Salmond’s Submission To Inquiry

What to expect as Holyrood's Salmond inquiry gets under way – STV News
Left to right: Nicola Sturgeon, husband Peter Murrell, Alex Salmond, and Leslie Evans

This 31 December 2020 submission from Alex Salmond to the Holyrood Inquiry, is published on the basis the members of the Committee have had it in their possession and read it by now, and it is in the public domain, published elsewhere. Moreover, it does not contravene any judicial retrictions. The remit is below.

The Inquiry is not investigating the Rt Honorable former First Minister Alex Salmond, but specifically how two trials of Alex Salmond amount to unwarranted targetting, exploiting a civil service code of conduct – no civil servant was charged; wasting the Scottish court’s time, and costing the taxpayer at least one million pounds. This makes necessary an inspection in detail of the process that took place resulting in a very public fisaco, and the smearing of a respected politician.

Salmond is the only Scottish politician on the UK stage who gives the British state cause for alarm at the probable break-up of a fractured United Kingdom. Beyond making that remark, the submission is published without comment or quotation for readers to make their own judgement.

The current First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, denies all claims made by Alex Salmond, and intends to state her case in full, when she is called to do so by the Inquiry.

Introduction

1. This is a submission to James Hamilton at his repeated request to assist in his examination of possible breaches of the Ministerial Code by the First Minister.

2. I have also shared this submission with the Parliamentary Committee as it is relevant to Phase Four of their Inquiry into complaints handling by Civil Servants, Government Ministers and Special Advisers.

3. The Whatsapp messages between myself and the First Minister were provided to the Parliamentary Committee by the First Minister and published by them. Therefore, I do not enclose them here, save for the inclusion of the message of 13th July 2018 in unredacted form referred to below. (Appendix A)


The Terms of Reference

4.Mr Hamilton wrote to me on 8th September, 29th October, 16th November, 4th and 19th December. I replied on 6th and 17th October, 23rd November and 23rd December. I finally agreed under some protest to make this submission.

The reason for my concern is that the remit drawn up for Mr Hamilton focuses on whether the First Minister intervened in a civil service process. As I have pointed out to Mr Hamilton, I know of no provisions in the Ministerial Code which makes it improper for a First Minister to so intervene.

5. To the contrary, intervention by the First Minister in an apparently unlawful process (subsequently confirmed by the Court of Session) would not constitute a breach precisely because the First Minister is under a duty in clause 2.30 of the Ministerial Code to avoid such illegality on the part of the Government she leads.

6. Further, to suggest intervention was a breach would be to ignore and contradict the express reliance of the procedure on the position of the First Minister as the leader of the party to which the former minister was a member in order to administer some unspecified sanction.

7. It will accordingly be a significant surprise if any breach of the Ministerial Code is found when the terms of reference have been tightly drafted by the Deputy First Minister to focus on that aspect of the First Minister’s conduct.

8. By contrast, I have information which suggests other related breaches of the Ministerial Code which should properly be examined by Mr Hamilton. I have asked that he undertake that investigation. I have drawn his attention to the apparent parliamentary assurance from the First Minister on 29th October 2020 that there was no restriction on Mr Hamilton preventing him from doing so.

9. Mr Hamilton has failed to give me a clear response as to whether these related matters relevant to the Ministerial Code, but outwith the specific remit, are going to be considered. However, in his letter of 4th December he did indicate that he was inclined to the view that such matters could be considered and will take into account arguments for their inclusion. It is on that basis I make this submission.

10. In doing so, I would note that it does not serve the public interest if the independent process of examination of the Ministerial Code (which I introduced as First Minister) is predetermined, or seen to be predetermined, by a restrictive remit given by the Deputy First Minister.

11. A restricted investigation would not achieve its purpose of genuine independent determination and would undermine confidence in what has been a useful innovation in public accountability.

12. I would accordingly urge Mr Hamilton to embrace the independence of his role and the express assurance given to the Scottish Parliament by the First Minister that he is free to expand the original remit drafted by the Deputy First Minister and to address each of the matters contained in this submission.

Breaches of the Ministerial Code.

13. Beyond the terms of the remit set for Mr Hamilton by the Deputy First Minister, there are other aspects of the conduct of the First Minister which, in my submission, require scrutiny and determination in relation to breaches of the Ministerial Code.

