote to the Law Society in November 1997, saying: ‘I sincerely hope that you look into this case as I certainly would not wish Ms Sturgeon to ill advise further matrimonial cases which she is clearly not capable of dealing with.’

    ‘I feel as if I have been trailed through over a year of ill advice and wasted time.’

    The following month, the client’s outstanding fees totalling £542 were waived by Bell & Craig as a ‘goodwill gesture’.

    A year later, in December 1998, the Law Society sent the client a five-page report which stated that her complaint would be investigated in the professional misconduct category. The three individual allegations were failing to raise the interim interdict against the ex-husband, misleading the client about the legal aid application and failing to properly take her financial circumstances into account.

    Ms Sturgeon was eventually cleared by the Law Society in April 1999, although the client no longer has the decision letter.

    A Law Society spokeswoman said: ‘There was a complaint which was investigated but it was not upheld.’

    The decision came just weeks before Ms Sturgeon gave up law and was elected as a list MSP in Glasgow for the SNP in the first Holyrood election.

    Last night, the client said her decision to finally speak out after more than 20 years had been triggered by her outrage over the Salmond affair.“

    This is how Nicola Sturgeon treats women who are REAL victims of abuse.

    ‘I’d like to know what the Scottish Law Society’s reasons were for not upholding the complaint, when we have it stated very clearly in this article that Sturgeon did NOT send off her client’s legal aid application and that the unsent application was discovered by her client’s subsequent solicitor who then secured legal aid right away. It sounds as though some deceitful wriggling was done, because if Sturgeon told her client she would send it off and then she didn’t she should have been found guilty of misconduct. But it seems that two of the three points of the complaint were “misleading the client about the legal aid application” and “failing to properly take her financial circumstances into account”. Makes you wonder whether someone may have slightly altered the complaint so that Sturgeon could be cleared.

    More digging should be done… Who at the SLS considered the complaint? Etc.

    Who was the abusing husband or ex-husband in this case, I wonder… What connections? Or maybe Sturgeon has some kind of gut hatred for all women she can’t connive with or use?

    More info is here.
    The person who considered the complaint against Nicola Sturgeon for the Scottish Law Society was Olga Pasportnikov, who now sits on the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service Board alongside Leeona Dorrian.

    In 2019 Pasportnikov, acting as a sheriff, handed convicted paedophile Matthew McCourt a non-custodial sentence for possessing indecent images of children. McCourt had previously been jailed for 34 months for committing offences against two children, including a primary school pupil. The ages of the children in the indecent images ranged from one to 15. Pasportnikov said that sending him to jail had had “no effect”. Clearly she wasn’t thinking about the obvious fact that he was not (one hopes) able to abuse children when he was in jail, nor (one also hopes) able to access indecent images of children during that time either. Does she not understand what prison is for?’

    Is this something you’re familiar with.

    I just hope it doesn’t steal your thunder with regards to Parts 3 and 4 still to come.

    As ‘Contrary’ has said.

    “Time to get in more popcorn”


    1. I.M., I’ve seen some of that story doing the rounds, but I didn’t think it a ‘shocking’ revelation, and it’s so historic it would be of the biggest use to the unionist rags if they wanted to besmirch her ‘good’ character. Interesting they’ve now done so. Nicola sturgeon to any reasonable observer is very clearly not interested in real victims of abuse – those traumatised people would be too much bother for her because they need actual real help and couldn’t be manipulated for political posturing. She is such a huge liability to the independence movement – the breadth of things that could destroy her ‘saintly’ persona are there waiting to be revealed, and those that support her without question are doing themselves, and us, no favours.

      More interesting, I thought, was part of the joke you posted that I was just about to plagiarise – I got the feeling you’ve plagiarised it yourself? (it is not relevant to any of the subjects here, but I’ll post in case it gives someone an ironic chuckle)

      “The World Economy Explained With The Aid Of Two Cows

      SOCIALISM You have 2 cows. You give one to your neighbour

      COMMUNISM You have 2 cows The State takes both and gives you some milk.

      FASCISM You have 2 cows. The State takes both and sells you some milk.

      BUREAUCRATISM You have 2 cows. The State takes both, shoots one, milks the other and then throws the milk away.

      TRADITIONAL CAPITALISM You have two cows. You sell one and buy a bull. Your herd multiplies, and the economy grows. You sell them and retire on the income.

      VENTURE CAPITALISM You have two cows. You sell three of them to your publicly listed company, using letters of credit opened by your brother-in-law at the bank, then execute a debt/equity swap with an associated general offer so that you get all four cows back, with a tax exemption for five cows. The milk rights of the six cows are transferred via an intermediary to a Cayman Island Company secretly owned by the majority shareholder who sells the rights to all seven cows back to your listed company. The annual report says the company owns eight cows, with an option on one more.”


  7. Contrary, IM and recent commenters who haven’t had replies, my sincere apologies for my woeful lack of activity on the blog of late. I’m really grateful to you for continuing to post content that is of interest to others and I’m genuinely humbled that so many people (thousands of you, actually) continue to check out the blog every day to view comments and in the vain hope that I might have moved my arse to post something myself.

    As regular visitors know, I don’t need any excuse to do nothing for days and weeks at a time but as it happens my firm has been instructed by Alba on various legal matters and although that is entirely separate from my posts and comments on here in a personal capacity, I also don’t want to give any obvious hostages to fortune.

    Rest assured, I still have a lot of stuff that I want to say about the Salmond complaints and all that follows from them, and I still intend to say it — in addition to all of the OTHER stuff such as Tommy’s case that Contrary mentions, the continuing scourge of identity politics, the ferocious attack by fake “progressives” on free speech, and the wide range of political, legal and cultural matters (including plugging my novel) that were actually my reason for starting the blog in the first place.

    Please do keep commenting, and I’ll try to do a better job of answering from now on.


    1. Gordon, I hope no one led you astray into thinking owning a blog would be a pleasant part-time hobby, easily fitted around your day job? No! The slavvering masses need FED. Not to worry though, the slavvering masses are getting used to your style 🙂

      Having too many huge long lists of things to do can actually be a big stumbling block for getting any of them done, as the list eventually becomes overwhelming. I have had many a discussion on how to manage to-do lists with a friend, as we both have trouble completing them, so it is a feeling of constant failings (we are talking excessive lists and sub lists here). We’ve both stopped creating lists for now, which also resolves the problem (I think you are *meant* to make the lists limited, manageable and realistic, but where is the ambition in that?!).

