If you want to know how utterly bereft of truth the whole political process now is in Scotland you need look no further than the Fabiani Whitewash – aka the “Report of the Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints”.
One of the many reasons why the Sturgeon clique had to concede Alex Salmond’s judicial review was that Investigating Officer Judith Mackinnon had effectively appointed herself to that role in the complaint of the individual known as Ms B.
This was in the clearest possible breach of the Scottish Government’s own procedure.
It’s just one of the many scandals in the process that ended up costing the Scottish taxpayer well over a million pounds and counting but it’s self-evidently an important one.
It’s one that should have been investigated with great rigour by the Fabiani inquiry so that clear findings could have been made and responsibility apportioned.
Instead, they’ve found the most contemptible way of avoiding any contact with the truth.
The Scottish Government retained two QCs and and at least one junior counsel for external legal advice and representation throughout the process of the Salmond judicial review. In the lead was Roddy Dunlop, QC.
Dunlop is now Dean of the Faculty of Advocates and has for a long time been one of the most sought-after and respected advocates in Scotland.
In an increasingly horrified series of legal opinions leading up to the final concession of the judicial review, Dunlop charted the ongoing failure of the Sturgeon clique, most prominently Permanent Secretary Leslie Evans, to disclose to their legal team anything close to the full horrors of what they had done.
One such opinion came on 19 December 2018 when it had at last come to light that Investigating Officer (IO) Judith Mackinnon had not only had multiple inappropriate prior contacts with complainers Ms A and B but had effectively appointed herself IO as soon as Ms B’s complaint was received.
I’ll let you read the opinion for yourself. It’s admirably clear and no reader of it can be left in any doubt as to what their own senior counsel thought of the Scottish Government’s “alarming” conduct:
An “unstatable” defence; the deepening “dismay” of counsel; “unexplained” and “frankly inexplicable” failures to disclose vital and obviously relevant documents; the “extreme professional embarrassment” suffered by counsel “as a result of assurances which we have given, both to our opponents and to the court, which assurances have been given on instructions, turning out to be false as a result of the revelation of further documents, highly relevant yet undisclosed.”
And I’ll just remind you here that not a single person in the Scottish Government has resigned, nor has the Fabiani Whitewash even remotely suggested that anyone should resign, over this state of affairs.
But let’s go to the facts themselves:
One of the “alarming” disclosures that had finally been made to Dunlop, the concealment of which to that point was “unexplained” and “frankly inexplicable”, was that less than half an hour after receiving Ms B’s formal complaint by email on 24 January 2018, Judith Mackinnon was writing to Ms B, and arranging to meet her as Investigating Officer without ever having been appointed to that position as required by the procedure.
For the avoidance of doubt, Ms B submitted her formal complaint by email to Mackinnon at 1.56 pm on 24 January 2018.
Less than half an hour later, at 2.23 pm on 24 January 2018, Mackinnon emailed Ms B, acknowledging the complaint and discussing arrangements for meeting her as Investigating Officer.
This is what paragraph 10 of the procedure says about the appointment and status of the IO:
“In the event that a formal complaint of harassment is received against a former Minister, the Director of People will designate a senior civil servant as the Investigating Officer to deal with the complaint. That person will have had no prior involvement with any aspect of the matter being raised.”
The Scottish Government’s Director of People in January 2018 was Nicola Richards. Only she had the authority to appoint an Investigating Officer.
And of course that authority could only be exercised after a formal complaint was received.
No such appointment was made by Nicola Richards on 24 January 2018 – or ever.
Thus, as Dunlop points out in his opinion (having only just discovered these facts):
“The complaint had only just been made. No one had appointed an IO for this complaint. The IO has effectively appointed herself in that regard.”
This was just one of the bombshell disclosures finally made at this point that would very soon make counsel realise that the Scottish Government’s case had been “unstatable” from the outset.
It was, however, a self-evidently important one.
The Leslie Evans version
Reproduced exactly below (with my own gloss in square brackets) is how the Scottish Government – which means, in effect, Leslie Evans – tried to recast what you’ve just read above in their Statement to the Fabiani Whitewash.
Note that they can’t even get their own terminology right. The procedure provides for an “Investigating” — not “Investigation” — Officer:
“Ms B notified the Director for People [Richards] on 23 January 2018 of her decision to make a formal complaint. The Director for People [Richards] then contacted the Head of People Advice [Mackinnon] to inform her and to agree that the Director for People [Richards] would notify Ms B that the Head of People Advice [Mackinnon] was conducting the investigation and that she would be in contact. The Investigation [sic] Officer [Mackinnon] contacted Ms B to let her know that the Director for People [Richards] had informed her of Ms B’s intention to make a formal complaint. The Head of Branch People Directorate 3 [I have no idea who, or what, this is] then set up a telephone call for Ms B to speak to the Investigation Officer [Mackinnon]. Ms B followed this call up by submitting her complaint by email.”