14. I was contacted by phone on or around 9 March 2018 and further the following week by Geoff Aberdein, my former Chief of Staff. The purpose of the contact was to tell me about meetings he had held with the First Minister’s Chief of Staff, Liz Lloyd, at her request.

15. In the second of these meetings she had informed him that she was aware of two complaints concerning me under a new complaints process introduced to include former Ministers. She named one of the complainers to him. At that stage I did not know the identity of the other complainer.

16. On receipt of the letter from the Permanent Secretary first informing me of complaints on 7th March 2018 I had secured Levy and McRae as my solicitors and Duncan Hamilton, Advocate and Ronnie Clancy QC as my counsel.

17. Even at this early stage we had identified that there were a range of serious deficiencies in the procedure. There was no public or parliamentary record of it ever being adopted. In addition it contained many aspects of both procedural unfairness and substantive illegality.

There was an obvious and immediate question over the respect to which the Scottish Government even had jurisdiction to consider the complaints. In relation to former Ministers (in contrast to current Ministers) it offered no opportunity for mediation. The complaints procedure of which I was familiar (‘Fairness at Work’) was based on the legislative foundation of the Ministerial Code in which the First Minister was the final decision maker.

I wished to bring all of these matters to the attention of the First Minister. I did not know at that stage the degree of knowledge and involvement in the policy on the part of both the First Minister and her Chief of Staff.

18. Mr Aberdein had been asked by Ms Lloyd to be her contact with me and they jointly arranged a meeting with the First Minister in the Scottish Parliament on 29th March 2018. This meeting was for the purpose of discussing the complaints and thereafter arranging a direct meeting between myself and the First Minister.

There was never the slightest doubt what the meeting was about. Any suggestion by the First Minister to the Scottish Parliament (Official Report, 8th October 2020) that the meeting was ‘fleeting or opportunistic’ is simply untrue.

It was agreed on the 29th March 2018 at the meeting in the Scottish Parliament attended by Mr Aberdein and the First Minister [REDACTED] that the meeting between myself and the First Minister would take place on 2nd April at her home near Glasgow. Self-evidently only the First Minister could issue that invitation to her private home.

19. In attendance at the meeting on 2nd April 2018 were Mr Aberdein, Mr Hamilton, Ms Lloyd and myself. The First Minister and I met privately and then there was a general discussion with all five of us. My purpose was to alert the First Minister to the illegality of the process (not being aware at that time of her involvement in it) and to seek an intervention from the First Minister to secure a mediation process to resolve the complaints.

20. I was well aware that under the Ministerial Code the First Minister should notify the civil service of the discussion and believed that this would be the point at which she would make her views known. The First Minister assured us that she would make such an intervention at an appropriate stage.

21. On 23rd April 2018, I phoned the First Minister by arrangement on WhatsApp to say that a formal offer of mediation was being made via my solicitor to the Permanent Secretary that day. In the event, this offer was declined by the Permanent Secretary, even before it was put to the complainers.

22. By the end of May, it was becoming clear that the substantial arguments my legal team were making in correspondence against the legality of the procedure were not having any impact with the Permanent Secretary. My legal team advised that it was impossible properly to defend myself against the complaints under such a flawed procedure. They advised that a petition for Judicial Review would have excellent prospects of success given the Government were acting unlawfully.

However I was extremely reluctant to sue the Government I once led. I wanted to avoid the damage both to the Scottish Government and the SNP which would inevitably result. To avoid such a drastic step, I resolved to let the First Minister see the draft petition for Judicial Review. As a lawyer, and as First Minister, I assumed that she would see the legal jeopardy into which the government was drifting. I therefore sought a further meeting.

23. On 1st June 2018 the First Minister sent me a message which was the opposite of the assurance she had given on the 2nd April 2018 suggesting instead that she had always said that intervention was “not the right thing to do”.

That was both untrue and disturbing. On 3rd June 2018 I sent her a message on the implications for the Government in losing a Judicial Review and pointing to her obligation (under the Ministerial Code) to ensure that her administration was acting lawfully and (under the Scotland Act) to ensure that their actions were compliant with the European Convention.

24. The First Minister and I met in Aberdeen on 7th June 2018 when I asked her to look at the draft Judicial Review Petition. She did briefly but made it clear she was now disinclined to make any intervention.

25. My desire to avoid damaging and expensive litigation remained. My legal team thereafter offered arbitration as an alternative to putting the matter before the Court of Session. That proposal was designed to offer a quick and relatively inexpensive means of demonstrating the illegality of the procedure in a process which guaranteed the confidentiality of the complainers.It would also have demonstrated the illegality of the process in a forum which would be much less damaging to the Scottish Government than the subsequent public declaration of illegality.

