Alex Salmond inquiry: 'Bullying and intimidation' of complainers must stop, demands SNP official

A senior SNP official whose text messages have been central to claims of a party conspiracy against Alex Salmond has said it would be “nothing short of astonishing” if the Alex Salmond inquiry continued to seek access to more messages between party officials.

The Salmond Inquiry has seen leaks from both the Sturgeon and Salmond camps

Sue Ruddick, the SNP’s chief operating officer, said “bullying and intimidation of complainers” must stop and criticised the harassment complaints committee.

Messages sent between SNP officials are viewed as potential evidence of a conspiracy within the party against Mr Salmond.

Sign up to our Politics newsletter

Sign up to our Politics newsletter

The party and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon have consistently denied allegations of conspiracy.

Read More

Read More
Alex Salmond inquiry: SNP chief executive 'absolutely refutes' perjury accusatio...

Commenting during SNP chief executive Peter Murrell’s evidence session in front of the harassment complaints committee on Monday morning, Ms Ruddick said the messages between her and Mr Murrell were “in no way relevant to this committee’s remit”.

In a statement, she said: “It is becoming increasingly clear that the committee is determined to ignore complainers privacy rights and refer to, act upon and make public – whether in writing or through oral reference in a public session – private, confidential communications, despite having no lawful power to do so.

“Private communications between myself and Mr Murrell are in no way relevant to this committee’s remit.”

The committee had last week decided that messages from Ms Ruddick were not “within remit”, but it was understood last week the committee was “actively looking” at ways to gain access to further messages.

Ms Ruddick said: “The messages the committee saw last week confirm I reported to Police Scotland an act of physical aggression by Mr Salmond.

“The messages confirmed there was no conspiracy. Having read those messages, the committee stated its desire to avoid further distress to complainers, yet just a few days later, considers it proportionate to act on my private communications, against my express wishes, when they have been unlawfully obtained and produced.

“Last week it appeared, briefly, that the complainers’ rights had finally been taken into account, yet within minutes press reporting suggested this conclusion was wholly unfounded.

"It would be nothing short of astonishing if, as media reports suggest, the committee intends to discuss or seek production of further messages, despite the clear and obvious breach of my privacy rights, notwithstanding the further distress that would involve.”

Ms Ruddick said she has faced “repeated breaches of my privacy … without any context” and complained about the lack of action.

She also criticised those leaking the texts, labelling the leaks as “an attempt by Mr Salmond … to bolster his reputation”.

Ms Ruddick said: “Publication and discussion of private messages relating to a police complaint are outwith the committee’s remit, and offering support to a friend and complainer is not a conspiracy.

"It is, however, a complete invasion of my privacy and has already led to further distress to the other women involved in complaints against Mr Salmond, and those we turned to for support. In my case, this included Peter Murrell.

"The bullying and intimidation of complainers through use of their private and personal communications must end now.

"It is incredibly disappointing that complainers personal experiences of Mr Salmond are being ignored.”

Anne Harvey, principal assistant to the Chief Whip for the SNP Westminster Group, rejected Ms Ruddick’s statement, saying she had been “saddened” by its contents.

In her own statement, Ms Harvey said she knew any claim about an act of physical aggression by Mr Salmond was wrong as she was “the only witness to this supposed event”.

She said: “There has been discussion again today about whether there was a conspiracy against Mr Salmond. I have believed for some time that there was what I described in writing on August 18, 2018 as a ‘witch-hunt’ against him after receiving what I considered to be an improper request from SNP HQ seeking to damage Mr Salmond.

“I have offered to provide a detailed affidavit along with the contents of this statement to Mr Salmond’s lawyers.”

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.