      Yes, there is still a ton to say on the Salmond complaints – a rounding up of where the evidence leads to,,, and I’m intrigued by your reference to ‘all that follows from them’ – yes, we want to know! The scourge of identity politics is another wide-ranging massive subject in itself ,,, along with the faux morality expressed by so many. Then the bland offerings we are getting from the main political parties for the current election campaigning, none of which are designed to resolve any of our social ills, are making me grind my teeth in frustration.

      With the immediate urgency of the investigation into the Scottish government on pause, for now, it’s difficult to know where to focus at the moment – and this is where your learned knowledge comes in to guide us with your insight:

      1. What do you think Leslie Evans will the charged with? It’s not a criminal trial, but it was said ‘based on the committee report’ she’d be taken to court – the report (I’ve only read the highlights still) was extremely damning (rightly so!) of her behaviour – so, will it be failing in her duty of care, failing in her duty of candour – investigating wasting public funding – will it be directly accusing her of unfair treatment towards Alex Salmond? Surely they won’t need to rehash the unlawful process now that Laura Dunlop has reduced it to mince? (Can I assume it’s STILL in place, despite all this?). … That looks likes lots of questions, but it’s just one: where is the prosecution of Leslie Evans likely to take us?

      2. What is the point in bringing up the age old argument about having 3 verdicts during an election campaign? Are voters interested? I suspect NOT IN THE SLIGHTEST. Brexit? What was that? Can’t remember any more, because the politicians are too busy pretending it never even happened? As far as I can tell, the legal bods are evenly split over what verdicts they’d like,,, why can’t we just go back to the old proven/not proven verdicts and have done with it? Do you have an opinion on this Gordon? It’s the most weirdo thing to bring up in an election campaign (or for the BBC to take an interest in) considering all the main parties are in agreement. My estimation of Alba will go up a notch if they come out in favour of proven/not proven.

      3. Are we allowed to bring up our suspicions of Lady Dorrian possibly being delighted at having had a high-profile sexual assault trial to perhaps bolster support for her pet project of doing away with juries and cross-examination in such trials? Or is it too early (though she obviously didn’t think it too early to start her trial of the trials). Possibly related to no.2 above. Are these really the best solutions to the problems. Meanwhile the prison service seems to happily be putting known rapists that identify as women into women’s prisons,,,

      4. What are the odds of Police Scotland properly investigating the SNPs missing ring fenced monies? Should we expect another bonkers announcement by Nicola Sturgeon that she’s been exonerated even though a police report condemns her but passes the buck to the Crown Office for deciding to prosecute? (Yes, yes, but I wanted an analogy with the inquiries).

      The contradictions between what politicians and officials SAY and what they DO, has become too much to bear. I’d be most obliged if you could put the world in order for us too Gordon, I crave simplicity, and transparency.

      Another question: 5. Does Scotland have such a thing as a superinjunction, and can one just pay for such a thing?


      1. Contrary, there’s a whole essay that could be written on all of these, but briefly:

        1. As I’ve replied to a commenter somewhere above, the English tort of “misfeasance in a public office” gives the most likely basis and the Scottish courts have explicitly endorsed it as applicable to Scotland if the circumstances warrant it. Damages will be an interesting aspect. Evans will argue that her unlawful actions were quickly overtaken by the criminal charges which would have done all the damage they did to Salmond’s reputation anyway but the obvious counter to that is all of the further expense and damage done to Salmond by the Fabiani inquiry, all of which is directly attributable to Evans’s unlawfulness.

        2. The very obvious subtext of Sturgeon’s comments on “not proven” is the verdict on the Woman F “sleepy cuddle” charge in the Salmond trial so it should go without saying to readers of this blog that I regard her comments as beneath contempt. On the actual issue, the “not proven” verdict is a historical anomaly and is identical in every way to “not guilty”. Judges are specifically instructed to say NOTHING to juries about what it is or how it might differ from “not guilty” because any time anyone tries it, there’s a successful appeal as a result. Defence lawyers, including me, are all in favour of it on the simple, practical basis that you sometimes get an acquittal that you might not otherwise have got because of it, and the odds are so stacked against an accused person that you take anything you can get as some redress for all the unfairness and lack of principle on the side of the prosecution. There’s no principled case to be made for it on its own terms though.

        3. Don’t get me started. Maybe we should do away with the presumption of innocence and trials altogether and just make it the law that anyone accusing anyone of anything is to be believed without question. It seems this especially applies if it’s a crime that it’s trendy to disapprove of — unlike say, murder which, if I understand the argument, is much less serious than pinging someone’s hair. I honestly despair.

        4. The police suck at investigating fraud and COPFS suck at prosecuting it at the best of times because it’s an area that actually takes brains and ability. Add in the factors you mention, and I’m inclined to be pessimistic. If we could just give the case to the QCs who acted for the Rangers guys and who know all there is to know about what fraud is — and isn’t — then it would be a slam dunk in my view.

        5. Not as far as I know but I’ve heard the rumours too, so maybe someone has come up with something new for Scotland, based on the English experience. I’ll be as interested as anyone else to learn what it is if they have.


  8. Contrary.

    Memo to self

    When you have dug yourself into a hole. Time to stop digging.

    It’s so easy to forget that when you read and comment on several ‘Blog Posts’ you will find others of like mind who do the same, resulting in correlation.

    To clarify things.

    Back in 2014 I thought I would try and write a series of what I thought were satirical blogs to do with the fight for Scottish Independence. You can find the results here.

    and here

    Without going into any more detail, the first blog post above apparently offended the same cult members who carried out their vendettas against Alex Salmond and Joanna Cherry

    So you can draw your own conclusions re plagiarism but feel free to repost.


    1. Good stuff IM. I was being somewhat tongue in cheek re plagiarism, I’m not sure jokes can be plagiarised – satire though: probably! Plagiarising yourself, but the original post not plagiarised – interesting conundrum, haha. What I want to do is take the first section and add ‘rentier capitalism’ to the list – this is what we have in the UK just now, and I think a two cow analogy would be a good way to get the basics across. (I’ve tried appealing for some creativity from others on Richard Murphy’s blog, but nothing so far).

      The abused wife analogy is a very good one, and most interesting is ‘learned helplessness’. The SNP have turned this into an art form now, surpassing anything the unionists could have achieved, egging on the perpetual victim hood in her supporters. I just can’t have any respect for people that do this, it’s just a way of taking no responsibility for their own behaviour. The irony of them accusing Salmond of being just like them (taking no responsibility), but no victim in their eyes, is not lost on me.