I was prepared at that time to engage fully with the procedure in the event my legal advice was incorrect. In the event, of course, it was robust. I explained the advantages of such an approach to the First Minister in a Whatsapp message of 5th July 2018.

26. I received a message via Geoff Aberdein from her Chief of Staff Liz Lloyd (the initial the First Minister has redacted from my relevant WhatsApp message is “L”) on the 13th July 2018 that the First Minister wanted to see me again and we met once again at her house at her request the following day, 14th July 2018. This is shown at Appendix A.

There was no-one else at this meeting. She specifically agreed to correct the impression that had been suggested to my counsel in discussions between our legal representatives that she was opposed to arbitration. I followed this up with a WhatsApp message on the 16th July 2018.

27. On 18th July 2018 the First Minister phoned me at 13.05 to say that arbitration had been rejected and suggested that this was on the advice of the Law Officers. She urged me to submit a substantive rebuttal of the specific complaints against me, suggested that the general complaints already answered were of little consequence and would be dismissed, and then assured me that my submission would be judged fairly.

She told me I would receive a letter from the Permanent Secretary offering me further time to submit such a rebuttal which duly arrived later that day. As it turned out the rebuttal once submitted was given only cursory examination by the Investigating Officer in the course of a single day and she had already submitted her final report to the Permanent Secretary.

My view is now that it was believed that my submission of a rebuttal would weaken the case for Judicial Review (my involvement in rebutting the substance of the complaints being seen to cure the procedural unfairness) and that the First Minister’s phone call of 18th July 2018 and the Permanent Secretary’s letter of the same date suggesting that it was in my “interests” to submit a substantive response was designed to achieve that.

28. In terms of the meetings with me, the only breaches of the Ministerial Code are the failure to inform civil servants timeously of the nature of the meetings.

29. My view is that the First Minister should have informed the Permanent Secretary of the legal risks they were running and ensured a proper examination of the legal position and satisfied herself that her Government were acting lawfully.

30. Further once the Judicial Review had commenced, and at the very latest by October 31st 2018 the Government and the First Minister knew of legal advice from external counsel (the First Minister consulted with counsel on 13th November) that on the balance of probability they would lose the Judicial Review and be found to have acted unlawfully.

Despite this the legal action was continued until early January 2019 and was only conceded after both Government external counsel threatened to resign from the case which they considered to be unstateable. This, on any reading, is contrary to section 2.30 of the Ministerial Code.

31. Most seriously, Parliament has been repeatedly misled on a number of occasions about the nature of the meeting of 2nd April 2018.

32. The First Minister told Parliament (see Official Report of 8th,10th & 17th January 2019) that she first learned of the complaints against me when I visited her home on 2nd April 2018. That is untrue and is a breach of the Ministerial Code.

The evidence from Mr Aberdein that he personally discussed the existence of the complaints, and summarised the substance of the complaints, with the First Minister in a pre arranged meeting in Parliament on 29th March 2018 arranged for that specific purpose cannot be reconciled with the position of the First Minister to Parliament.

The fact that Mr Aberdein learned of these complaints in early March 2018 from the Chief of Staff to the First Minister who thereafter arranged for the meeting between Mr Aberdein and the First Minister on 29th March to discuss them, is supported by his sharing that information contemporaneously with myself, Kevin Pringle and Duncan Hamilton, Advocate.

33. In her written submission to the Committee, the First Minister has subsequently admitted to that meeting on 29th March 2018, claiming to have previously ‘forgotten’ about it. That is, with respect, untenable.

The pre-arranged meeting in the Scottish Parliament of 29th March 2018 was “forgotten” about because acknowledging it would have rendered ridiculous the claim made by the First Minister in Parliament that it had been believed that the meeting on 2nd April was on SNP Party business (Official Report 8th & 10th January 2019) and thus held at her private residence.

In reality all participants in that meeting were fully aware of what the meeting was about and why it had been arranged. The meeting took place with a shared understanding of the issues for discussion – the complaints made and the Scottish Government procedure which had been launched.

The First Minister’s claim that it was ever thought to be about anything other than the complaints made against me is wholly false.

The failure to account for the meeting on 29th March 2018 when making a statement to Parliament, and thereafter failing to correct that false representation, is a further breach of the Ministerial Code.

