Alex Salmond has said there is a failure of leadership in Scotland as he attacked Nicola Sturgeon and claimed there has been a “calculated and deliberate suppression of key evidence” to a Scottish parliamentary committee.
In his opening statement to a parliamentary inquiry into the Scottish government’s unlawful investigation of sexual harassment claims made against him, Scotland’s former first minister accused his successor Ms Sturgeon of using a Covid press conference to “effectively question the result of a jury”.
He is testifying on the botched government investigation which was found to be “tainted by apparent bias” after it emerged the investigating officer had prior contact with two of the women who made complaints.
He will face questions about his claims that current first minister Ms Sturgeon misled parliament and breached the ministerial code.
Mr Salmond told MSPs –members of the Scottish parliament – that the leadership of Scotland had failed, and the Scottish government’s actions were no longer true to the principals of openness, accountability and transparency.
“I watched in astonishment on Wednesday when the first ninister of Scotland – the first minister of Scotland– used a Covid press conference to effectively question the results of a jury.”
He said the failures of leadership surrounding the investigation into his conduct were “many and obvious”.
“The government acted illegally but somehow nobody is to blame,” he added. “Scotland hasn’t failed, its leadership has failed. The importance of this inquiry is for each and every one of us to help put this right.”
The former first minister told the committee: “This inquiry is not about me, I have already established the illegality of the actions of the Scottish government in the court of session, and I have been acquitted of all criminal charges by a jury in the highest court in the land.
“These are both the highest courts in the land, the highest criminal court and the highest civil court. The remit of this inquiry is about the actions of others, whose investigation into the conduct of ministers, the permanent secretary, civil servants and special advisers.
“It also requires to shine a light on the activities of the Crown Office.”
He went on to claim that the committee in its inquiry haf been “systematically deprived of the evidence it has legitimately sought”.
Mr Salmond rejected calls from Ms Sturgeon that he should provide evidence to back up his claims of a conspiracy.
He stressed it was the Scottish government that had been “found to have acted unlawfully, unfairly and tainted by apparent bias” by the Court of Session.
He said: “I note that the first minister asserts I have to prove a case, I don’t. That has already been done. There have been two court cases, two judges, one jury.
“In this inquiry it is the Scottish government, a government which has already admitted to behaving unlawfully, who are under examination.”
He said the previous two years and six months – during his investigation and criminal trial – had been a “nightmare”, but “we can’t turn that page, nor move on, until the decision-making which is undermining the system of government in Scotland is addressed”.
Mr Salmond, who was acquitted of 13 charges of sexual assault in the criminal trial, was awarded a £512,250 payout after he successfully challenged the lawfulness of the Government investigation into harassment claims made against him.
Ms Sturgeon has previously insisted there is “not a shred of evidence” that there was a conspiracy against Mr Salmond and she has denied lying to parliament. The current first minister is scheduled to appear before the committee to give evidence next Wednesday. – PA