      It’s a sad thing that we’ve had no closure on so many events perpetrated by the Scottish government, and the SNP, before the election. How can we have democracy when the populace are kept in the dark, and have no chance to make an informed decision? Even with the injection of the Alba Party to bring about some enthusiasm from the pro-Indy side, I can still see a relatvely low turn out for voting – too many unresolved scandals, and the MSM and mainstream parties (realising MSPs wasn’t not going to work as an abbreviation there!) springing back into their comfort-zone business-as-usual mince.

      If the Alba Party manage to come out with some realistic, tangible, plans for ecomomic recovery (as they’ve been suggesting) – and they get some air time – they might get a lot more people going out to vote for them than just the demographic they’re aiming for. The notional, vague plans we have so far, to build lots of houses or create lots of jobs,,, isn’t really going to inspire anyone (there is a notional shortage of IT specialists already in Scotland – what’s the point in creating jobs no one wants or can do?! What’s the point in building ‘affordable’ homes that no one can afford in places no one wants to live?) (I’m not saying this would happen, but if you don’t say the specifics, it’s just meaningless twaddle).


      1. George Kerevan had a piece in the National setting out plans for a massive increase in social housing for rent as a post pandemic measure. He and Craig Berry from the SNP common weal group have joined Alba so hopefully some of their more radical policies might get adopted which would appeal to the socialist base of Scottish society forgotten by the neo liberal SNP political careerists.

        It seems like every day another sleazy corruption story emerges about the conduct of the SNP. The strange thing is that like the Tories in Westminster the corruption doesn’t dent their polling ratings. It seems that being found not guilty by a jury of your peers is more damning in the eyes of the populace than naked corruption. Alex Salmond appeals to fair minded Scots to accept the outcomes of trials and committees. One gets the impression that fair minded people are thin on the ground.


      2. Stephen, I think George and Craig are two brilliant recruits for Alba and for all of us who believe in ACTUAL progressive policies, based on tackling the obscene inequality of wealth in our wee country. On Salmond, I’m starting to get cautiously optimistic about the increasing numbers of those fair-minded people you mention…


  9. I’ve just watched the excellent BBC (wash my mouth out with soap and water) film ‘The Mauritanian’ based on the true story of a man held at Guantanamo Bay without trial for years, enduring horrific torture and abuse at the hands of the US military. It’s available on Amazon Prime (damn wash my mouth out etc etc again) for those interested.

    The reason I mention it is due to the scene in which the defence lawyer forces the Government to reveal the evidence against her client and after months and months of facing ‘stonewalling tactics’ the Government finally hands over the evidence. The defence team eagerly dive into the boxes and boxes of evidence only to find over 90% redacted.

    Now at least I know where Scot Gov got the precedent from.


    1. Nice one, IM. Maybe we could get rape convictions up to “proper” levels by remanding anyone accused of it to Guantanamo Bay so they can reflect on their actions and confess. I mean, we all know it’s impossible that the accused in rape cases could be getting acquitted because a jury of ordinary men and women listened carefully to all the evidence and weren’t persuaded, beyond reasonable doubt, of guilt.


  10. I’d always been told that the difference between “not guilty” and “not proven” was that if you were found not proven you could later be re-tried for the same offence if further evidence came to light ie the “double jeopardy” provision did not apply. Is that incorrect or was the ability to retry the case abolished at some point?

    In doing some googling about the “not proven” verdict I came across this article:
    Basically they ran some mock trials where the jury could choose guilty or not guilty verdicts and then reran them giving the jury the additional “not proven” verdict. As a moment’s thought by any rational person would indicate, the mock juries found the exact same number of “guilty” verdicts under either system. So Sturgeon is talking bull’s excrement when she claims that abolishing the not proven option would result in more rape convictions. Just another attempt to smear Salmond by implying that he was guilty but he “got away with it”. What a despicable character she is.

    Regarding the difficulty of convicting fraudsters: the inability of judges and juries to comprehend anything more complicated than a clerk embezzling the petty cash is a major stumbling block. There’s a good case for establishing specialist courts for major fraud cases with juries drawn from a panel of people with relevant qualifications and experience such as accountants and lawyers.


    1. Stuart, I don’t know about ancient history but the effect of “not proven” has been identical to “not guilty” for at least a couple of centuries now — see the case of Madeleine Smith in 1857. Juries are told that there must be a simple majority for guilty — usually 8 — and that anything else is an acquittal and so we assume that if, for example, the vote is 5 for guilty, 7 for not guilty and and 3 for not proven, the jury comes back with “not guilty”. No-one knows though, and some of us even suspect that it might occasionally lead to mistaken convictions where the jury forgets the simple majority instruction, votes say 6 for guilty, 5 for not guilty and 4 for not proven and convicts on the basis that the biggest vote was for guilty. As I’ve said above, there’s no principled argument for not proven whatsoever and, at the risk of being drummed out of the defence lawyers’ union, I personally wouldn’t be sorry to see it go. (In the Salmond case, which is what this is really all about, I’m completely confident that the jury would have come back with “not guilty” on the Woman F charge if “not proven” had not been available. The anomaly of “not proven” gave them an opportunity to differentiate Woman F from the parade of lies and hair pinging that made up most of the other charges and they took it. If that hadn’t been available to them, they’d still have acquitted.)

      I disagree about scrapping juries for fraud trials just as I do for rape trials or any other trials that elites tell us are too complex or sensitive or whatever for ordinary men and women to understand. My experience of juries is that they really take the job seriously, listen hard and carefully, and decide diligently in accordance with the evidence. That is NOT my universal experience of judges. As for a panel of lawyers and accountants deciding ANYTHING — aaaarrrrghhhh!!!!


      1. Haha, Lawyers and Accountants, the two most untrustworthy professions there are,,, (well, except politicians, obviously, but at least they aren’t CLEVER). No way I’d want them on any learned panel. 😉

        I believe, Gordon, that you may be biased, slightly, in your opinion on judges 😀 ,,, but I agree with you on juries – they have an incentive to be fair (ordinary folk; it could be any of them in that position next time) – and then we must question the reasons *why* some cases are supposedly too complex for the average person to understand,,,

        Are the laws themselves too complex – and, if so, how can you expect people to adhere to the law? Surely laws are about societal constraint so that we can all live in harmony together (ah! The idealism!) – and if they don’t do that, then surely it follows the laws that don’t do this are NOT REQUIRED. perhaps? But maybe it’s just that all the alleged criminals are just so much more clever than us – a bit like the elites, perhaps – and so we need to have clever – elite – judges take care of it for us? In which case, it could be the elites that are NOT REQUIRED.