There’s the trademark Evans obfuscation and use of ludicrous job titles to try to disguise the facts but if you struggle your way through it, you’ll see that the key trick is pulled here:
“The Investigation Officer contacted Ms B …”
When Mackinnon contacted Ms B, prior to the making of her formal complaint, “to let her know that [Richards] had informed her of Ms B’s intention to make a formal complaint”, she was not the Investigating Officer.
That is a brazen and quite deliberate Scottish Government lie.
It is simply impossible, as a matter of the most obvious fact, for Mackinnon to have been the Investigating Officer of Ms B’s formal complaint until that formal complaint was submitted, and at the time of this contact no such complaint had been submitted.
What Mackinnon was in fact doing was having “prior involvement” with Ms B which, along with many other breaches of paragraph 10, rendered her purported appointment later as Investigating Officer unlawful and the Scottish Government’s case at judicial review “unstatable”.
That is made as clear as can be in Roddy Dunlop’s opinion of 19 December 2018. It was one of the factors that forced Evans and the rest of the Sturgeon clique into finally accepting defeat, and therefore one of the factors which gave rise to Fabiani’s Committee in the first place.
So the attempt by the Scottish Government here to deceive Fabiani’s Committee should be obvious.
Anyone who looks at it with any degree of care can see through it immediately, let alone a representative group of Members of the Scottish Parliament who have been closely scrutinising the relevant issues for months, and have highly competent and professional specialist staff to assist them in the task.
Well, let’s see.
The standard of competence and integrity of the Fabiani Whitewash
These are the findings of the Fabiani Whitewash on Mackinnon’s unlawful “prior involvement” with Ms B and her effective appointment of herself as Investigating Officer, in the clearest possible breaches of paragraph 10 of the procedure:
“Ms A made a formal complaint on 16 January 2018 and Ms B on 23 January 2018. These were made to the Director of People” [my emphasis].
“The Director of People appointed the Head of People Advice as the Investigating Officer under the procedure. This appointment was made … on 23 January 2018 in relation to the complaint made by Ms B” [my emphasis].
How could Ms B’s complaint be made to Richards on 23 January 2018 when it was not made (to Mackinnon) until 1.56 pm on 24 January 2018?
How could Mackinnon be appointed Investigating Officer of Ms B’s complaint on 23 January 2018 when that complaint was not made until 1.56 pm on 24 January 2018?
From a Committee of the Scottish Parliament charged with the careful and diligent conduct of one of the most important investigations in the whole history of the Parliament, answer comes there none.
All we get is this timeline in an Appendix to the Report:
23 January 2018: Ms B notifies the Director of People of her intention to make a formal complaint.
The Head of People Advice is appointed Investigating Officer under the procedure for the complaint of Ms B. A call is arranged between her and Ms B for the following day.
24 January 2018: The Head of People Advice, acting as Investigating Officer, and Ms B speak on the phone. Ms B’s formal complaint is subsequently received by email.
26 January 2018: A meeting between Ms B and the Head of People Advice, acting as Investigating Officer, is held for the formal interview on Ms B’s complaint.
This is Orwellian doublethink hiding in plain sight.
I’m sure I don’t need to point it out by now but I will anyway, just in case any Fabiani Whitewash MSPs or staff are reading this (though even then, frankly, I’m not confident they’ll grasp it).
The Head of People Advice can’t have been appointed as Investigating Officer of Ms B’s complaint on 23 January 2018 because Ms B didn’t make her complaint until 24 January 2018.
The Head of People Advice can’t have been acting as Investigating Officer when she spoke to Ms B on the phone because it was only subsequently that Ms B made her complaint.
When a Committee of the Scottish Parliament specifically convened for the purpose can’t even get its most basic and important facts right, it’s clear that the Scottish people need to look elsewhere for some person or body that can get to the truth.
We need a judicial inquiry
The writer and academic David Lodge once described Jacques Derrida’s ludicrous poststructuralist “theories” of “deconstruction” as offering to impressionable young college students “the thrill of sawing through the branch you’re sitting on”.
We know of course that Sturgeon and her clique are in thrall to such post-truth “theories” because they lie behind the reality-denying “gender identity” nonsense, and much else, that they are about to try to impose yet more deeply on the Scottish people.
It’s disappointing to say the least that the whole Scottish Parliament are apparently ready and willing to saw through the branch they’re sitting on too.
The Fabiani Whitewash is a bad joke, and all that is said above is but one of myriad examples, some of which I’ll say more about in future posts.
We desperately need a judicial inquiry into what was done to Alex Salmond and why.