Alex Salmond inquiry: Complainer confirms she asked for help from Nicola Sturgeon's chief of staff

An allegation that Nicola Sturgeon’s chief of staff had “interfered” in the Scottish Government’s investigation into claims of sexual misconduct by Alex Salmond has been branded “fundamentally untrue”.

Conservative MP David Davis used parliamentary privilege to criticise the Scottish Government's handling of allegations against Alex Salmond. Picture: Getty
Conservative MP David Davis used parliamentary privilege to criticise the Scottish Government's handling of allegations against Alex Salmond. Picture: Getty

Tory MP David Davis claimed on Tuesday in Westminster – using parliamentary privilege – that Liz Lloyd, the First Minister’s closest aide, had known about the allegations against Mr Salmond in February 2018, rather than in the April, which she swore to on oath when giving evidence to the Holyrood inquiry.

MSPs are investigating the Scottish Government’s handling of the allegations against Mr Salmond, which led to the former first minister winning a judicial review of the process and more than £500,000, and have taken evidence from Ms Lloyd.

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Mr Davis’s dramatic intervention into the controversy engulfing the SNP saw him claim that a series of text messages existed between civil servants Judith McKinnon, who was the investigating officer into the two complaints against Mr Salmond, and her boss Barbara Allison, which suggested “the First Minister’s chief of staff is interfering in the complaints process against Alex Salmond”.

He added: “The investigating officer complains, I quote, ‘Liz interference v bad’. I assume that means very bad.

“If true, this suggests the chief of staff had knowledge of the Salmond case in February, not in April, as she has claimed on oath. The First Minister also tied herself to that April date in both parliamentary and legal statements.

"She was, of course, aware earlier than that. The question is just how aware and how much earlier?”

However, a statement released by Rape Crisis Scotland has revealed that Ms Lloyd was approached by a civil servant looking for advice about whether she should get involved with the government's investigation into Mr Salmond.

The statement, on behalf of the woman concerned, says she has spoken out after becoming aware of Mr Davis’s Commons statement and the allegation of “interference” on the part of Ms Lloyd is “fundamentally untrue” and “being deliberately misrepresented”.

She says she was approached in January 2018 by Scottish Government human resources regarding their Salmond investigation as she had been named “as someone who experienced such behaviour", but had decided she did not want to “share with them my own personal experiences”.

Concerned about obstructing the investigation, however, she raised the matter with a “trusted senior person in government, Liz Lloyd” for advice.

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"I did not tell Liz who the complaint was from, who it was about or the nature of the complaint,” she says.

“I said I had been asked if I wanted to make a complaint and made it clear to her I did not want to, but I was concerned that if I didn’t I may be impeding an investigation.

“She offered to convey my concerns and what I wanted to happen to an appropriate senior civil servant … I agreed to this course of action. This was not ‘interfering’, but acting in line with my wishes.”

The woman says she then met with the senior civil servant and declined to take part in the investigation after receiving assurances it would not stop it going ahead.

Earlier Ms Sturgeon said she would not be “side-tracked” from discussing the Covid pandemic by “the latest instalment of Alex Salmond’s conspiracy theory”.

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