        On a more serious note, though, you say there that there is no instruction given to juries regarding which verdict to choose – I thought there was a technical legal difference between not proven and not guilty? Do juries just choose which one they prefer based on if they prefer the sound of over the other?? I know the outcome is the same – surely juries are told that much?


      2. Contrary, I promise that there is no legal difference and, as I’ve said before, judges who have tried to give juries some rational explanation for why we have both verdicts have just got themselves into trouble. The judiciary in Scotland publish a comprehensive manual of the directions given to juries and the reasons and law behind those directions and anyone interested can check it out here:

        Judges give juries a standard direction about proof beyond reasonable doubt being necessary for a guilty verdict and tell them that a reasonable doubt is the kind of doubt that might cause you to pause or hesitate in the course of your own important affairs.

        This is then the SUM TOTAL of what judges are advised to tell juries about the not guilty and not proven verdicts:

        “A word about your verdict. There are three verdicts you can return, not guilty, or not proven, or guilty. Not guilty and not proven have the same effect, acquittal. It’s not necessary that your verdict is unanimous, it can be by a majority. But for any verdict of guilty there must be at least eight of you, an absolute majority of your whole number, in favour of that.”

        This is the manual’s legal commentary where judges are warned not to wade into the murky waters of explaining not proven:

        “It is dangerous to attempt to explain any difference between the not proven and not guilty verdicts. It is a misdirection to tell the jury that not proven is appropriate in circumstances where the Crown has not established guilt, whereas not guilty may be appropriate where the jury believes the accused has exculpated himself.”


      3. It does seem to me that reverting to the two verdicts of Proven and Not Proven might be an improvement on guilty/not guilty. It would clarify things for the jury, in the sense of reminding them that they need to decide on the basis of the evidence, not a gut feeling.

        Is there any downside to this?


      4. The downside for me, Robert, is that everyone in the English-speaking world knows what “not guilty” means and no-one, including me, knows what on earth “not proven” is supposed to mean.

        If the Crown prove the charge beyond reasonable doubt, then they overcome the presumption of innocence and you’re guilty. If they don’t, then you’re not guilty. It’s simple and everyone understands it. There’s not the slightest need to mess with it.


      5. Mm-hm, so juries DO just chose which one they prefer the sound of. Interesting.

        Proven and not-proven is actually what happens in the court process though isn’t it?

        If someone is charged with a crime, it’s the charge itself that’s either proven to have happened or not proven (by the person accused). So those verdicts express how the system works – the words used ‘defence’ ‘prosecution’ are all centred around the case itself; the judge in jury trials appears to judge the defence and the prosecution, taking on an administration role rather than directly judging the accused. And the juries, by chosing a proven or not proven are handing down a verdict on the prosecution or defence cases (as pertains to the accused). Life isn’t clear cut and you are unlikely to have a handy black and white definitive answer in any trial anyway.

        BUT,,, the person being accused, and everyone else, wants to come out of the process knowing they are not guilty (or guilty) – a ‘no case to answer’ verdict is really the biggest exoneration of any wrong-doing though isn’t it? – not guilty is just exactly the same as not proven, it’s not that the person has or has not done it, it’s that the case was,,, not proven.

        My rambling distinction here is that you can say “I was found not guilty” but you would have to say “the case was found not proven for me”. It’s the difference between judging the charges themselves and judging the person.

        I don’t think there is confusion over the verdicts at all, it’s just that the proven and not proven reflects the uncertainty – the real actual uncertainty there is in any court case – rather than making it sound like a definitive exoneration (or condemnation). And people don’t like that uncertainty.

        I mean, we stopped hanging people for a reason – you can never really, and there is no absolute way to, be a 100% certain of someone’s guilt or innocence (once the accusation has been made) – (I don’t support state-sanctioned murder in any shape or form btw) – and if you hang someone, you generally can’t go back and say “oops, we made a wee mistake there, the witness was colour blind and it was actually a red coat they were wearing,,, sorry about that. Um.”. You can only pass judgement on the narrow confines of what is presented to you and how it is presented, at the time – and, of course, the judge decides what is presented, or not, as well as the lawyers involved. So it HAS to be the case that’s judged, not really the person. In theory, if the case has gone to trial at all, there has to have been reasonable doubt in some form. Unless it’s a fabricated witch-hunt, obviously – and we should consider adding that as a verdict too. Do juries get a choice of saying ‘no case to answer’ too?

        I would say the verdicts ‘proven’ and ‘not proven’ are a more accurate representation of how trials are carried out, but I also fully understand what you mean Gordon about just using guilty and not guilty because that’s what people – well, you say ‘understand’ – but I would say that’s what everyone PREFERS. Let’s say, the former verdicts are the more pedantic version, the latter are the more socially acceptable version.

        I won’t argue against just using guilty/ not guilty now though! After saying laws should be comprehensible, in an ideal world – so should the verdict I guess. Adding an either/or option for not proven/not guilty just adds to the uncertainty of the whole thing.

        (I still don’t see it as a burning issue for an party political election policy though!!)

        I like the 15-person randomly selected jury and majority decision system; I think it irons out some of the biases of the defence/prosecution cases I reckon. (That is, jurors are not ‘chosen’ by either side).


  11. As I regard Facebook and Twitter as the tools of the Devil, I miss out on a lot of things.
    After saying that, I’m concerned about Robin McAlpine. Since he resigned/ forced to resign from Common Weal in January there’s been nothing since.
    I’m hoping he’s simply taking a well deserved break but TBH I thought he’d be one of the first in line to be headhunted by Alba.
    Can anybody more social media savvy enlighten me?


      1. Gordon Dangerfield
        April 7, 2021 at 9:09 am
        I was in touch with him a couple of weeks ago, IM — continuing a longstanding exchange about the epistemology and ontology of language, hah! — and he seemed in fine fettle.

        Wow that is a nice introduction to a matter that has been keeping me preoccupied for some considerable time.

        How would you define the term ‘subliminal advertising’?

        To me as a lay person it means trying to promote or sell a product by subliminal means.

        What if it could be applied to trying to promote or sell a political party or political philosophy by subliminal means?

        Can a political party ever be described as a product?

        As far as I’m aware, ‘subliminal advertising’ is still classified as illegal in the UK.


      2. I’m afraid I know nothing about it, IM. I remember watching a programme where Derren Brown claimed to be using it (to get people to buy toy giraffes, if I remember rightly) but I was never tempted to explore further. Personally, I’m much more concerned about the ability of the ruling class to get away with the most blatant and obvious lies by means of what Gramsci called hegemony than I am about subliminal stuff.