Further, the repeated representation to the Parliament of the meeting on the 2nd April 2018 as being a ‘party’ meeting because it proceeded in ignorance of the complaints is false and manifestly untrue. The meeting on 2nd April 2018 was arranged as a direct consequence of the prior meeting about the complaints held in the Scottish Parliament on 29th March 2018.

34. The First Minister additionally informed Parliament (Official Report 10th January 2018) that ‘I did not know how the Scottish Government was dealing with the complaint, I did not know how the Scottish Government intended to deal with the complaint and I did not make any effort to find out how the Scottish Government was dealing with the complaint or to intervene in how the Scottish Government was dealing with the complaint.’

I would contrast that position with the factual position at paragraphs 20 and 27 above. The First Minister’s position on this is simply untrue. She did initially offer to intervene, in the presence of all those at the First Minister’s house on the 2nd April 2018.

Moreover, she did engage in following the process of the complaint and indeed reported the status of that process to me personally.

35. I also believe it should be investigated further in terms of the Ministerial Code, whether the criminal leak of part of the contents of the Permanent Secretary’s Decision report to the Daily Record was sourced from the First Minister’s Office.

We now know from a statement made by the Daily Record editor that they received a document. I enclose at Appendix B the summary of the ICO review of the complaint which explains the criminal nature of the leak and the identification of 23 possible staff sources of the leak given that the Prosecutor has “sympathy with the hypothesis that the leak came from an employee of the Scottish Government”.

My reasoning is as follows. The leak did not come from me, or anyone representing me. In fact I sought interdict to prevent publication and damage to my reputation. The leak is very unlikely indeed to have come from either of the two complainers.

The Chief Constable, correctly, refused to accept a copy of the report when it was offered to Police Scotland on August 21st 2018 by the Crown Agent. It cannot, therefore have leaked from Police Scotland.

Scottish Government officials had not leaked the fact of an investigation from January when it started.

The only additional group of people to have received such a document, or summary of such a document, in the week prior to publication in the Daily Record was the First Minister’s Office as indicated in paragraph 4.8 of the ICO Prosecutor’s Report. In that office, the document would be accessed by the First Minister and her Special Advisers.

I would be happy to offer further information on this submission.

Rt Hon Alex Salmond
31st December 2020

***********************************************************************************

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Salmond’s Submission To Inquiry

  1. Seems to me AS is out to get not only Civil service, but also whoever persuaded FM she would break Ministerial Code if intervened- be they SNP or Civil service. Angry at NS for following that advice and for ignoring again when she was told that it was illegal & let it carry on.

    As with her social media accounts & the SNP spokesperson said, I think NS has given too many folk the power to ‘speak’ for her. folk dealing with various administration processes going unchecked? Perhaps AS is trying to expose that weakness on NS part but has to be brutal now- He did advise her hubby should not be in position before! Did hubby put those folk in those roles?

    Also, he is out to get the person who then leaked the failed illegal witch hunt to press?

    All of which SHOULD be part of Hamilton’s remit to investigate. because the resulting court case was a result of that insidious, illegal investigation! Someone is protecting ‘the leaker’ if they do not follow though on that! It is the forensic detail we are missing. No doubt AS will tell all in a book one day.

    Settle an argument please someone.

    I believe it was as a result of DRs ‘leaked story’ that the CPS HAD to look into the story. A claim that someone had been sexually assaulted in a newspaper story could not be ignored even if not victim came forward to police with it? The CPS then has to do it’s own investigation, but did they have to get docs from Evans & the interview the women even though those women did not want to bring legal case? Was it taken out of their hands? We heard the women were persuaded to tell their stories & assured it would not go to court if they did. In court we heard some say they did not want to be there. I never took that as ‘I never wanted to be assaulted’ More like ‘I am being forced to do this, when I was not expecting it to go to this’?

    NS is going to have to admit stupidity at best! The ‘I didn’t know the details’ bit is not really the issue. This is about who was behind the whole fecking crime. but it is going to damage NS despite there being no evidence she was involved in the set up of AS at all!

    2 birds-1 stone? All just my opinion of course.

  2. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! So good to see that you have recovered enough to still be Posting. Hope that you are really well and going from strength to strength. Always in my thoughts, a huge influence on my understanding of politics, and many other things, and you should be proud, I have been so busy helping. With Best Wishes for 2021 and love, Geraldine xxx
    AL Harron is my son. A Wilderness of Peace.

