Sturgeon: Handling of Salmond situation will say alot of SNP and Scotland

31 August 2018, 18:35

nicola sturgeon

Nicola Sturgeon has told SNP colleagues that how they deal with sexual misconduct allegations against Alex Salmond "will say a lot about who we are as a party and also about the country we are today".

The First Minister addressed the issue in a meeting with MPs and MSPs just days after Mr Salmond resigned from the party as he challenges the Scottish Government over the way allegations against him have been handled.

Two complaints, fiercely denied by Mr Salmond, were raised in January against him and he was informed of an investigation in March.

The allegations about his conduct towards two staff members in 2013, while he was first minister, emerged last week with Police Scotland having already confirmed the complaints have been passed to the force.

Mr Salmond's lawyers said a petition for judicial review in the Court of Session was served on legal representatives of the Scottish Government on Friday morning.

Ms Sturgeon spoke to SNP MPs and MSPs in Edinburgh on Friday before the UK and Scottish parliaments return next week.

She said: "How we deal with this, and how we are seen to respond to this, will say a lot about who we are as a party and also about the country we are today and want to build for the future.

"I believe in a Scotland where there is equality before the law, where there's not one rule for the powerful and another rule for everyone else, and where all parties get fair and due process.

"Let's not forget that at the heart of this, amidst all the focus on process, politics and personalities, there are two people who have brought forward complaints, which cannot have been at all easy to do.

"I want to be not just the First Minister but also a citizen of a country where people feel that they can come forward and know that their complaints will be taken seriously.

"Therefore, in everything we do and say, we need to make sure that we are not making it harder for people to come forward in the future - otherwise, we risk setting back so much of the progress that has been made in recent times."

An SNP spokeswoman said Ms Sturgeon was given "a very warm response" from colleagues who understand how difficult the situation has been for her.

Confirmation of action from Mr Salmond's lawyers came as his crowdfunding campaign to help towards his legal costs got closer to raising £100,000.

But Mr Salmond's decision to ask the public for financial support has been branded "unprecedented" and "unbelievable" by opposition politicians - with some urging people to donate cash to women's organisations instead of giving money to the former SNP leader, who served at both Holyrood and Westminster during his lengthy political career.

Mr Salmond quit the SNP because he feared there would be "substantial internal division" within the party if his successor was forced to suspend him.

Earlier, a statement from solicitors Levy & McRae - who are representing Mr Salmond - said: "We can confirm at 10am this morning, a petition for judicial review in the Court of Session by Mr Alex Salmond was served on the legal representatives of the Scottish Government.

"We can also confirm that first respondent is the Permanent Secretary, Ms Leslie Evans, who established the procedure which is the subject of challenge. The second respondent is the Scottish Government.

"Mr Salmond has no further comment to make but intends to leave the matter for the Court to determine."

A Scottish Government spokesman said it would "vigorously defend" its position.

"As we stated last week there are a number of inaccuracies in Mr Salmond's public statements which for legal reasons we cannot address just now," the spokesman said.

"We will address those matters in court.

"But no-one should forget that there are two complaints that could not be ignored or swept under the carpet.

"As a responsible employer, the Scottish Government had to address those complaints appropriately."