Alex Salmond inquiry: Senior civil servant will not resign, says Scottish Government

The Scottish Government has confirmed Permanent Secretary Leslie Evans will not be asked to resign despite damning findings against the country’s most senior civil servant over the Alex Salmond affair.

MSPs said Ms Evans should be held responsible for the “devastating” collapse of the government’s legal case against Mr Salmond.

The cross-party committee examining the affair unanimously agreed that an “individual failing” by Ms Evans played an instrumental part in the debacle.

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The finding will increase pressure on her to resign – something Mr Salmond called for when he won the judicial review case more than two years ago.

Former first minister Alex Salmond
Former first minister Alex Salmond

But when asked on Tuesday if Ms Evans would resign, a Scottish Government spokesman said: “No. The civil service will reflect carefully on all the reports published in recent days.

"Lessons will be learned. The First Minister retains her confidence in the Permanent Secretary.”

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Shambolic Alex Salmond Inquiry shows need for overhaul of Holyrood committees – ...

Mr Salmond has always denied claims made by two women.

Leslie Evans, Permanent Secretary to the Scottish Government, arrives to give evidence to a Scottish Parliament committee at Holyrood in Edinburgh. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

The Holyrood committee published its 192-page report on Tuesday, but several of its key findings about Nicola Sturgeon’s conduct had been leaked.

These included its conclusion the First Minister misled Parliament with an “inaccurate” claim that she never told Mr Salmond she would intervene in the government investigation into claims of sexual harassment against him in 2018.

It also said it found it “hard to believe” she did not know of concerns about his behaviour before November 2017, when she claimed she was first alerted. And it said it was “concerned” it took months for her to tell civil servants she had met Mr Salmond to discuss the investigation, describing her interactions with him as “inappropriate”.

Ms Sturgeon’s spokesman dismissed criticisms of her as “baseless assertion, supposition and smear”, while a separate investigation cleared her of breaking the ministerial code.

However, the committee criticised Ms Evans for her part in the affair, which cost taxpayers more than £500,000 after a judge ruled the investigation into Mr Salmond had been “unlawful” and “tainted by apparent bias”.

The MSPs said the concession of the review was “unacceptable”.

It said the errors were a failure to identify crucial documents promptly, and that the person investigating the women’s claims had already had contact with them.