    1. I’ve started to get concerned about Joanna Cherry – she said she was taking time out for health reasons, and no wonder, the emotional strain of what she’s been through must have been massive (and we should remember that she’s not a life long politician – with the attendant thickness of skin – but fairly new to the game), and not having support from her bosses or many colleagues must be horrible. That last tweet was on 26th March, so I suppose 2 weeks (or longer) is a reasonable time for recovery – it’s just the weird public life politicians, where you expect to hear updates – and I just hope the time out is giving her enough breathing space to recover.

      The way the SNP has treated her I think it would actually do her good, purely from a mental health perspective, to leave. I don’t have any expectations of Ms Cherry (I wouldn’t have suggested leadership of the SNP for instance), but listening to Alex Salmond’s support of her (through a Scottish Prism interview I think,,, or the twa auld heids – both are good) she’d do well to shift party to Alba – if it wasn’t going to cause furore, which it will, of course, so maybe not yet. I can’t even imagine the hate-filled messages from the SNP if she did make the move – but it would still be better than staying in that environment, I reckon.

      Anyway, I’m hoping she makes a speedy recovery, for whatever it is (I’m assuming emotional strain, she could equally have been getting an op or anything else) & if anyone knows if she’s doing okay I’d be pleased to know about it.


      1. Contrary
        Joanna clearly felt she needed to rest. It is better to recognise this than, as some do, carry on and melt down publicly. I hope she gets a rest. She possibly intended to withdraw completely from politics when she announced her “time out” plan while still looking after constituency matters. I’m not sure Alba is for someone as talented as Joanna, to be honest. I think she may still be needed within the SNP. Maybe she does too.
        At the moment, in Scotland, we are in a political sewer with a media which, frankly, appears to have taken the decision to allow Sturgeon, First Minister Sturgeon, to, incredibly, walk away from having seriously misled Parliament without a scratch. That is just extraordinary. (I’m sure others brought down at Holyrood, McLetchie, McLeish for example, must be reeling that she’s got away with this. Their offences were trivial in comparison!) In the process she was able to declare she’d been “exonerated” and “vindicated”. She was not! Hamilton’s report was so heavily redacted it was impossible to decipher his actual undiluted conclusions. We didn’t actually need his conclusions when so much was already clear to any onlooker so it is remarkable that so many journalists and news publications and broadcasters have consciously chosen to look the other way. The big question is why when, usually, the SNP would never escape censure from a media which generally took the “SNP bad” route on every occasion.
        Look at Tom Gordon, at The Herald. Normally a fierce critic of Sturgeon he’s been trumpeting her sainthood for some time now. What is that about?
        I’ve said before, and I’m still convinced, that, for the media, this has been about deciding who they hate most, Sturgeon or Salmond, and then picking a side. This is despite the fact that we now know for certain that the original investigation into complaints about Salmond was absolutely corrupt. That was established beyond doubt and we had to pay £600,000 costs because of that, “unlawful, unfair and tainted with apparent bias” investigation. The media had this from a Court yet, still, Sturgeon is untouchable. “A mistake.” she said. “it was a new process.” she says. More lies. The official investigation process was already in existence. Evans and Sturgeon adopted a new one which allowed a corrupt investigation to proceed. (Note to Sturgeon and Evans: the official investigation procedures exist specifically to avoid the very situation you created by throwing procedure out of the window! It’s about avoiding those subject to bad processes from taking employers to court and winning!) We then saw the media take centre stage, thanks to David Clegg receiving a copy of the full Decision Report on Salmond which the Record went on to publish in lurid detail. This leak could only have come from inside the Scottish Government yet, what has been done about that? Nothing! What has the media had to say about that? Nothing! Yet, when a leak emerged from the Parliamentary Committee that a majority weren’t impressed with Sturgeon she goes into meltdown, trashes the Committee as partisan and consequently trashes their conclusions. What did the media do? They went along with that. Even the BBC. Even Sky…and the rest. The media picked its side and that side was Sturgeon’s. In the process she has been able to survive so many serious misjudgements unscathed that I’ve lost count. How is that possible? Right up until the last FMQs she was lying to the Parliament about that investigation. Claiming to be taking responsibility without actually taking any. Declaring her confidence in a PS who set up and ran a corrupt investigation process in order to bring down a particular individual.
        She’s still out there, smearing, the polls are still claiming she’s streaks ahead and the media are making that clear. “Overall majority. Sturgeon doesn’t need Alba seats.” That said, the polls are a bit erratic. Yesterday the Herald had two separate articles on polls. One declared Alba would get six seats, the other said they’d get none! Plus a further article from Tom Gordon declaring that there was a nasty smell coming from the Alba Party. If you ask me, the real toxic stench is coming from the Scottish media. Journalism, truly, is dead and, personally, I’m not surprised if Joanna Cherry is utterly exhausted because of that. Still, if a week is a long time in politics, who knows what might happen by polling day.



    “An obscure parliamentary body, the Scottish Parliament Corporate Body (SPCB), had earlier decided after taking legal advice, that the whole submission could be published – and it was. Crown Office “experienced lawyers” appear to have disagreed and the end result was that either Parliament, the SPCB, the committee, or Crown Office lawyers edited the submission removing matters which “concerned” the Crown Office lawyers.

    The Lord Advocate told Parliament that he was not consulted about the matter but that it was done by “experienced Crown Office lawyers”.

    Let’s just look at that for a moment. The opinion of Crown Office lawyers was enough to result in a parliamentary committee of inquiry excluding evidence from the statement of a witness due to appear before them. That’s what happened. It was regarded as serious enough for the Lord Advocate being called before Parliament to answer an emergency question as to how this had all come about. “Experienced lawyers” looks like the only explanation we, the public who pay those lawyers, are going to get.

    But what happened in front of that parliamentary committee was far from the whole picture. We also learned that the parliamentary body which took the decision was also asked to keep the terms of the request by “experienced Crown Office lawyers” confidential, and they did. So we can’t know the reasons for or the basis on which they did removed content from the submission.

    But it gets worse; The Spectator had published the entirety of that particular written submission which was already in the public domain. The Spectator was not only “requested” to remove what we assume was the same material by the same Crown Office lawyers – it was also instructed by them not to publicise the fact that they had been “requested” to remove material.”


