Alex Salmond: Is the ex First Minister as wealthy as critics say?

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It’s unlikely that a politician with the instincts of Alex Salmond would have failed to anticipate the uproar caused by his announcement he was launching a crowdfunder to support a legal challenge relating to allegations of sexual misconduct levelled at him.

The former First Minister has smashed his original £50,000 target after hundreds of donations poured in, and at the time of writing is knocking on the door of hitting £100,000.

Alex Salmond. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Alex Salmond. Picture: Ian Rutherford

It comes as Mr Salmond has officially lodged papers beginning a judicial review against the Scottish Government over their handling of two complaints of sexual harassment made in January this year.

READ MORE: What we know so far about Alex Salmond allegations

They relate to alleged misbehaviour from when Mr Salmond was First Minister in 2013. Allegations he strongly refutes.

His successor, Nicola Sturgeon, has not commented on the fundraiser, but Rhoda Grant MSP, the women’s spokesperson for Scottish Labour, said: “Alex Salmond is abusing his power, and dragging Scotland into the gutter.”

Questions have been asked over whether someone in his position needs to rely on the public for his legal funds.

With that in mind, we look at the former SNP leader’s income, salary, and wealth.

Salary

There aren’t many people who wouldn’t feel the pinch after the sudden loss of a job that commands a salary of around £77,000. As many of Mr Salmond’s defenders have pointed out, he has lost a significant annual amount from his shock election defeat last year.

Yet, calculations made by The Times suggested the former First Minister has been paid around £2.2million as an MP and MSP since the 1980s.

Which leaves only his broadcasting and presenting work as his only source of income, bar his pensions and other benefits (more on that later).

Mr Salmond had a highly successful run at the Fringe in Edinburgh last year with his ‘Alex Salmond Unleashed’ show following his defeat.

Tickets were priced at £22.50, with a £17.50 concession price, some of the most expensive of last years Fringe.

READ MORE: Alex Salmond resigns from the SNP amid allegations

All 17 shows sold out, meaning the former First Minister played to around 6,000 people. If they paid an average of £20 each, that means total revenue of £120,000 for the show.

That doesn’t take into account overheads, such as renting the venue and paying his fellow performers, but even if only half of that figure is profit, Mr Salmond still made far more than your average Fringe performer, many of whom lose money.

Mr Salmond’s salary for his weekly show on controversial broadcaster Russia Today is not disclosed, although he was paid £15,000 for 6 months work on radio station LBC for a weekly phone-in while still an MP.

Benefits

For an erstwhile politician with a length of service like Mr Salmond’s, there are more routes of income through public service.

There have been several controversies about his earnings throughout his career, most recently in 2014.

Then-candidate Mr Salmond refused to hand back a ‘golden goodbye’ resettlement grant that he received in 2010 when leaving Westminster, the parliament he returned to in 2015.

The grant was worth around £65,000.

As long as he was an elected politician, Mr Salmond donated his pension relating to his spell as First Minister to a charity set up in his mother’s name.

It is believed that now he is no longer an MP or an MSP, Mr Salmond isn’t donating the sum of around £40,000 he receives annually.

While the individual MP/MSP pension pots aren’t disclosed, Mr Salmond is believed to be entitled to at least £40,000 annually from his pensions in those jobs.

An £8,500 state pension will kick in from December 2020.

Charitable giving

Alex Salmond’s defenders, of whom several have gone on record, point to his long record of charitable giving.

One was quoted in saying the former First Minister was ‘not a wealthy man’.

The Mary Salmond trust, named in honour of Mr Salmond’s late mother, is thought to have distributed more than £160,000 to good cause among youth and community groups in the North-East of Scotland.

When he held ‘dual mandates’ as both an MP and an MSP, as he did on two separate occasions, he gave one of the salaries he was entitled to towards the charitable trust.

During his Fringe show, Mr Salmond auctioned off lunches with himself and his guests, and other prizes, raising an estimated £30,000.

While some of his income is hard to quantify, one thing is certain – the fundraiser, and the court case that Mr Salmond is using it for, while remain controversial as long as they last.