  3. Grouse Beater says:

    You’re welcome, Geraldine.Keep the faith! 🙂

  4. Terence Callachan says:

    This still does not show that NS tried to do anything she should not have done.
    As First Minister she cannot decide if a person should be charged with offences.
    As First Minister she has a duty to agree that loopholes in the law should be closed and if Ministers were previously allowed to avoid being charged with offences simply because they had been a Minister she would have no choice but to do something about closing such a loophole once informed of its existence.

    Once accusations of a grave nature are made the CPS would have to bring it to court if ten people were making the accusations.

    We still don’t know how the ten got together who organised that , how they did it and why they brought the ten together who discussed it where and when.

    NS has done nothing more than allow the loophole to be changed quite rightly so.

    AS being charged because of accusations by ten people rightly went to court how could anyone expect a case with ten accusers not to go to court.

    The evidence turned out to be flimsy , a lot of here say a fair amount proven to be incorrect .

    When found not guilty you are in the eyes of the law not guilty.

    There is nothing in this transcript that changes that…NOTHING.

    There is nothing in this transcript that shows Nicola Sturgeon doing anything illegal or anything underhand once the case was in front of the CPS she had to follow the route expected and required of a First Minister , no old pals act allowed but that doesn’t mean she acted in a way that could be construed as one of trying to condemn AS she was leaving the judgement to the court and quite right too.

  5. Grouse Beater says:

    “We still don’t know how the ten got together who organised that.”

    Oh yes we do, Terence.

    That process was made public ages ago. It was a key element that sunk Salmond’s accusers in both courts. More homework, please.

  6. paul botler says:

    This still does not show that NS tried to do anything she should not have done.

    Yes it does, she had no need to lie to parliament about perverting procedure to damage her only political rival.

    As First Minister she cannot decide if a person should be charged with offences.

    But she can have a word with the ,constitutionally vague , lord advocate.


    As First Minister she has a duty to agree that loopholes in the law should be closed and if Ministers were previously allowed to avoid being charged with offences simply because they had been a Minister she would have no choice but to do something about closing such a loophole once informed of its existence.

    Please tell me where this obligation is to be found. murray foote’s colouring book will not be accepted as evidence.

    Once accusations of a grave nature are made the CPS would have to bring it to court if ten people were making the accusations.

    What was the grave nature?

    I have certainly had sexual relations which I doubted the value of in hindsight, but I never thought about contacting a procurator fiscal.
    The people involved were all grown ups.

    We still don’t know how the ten got together who organised that , how they did it and why they brought the ten together who discussed it where and when.

    I think every one ‘in the know’ is quite aware. Dummies like me are only allowed to guess.

    NS has done nothing more than allow the loophole to be changed quite rightly so.

    You will have to justify that extremely strongly.
    The bag of bones we call the civil service and the justice system could not.

    AS being charged because of accusations by ten people rightly went to court how could anyone expect a case with ten accusers not to go to court.

    That’s what happened, try and remember the verdict.

    The evidence turned out to be flimsy , a lot of here say a fair amount proven to be incorrect .

    Flimsy=an enormous amount of investigation excavating nothing.


    proven to be incorrect

    When does ‘proven to be incorrect’ become lying on oath?

    When found not guilty you are in the eyes of the law not guilty.

    That is gracious of you.

    There is nothing in this transcript that changes that…NOTHING.

    There is nothing in this transcript that shows Nicola Sturgeon doing anything illegal or anything underhand once the case was in front of the CPS she had to follow the route expected and required of a First Minister , no old pals act allowed but that doesn’t mean she acted in a way that could be construed as one of trying to condemn AS she was leaving the judgement to the court and quite right too.

    Our british broadcating system are doing free online courses, hopefully it will include reading comprehension.
    Knock yourself out with this new way of learning!

  7. diabloandco says:

    Those claiming that Alex Salmond confessed in court to having behaved inappropriately in the sense he said ‘he could have been a better man’ irritate me beyond measure . Many men and women could be ‘better’ – not many adults have absolutely no past blushes.

    I find myself getting sadder and sadder about the whole direction of travel for Scotland. Once upon a time there was discussion , exchange of ideas and debate.
    I believe we need all our bloggers for independence , different in belief and methodology though they may be , and there is no reason for the petty spite that is emerging below the line – leave that to the MSM and their so called journalists to entertain the unthinking.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s