  13. Ms Sturgeon’s economic recovery plan as set out by Benny Higgins is discussed here.

    “For the record, the Higgins Report is not really a blueprint for Scottish independence, albeit under a new native bourgeois class. The Scottish bourgeoisie balks [sic] at the necessary sacrifices and confrontations required to build a new state – they always have and always will. Hence the tentative language of the Higgins report.

    More likely Higgins and Co. are offering the SNP leadership an excuse quietly to abandon independence and seek a new devolution settlement with the Tory Government. Holyrood would get increased capital borrowing powers in return for calling off a second independence referendum. Result: the Scottish owning class can have its cake and eat it. There would be extra public investment and cheap labour without incurring the cost of building a new state or unleashing a confrontation with an anti-austerity working class.

    The true burden of this new devolution settlement would fall on working people. There would be higher taxes to pay for increased state borrowing – any profits resulting from the investments would end up in private pockets. There might be (low paid) jobs, but again funded through higher taxes. This is an economic cure worse than the disease. Now might be a good time for socialists and trade unionists in the SNP to produce a progressive, democratic and collective response to the Covid-19 economic emergency.”

    Whether George Kerevan is right or not in his supposition that Sturgeon and supporters prefer devolution over independence, I would prefer to live elsewhere than in the kind of Scotland envisaged by Higgins.


    1. Thanks Sam – that was the report published June last year, and it was rightly rubbished, and is indeed an economic recovery plan aimed at the top 5% elite – that is, it won’t recover anything and leave most of the country in dire straits. I didn’t pay that much attention to it at the time – I categorise Nicola Sturgeon and her SNP in the same one as Boris Johnstone and his Tories for economic nous and skills in running a country – so had forgotten about it. Is this what the SNP are using as their economic recovery plan still? Is this what they are proposing for the election? (The facades might be different, between Boris (he doesn’t give a monkeys and will do it anyway) and Nicola (she pretends like its the best for everyone, honest, she really does care) but they are absolutely in lockstep in economical terms. They are both populist leaders so it’s all about political rhetoric anyway, so I’m not sure either have real opinions on it.)

      So far I’ve just heard small-time, ill-considered, policies from the main political parties (as Chris McEleny said recently in his Scottish Prism interview, play parks are really the purview of councils, not Holyrood – which, to my mind, appears to be now acting as though it is a glorified council). It’s tedious and pathetic, the parties are in a holding pattern promoting small detail ‘popular’ policies, and ignoring the fact we need proper governance, and solid plans. Their political rhetoric (what they say they want) doesn’t match up with any of their policies (what they say they’ll do). That is, they won’t get any kind of social justice out of their hypothetical policies. Hypothetical, because they haven’t said how any will be achieved – on a fixed budget you don’t have the same flexibility in spending decisions as a proper government would. They fail the devolution economics test, and most certainly fail any independence economics test. They are all promising ‘more of the same’. (Great. Can’t wait.)

      I’m still waiting to hear Alba economic policies and plans – I know Alex Salmond has changed his views on economical matters, and appears to have learned some lessons from the past, but I don’t know anything about their main economics man to see how that may shape things. They are claiming there is a proper plan in the offing, and should be formulating it this weekend I think. If it does turn out to be a good one (hah, probably the only one), the elephant in the room is: how does it get implemented when Alba have no intention of forming government. Though I don’t think that’s a serious elephant if it has the political acumen of Alex Salmond in the parliament pushing for them – like him or loathe him, everyone has to admit his political skills and maturity outstrips any of the current MSPs, and they will be hard pushed to resist any convincing he wishes to do. There is a very good reason the powers-that-be don’t want him on the telly, of course.

      Well, we can only wait and see.


  14. One political analyst does not see much change in an independent Scotland.

    “Scottish independence could have a major effect on political reforms, to boost the role of the Scottish Parliament and change the Scottish Government’s policy style. Indeed, independence presents a new opportunity for reformers to argue that the Scottish political tradition has more in common with consensus democracies – often associated with Nordic states – than the ‘winner takes all’ and adversarial tradition that is such as part of Westminster politics.

    However, I don’t think that independence will have that effect. Major political reform has not been a central feature of the push for independence. Rather, the SNP and the Scottish Government emphasised the adequacy of the Scottish Parliament and the competence of the Scottish Government, suggesting that independence would be built primarily on the existing policymaking processes that have a close resemblance to Westminster politics.”


  15. Would there be any room for this in Sturgeon’s Scotland? Hardly likely.

    A few years ago I pondered on why the SNP was not campaigning specifically on the need for more devolved powers to tackle the fundamental causes of inequalities in Scotland. I wrote to Phillipa Whitford who had the health brief. She did not reply. I then wrote to my MP, not a Sturgeonite, asking the same question.I had an answer. There was no political will for it.

    I note also that Sir Harry Burns, a hero in my eyes, is on friendly terms with Alex Salmond and has no qualms about appearing on Alex’s show.


  16. Am I being overly cynical in thinking John Swinney, as a reward for being a nice and loyal disciple to Nicola during her recent ordeal, has just been handed a poisoned chalice that will lead to his resignation/sacking in a relatively short space of time.
    I’m far from being an expert but £1 billion extra seems to me about 1/10th of the budget required to fund the quoted wish list.


  17. Too much happening on election stuff just now, and I’m restricting my online-time too just (need to get more active!), and where IS Gordon with our next instalment?!

    Here is most of the text from a Scotsman article published today – asking the question about the coaching of the civil servants appearing before the harassment committee & was it illegal. We noted before the strange case of no one bothering to ask questions about it – is this the first time someone has seriously raised the question in public?

    It starts with a bit about ordinary people appearing as witnesses in a criminal trial,,,

    “Unlike experienced witnesses such as police officers, they will anticipate with some dread entering an unknown and possibly hostile arena.

    The situation will be particularly extreme for those who are “complainers” – that is to say the alleged victims of the crime.

    Can anything be done to help these folk, who after all have done nothing wrong?

    After all they are assisting the justice process by going into the witness box to give evidence about what may well have been a very traumatic incident. Scots law is clear on this.

    Nobody is permitted, not even the lawyers involved in the upcoming criminal proceedings, to prepare witnesses by rehearsing their evidence.

    An example would be going through the questions which are expected to be put in order to ascertain the most convincing answers which the witness might give.

    A mock court session might be constructed including questioning, but doing this amounts to the crime of attempting to pervert the course of justice.

    In our courts, conviction on this charge almost always results in a jail sentence. Any lawyer participating in such a process would be guilty of professional misconduct and liable to be disciplined by the relevant professional body.

