Sturgeon told she would already ‘be a goner’ in normal times – Salmond prepares evidence

Nicola Sturgeon made ‘basic mistake’ says Tony Miklinski

Former Scottish first minister Alex Salmond has alleged the Scottish Government failed to release “crucial” documents that he says put him at a disadvantage in both his criminal trial and legal challenge against the Government’s investigation into allegations of sexual harassment. The former first minister also revealed his legal team has now asked the Lord Advocate whether the Government was in contempt of court over the “withholding of relevant evidence”. Ms Sturgeon is currently under investigation by the independent adviser on the Scottish ministerial code over whether she failed to inform officials about contacts with Mr Salmond.

But there have been claims the SNP leader may already have been removed from her position if the country was not focused on tackling the pandemic instead.

A source told the BBC: “I think in normal times she would be a goner.

“But I don’t think she is a goner because people are rightly focused on the pandemic and her handling of the pandemic has been great.”

The Government’s investigation into allegations of sexual harassment against Mr Salmond was successfully challenged by the former first minister in January 2019.

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He was awarded £512,250 after the Court of Session ruled the investigation was unlawful and “tainted by apparent bias” because of prior communication between the investigating officer and complainants.

A jury acquitted Mr Salmond of all charges of sexual assault and an attempted rape after a trial at the High Court in Edinburgh.

A Holyrood committee was then set up to examine the Scottish Government’s handling of the harassment complaints.

Ms Sturgeon had initially told Holyrood she first heard of the complaints of sexual misconduct against her predecessor at a meeting with him at her home on April 2, 2018.

But during Mr Salmond’s subsequent criminal trial, it was revealed Ms Sturgeon had been made aware of the allegations at an informal meeting with his former chief of staff Geoff Aberdein on March 29.

The First Minister later told the enquiry she forgot about the meeting.

Earlier this month, a spokesperson for the Scottish Government said: “The First Minister and the Permanent Secretary stand by what has been said to parliament and in written evidence to the committee.

“The Permanent Secretary has also already provided detailed answers in person to the committee and will provide further oral evidence on Tuesday.

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“The First Minister looks forward to answering questions when she appears later this month.

“In relation to the ministerial code referral, Mr Hamilton has the freedom to investigate as he feels is appropriate and we will not prejudge that process.”

Mr Salmond has now criticised the Government for not providing his legal team with some of the documents that have now been released, and questioned whether it amounted to contempt of court.

In written evidence to the committee, Mr Salmond said his lawyers have discovered 46 documents from the Government’s latest submission of almost 400 documents to the parliamentary inquiry that were not provided as part of either the criminal or civil court processes.

He wrote: “Of these, some are of limited interest but many are crucial and could have been significant in both the civil and criminal proceedings.

“First, some of these withheld documents would have added a further powerful argument to the judicial review on bias, not just reinforcing the revelations about the role of the investigating officer, but also introducing an argument of bias in the actions of the decision maker, the permanent secretary.”

A spokesperson for Ms Sturgeon said: “The First Minister entirely rejects Mr Salmond’s claims about the ministerial code.

“The First Minister is concentrating on fighting the pandemic, stands by what she has said, and will address these matters in full when she appears at committee in the coming weeks.”

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