    Experienced criminal lawyers will not not be unsympathetic to the fear felt by witnesses before they are called to take the oath.

    But the greater harm would undoubtedly be to allow what in effect amounts to the coaching of witnesses. That would be an attack on the very fabric of the justice system.

    It is fundamental to the integrity of our Scots system that this is prohibited.

    Although these rules are most likely to be relevant in criminal matters, they apply with equal force to civil cases.

    There is no reason to think that they don’t also apply to evidence to the Scottish Parliament, particularly when that evidence is given under oath.

    So it is shocking to see that the answer to a Freedom of Information request to the Scottish Government reveals that the civil service witnesses who were to give evidence to the Salmond inquiry committee had received over £54,000 worth of “external preparation” for their appearances.

    What was going on here?

    It would have been permissible for the in-house lawyers employed by the Scottish Government to explain to the civil servants just how the committee appearance might work. But they certainly couldn’t “prepare” these witnesses, by discussing their evidence, without committing a crime.

    There are about 140 lawyers employed by the Scottish Government. It is impossible to believe that none have any knowledge of the procedure of government committees.
    Why then was any external help needed? Why did it cost over £54,000?

    We know that the external advice came from lawyers because the Scottish Government’s FOI answer admits this.

    It advances the fact that the advice was legal advice as a basis for refusing to disclose any details about it other than the cost.

    This, of itself, is extraordinary, but the Scottish Government’s FOI answer also talks of “its work on civil servants evidence” (to the committee).

    What work? How can you “work on evidence” without breaking the law?

    When we look at the very high number of hours the individual witnesses estimate as the time expended on preparation, it becomes pretty much impossible to conclude that this legal advice was of the very limited type which is permissible.

    There is something distasteful about all this.

    Our Scottish system does not afford this facility of “preparation” to witnesses who have been the victims of serious sexual assault.

    Is a woman who has been raped not more deserving of supportive attention than civil servants who are simply explaining their work to a committee?

    That raped women will find her assistance restricted to support from the police, Rape Crisis Scotland or Victim Support Scotland.

    All theses bodies are well aware of the restrictions on their discussing the content of evidence with rape complainers. The Scottish Government it seems are not.

    Examination of the history here inexorably leads to the view that despite the criminality of so doing, the civil servant witnesses were indeed prepared by rehearsing their evidence. Only that explanation appears to fit in with the facts and the costs.

    It would be useful to know if those civil service witnesses who were recalled to the committee were advised by the mysterious “external advisers” between their appearances.

    For example, the head of the civil service was called to give evidence no fewer than four times because her answers raised questions requiring further inquiry.

    The document attached to the FOI answer by the details given of dates indicates that there was such preparation between committee sessions.

    There was also discussion between some witnesses regarding the questioning which had already occurred and that which was likely to occur. Both are completely improper.
    It appears a serious crime has taken place.

    Both the inquiry hearings and the Freedom of Information answer given by the Scottish Government are in the public domain.

    So the Procurator Fiscal’s office and Police Scotland are well aware of all the facts set out above. There must now be a police investigation.

    The result of that investigation could well be prosecutions. Any attempt to undermine justice itself must always be resisted.

    – Alistair Bonnington is a former honorary professor at Glasgow University School of Law.”

    I’m not sure who Mr Bonnington is, and an honorary professor doesn’t sound like an expert, but at least he’s asking the right questions. Should the police be investigating though, and why didn’t parliament or the committee bring up the issue at the time? Was everyone in parliament and government hoping it would go away after the election, and does that election ‘wipe the slate clean’?

    I certainly don’t believe any slates should be wiped clean, how can government ever be held accountable, of even be expected to take responsibility in the first place, if they can’t be prosecuted after the fact?

    There is also, of course, the evidence of the (accuser) witnesses in the criminal trial keeping in contact throughout, for support they said – so in the same vein this should have also been investigated. COPFS and the police don’t appear to be interested in potential law breaking, for some people, though.


    1. Google (and the like) is your friend, Contrary… quite easy to discover that Alistair Bonnington was for many years a law lecturer at the University of Glasgow (teaching indeed a young N. F. Sturgeon – not that her few legal years appear to have been particularly distinguished!) Honorary status is something I suspect he would have been awarded for a period after his retirement from full-time academic life. He also used to provide legal advice to BBC Scotland and you can find quite a few instances where he has spoken (and spoken out) on legal topics over the years, at least as far back as being part of Glasgow University’s Lockerbie Trial Briefing Unit (remember that?!).
      Turning to the questions he raises in the article in The Scotsman, they seem valid to me… yet another example of the monumental brass neck enjoyed by the current Scottish Government (and perhaps a selectively asleep Crown Office too). Manufacture of this brass neck is the central plank in a policy to restore heavy engineering and metalworking to Scottish industry. It will guarantee a job for anyone who wants one for the next 50 years at this rate.


    2. And people that condense and summarise the results of an Internet search are even more of my friend, Rhadamanthus 🙂

      As an aside; I do use DuckDuckGo as my main search engine, it has improved enormously these last few years but Google is sometimes needed on some subjects (boring work stuff mostly) – just so I’m not adding to google’s evil empire of meta data gathering. The fact is though, once folk start using your brand name as a verb you are on to a winner, so it’s a drop in the ocean, really.

      Mm-mm I do indeed remember Lockerbie, interesting background.

      Brass neck and poor policy decisions do appear to be the mainstay of this current government – but that doesn’t excuse the way that this fairly obvious serious breach (of something) has just been breezed over and ignored by nearly everyone. Are we really at the stage where there is no official in Scotland who feels able to be critical and speak out? It implies a culture of fear pervades.

      Alex Slamond has insisted that the leadership is at fault in all those institutions that have failed us – I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt on this, and would like to see him given the opportunity to show us it can be fixed. In fact, I would be relieved to see him in parliament again – all the opposition MSPs will have to up their game which can only benefit us, and he will put forward alternative proposals on various things that have at least some bearing in reality. He’s given some fairly candid interviews to a few Indy bloggers, and I’d say he’s learned some lessons – harsh ones – from recent events, and in particular ones about relying on the good intentions of those in government not to abuse the power they are given is not a good idea. That is, he knows strict rules need to be in place to prevent it.

      It’s very frustrating that there are so many issues ‘on hold’ while we wait for the election to be over.


  18. We shouldn’t fall into the trap of looking at Alex’s case in isolation. I think someone on Craig Murray’s blog posted about this harrowing story.

    Personally I find the comment attributed to Carwyn Jones – “Politics is a dirty game” to be callous almost beyond belief.

    And then there’s this

    And no doubt many more

    It’s almost as if there’s some sort of mass hysteria going on.

    Personally I blame the blurring of the line between ‘Positive Action’ which is legal and ‘Positive Discrimination’ which is illegal.

    The current SNP along with so many notable other Public Bodies including the BBC are quite blatantly breaking the law by openly indulging in ‘Positive Discrimination’

    The old sayings still apply

    “Give an inch and they’ll take a mile’

    “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”

    I can foresee the following fictional interview turning into reality.

    “Good morning miss, oh I mean mist..oh I mean cis. Tell me about the skills you can bring to the table that would encourage my company to hire you?”

    “I’m transsexual”


    “That’s all you need to know”

    “No sorry I’m afraid we’ll need some more detailed information”

    “No you don’t”

    “Well in that case this interview is over”

    “You’ll be sorry”


  19. Contrary and others

    I don’t know if you’ve already met this new kid on the ‘Blogosphere’ block but if not can I introduce him now:-

    Oh and while I’m here, I read this piece of apparent whimsey by (I presume) former MP Sir George Reid in the latest edition of ‘Scottish Review’:-

    I don’t know if it’s just the way my mind works or did George pen it as a metaphor for Scotland and the Yes movement.


    1. Thanks IM, I’ll keep an eye on that new blog, looks interesting.

      Jaggy plants are the bane of my life, as I scrabble in undergrowth in the search of interesting fungi, brambles rip your legs to shreds and trip you up, meanwhile hawthorn endlessly try to poke your eyes out and grab your jacket to halt progress. Trouble is, it turns out all these jaggy plants are native to Scotland so there isn’t much excuse for clearing them out! Eating one’s picnic amongst thistles and nettles can be a challenge too.

      I use the word jaggy a lot 🙂

      And I think we have a fairly jaggy course ahead of us, politically, so gaiters and other PPE are recommended.


  20. Are you still intending to complete the third and fourth instalments of “A Very Scottish Coup” Gordon or has the statement from Alex Salmond regarding civil and criminal complaints put these on the back burner?


  21. Press Release

    Nicola Sturgeon has demanded the immediate arrest of this horrible man. How dare he think he can take advantage of a poor defenceless Swedish policewoman.


    And then to kidnap her and force her on an all expenses paid holiday to force feed her alcohol. How evil can you get?

    In addition Nicola Sturgeon has also demanded that UEFA rescind all the Fair Play Awards issued to the Tartan Army since 1992.

    In a prepared statement she commented:-

    “For the past thirty years the evil Scottish Football supporters known as the Tartan Army have hoodwinked the civilized world. On over 70 separate occasions these monsters have brainwashed so many people and organisations into believing they are kind hearted and sociable people with not an inch of malice in them.
    Nothing can be further from the truth.
    They may think they can bamboozle everyone with their so called donations to Children’s Charities in the countries they visit on their travels. They may think that, by donating £5000 each and every time, they are being ambassadors for Scotland.
    No No No
    They may have hoodwinked the rest of the world.
    But they can’t fool me. These dinosaurs have no place in my modern world.
    They must be exterminated. Exterminated. Exterminated.
    And that is why I am calling on, no demanding, that Police Scotland apprehend the monster that set the whole evil scheme in motion and by doing so help me in my quest to control the minds of right thinking citizens everywhere”.


  22. Mr. Dangerfield,
    After the result of last Thursday, in particular, Alex Salmond’s failure to get himself elected, I think your efforts to uncover who new what and when they new, in regard to Nicola Sturgeon and the investigation into Alex Salmond behavior, it is now I think, a meaningless exercise.
    Obviously, you are entitled to spend your time as you wish. The subject clearly fascinates you and others on this site. I I am not trying to dissuade you from your forensic investigation, if that is what you to do, my point is, this is now an academic exercise and is of little or no interest to the general public.
    In other words, if there was any wronging doing by NS and her advisors she has got away with it. .


    1. I would suggest that she has not gotten away with it yet. There are two complaints still to be addressed. A criminal complaint to the police regarding the leak of Salmond’s name to the Daily Record and a further civil case against the Scottish Government. Either or both of these could be career ending for those involved.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Richard, if I were one of these internet people who likes to jump on others even with only scant evidence of their beliefs, I’m afraid I’d have to assume you were a paid-up Sturgeonista, selling the “don’t look, nothing to see, move along” line. Sorry if that would be an unfair conclusion! Just because it may take time for evidence to emerge does not necessarily negate the importance of the evidence or the weight of its consequences. Do we need to consider a list of miscarriages of justice in this country or elsewhere to illustrate the correctness of looking for fresh evidence? Or a list of extant investigations into historical crimes (Carl Beech/Operation Midland excepted!) to see how important it is for those involved to get the truth? Do you want to encourage others in public office to do what they like in the confident belief that can get away with anything they like?
      I’m looking forward to our host’s further insights as soon as he can distil them. Like a good whisky, you want it to be accessible but have to accept it may be a wee while in the making…


    3. Richard, you won’t be surprised to hear that I agree with Colin and Rhadamanthus here. Whether or not Sturgeon and her cronies get away with what they have done is largely irrelevant to me at this point. I intend to continue telling the truth about it to anyone who cares to read it. (I will mention again, though, that Nixon won by a landslide in 1972 and announced triumphantly that Watergate was behind him.)

      Liked by 1 person

  23. I know it’s a long shot, but it’s clear from the Spycops scandal that even hippy socialists pose a sufficient threat to the British State that police are concocting entirely fictitious lives in order to spy on them 24/7. It follows that the SNP / Scottish Government must be infiltrated and spied on 24/7 by the security services, as they truly are a clear and present danger to the British state.

    There must be actual audio (and/or video) recordings of all of these hush-hush-no-official-record exchanges in politician’s offices, official residences and private homes. The missing / redacted text conversations must also be sitting in some hard drive somewhere at GCHQ.

    They must know what was said between Sturgeon and her advisors. They must know if woman H was really in Bute house. They must have recordings. Occasionally a FOI request, or questions in parliament yield unexpected results eg the McCrone report. It’s worth a try to blow the whole thing open.


    1. Alistair, that’s an intriguing suggestion, which I’ll ponder…

      One of my favourite stories from the Spycops book was one of the fringe groups, I think it was London Greenpeace, which was only kept going for about a year because three of its half dozen or so members were Special Branch, MI5 and some private security firm from “the circuit”. But of course we’re all mad conspiracy theorists for thinking such people walk among us!


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