Alex Salmond Inquiry: SNP members blast 'overt politicisation and lamentable disregard for complainers' by opposition MSPs
SNP members of the Alex Salmond inquiry have criticised the conduct of opposition MSPs and said leaks from the committee were part of a wider “pursuit of naked party politics”, labelling them “misdirection, speculation and smears”.
Alasdair Allan, Maureen Watt and Stuart McMillan released a statement on Tuesday following the publication of the Holyrood inquiry into the Scottish Government’s botched handling of harassment complaints against Mr Salmond.
In the statement, they label alleged behaviour from some committee members as “unfortunate” and suggested it could have a “chilling and counterproductive effect” on protecting the best interests of women.
The three MSPs state: "We fear conduct over several months of some members – their skewed focus, overt politicisation and lamentable disregard for complainers – will dissuade women from coming forward in the future. That is a matter of the deepest regret.”
The statement continues, criticising the leak of evidence from the two complainers to the committee, given in private on Monday last week, but leaked to the Sunday Times.
The MSPs state the leak was used to “distort and misrepresent that evidence for political ends” and said it was “unworthy of this Parliament and a discredit to those responsible”.
They said: “However, their trust in this committee – and by extension our Parliament – was betrayed by a committee member who decided not only to leak the women’s evidence against their directly expressed wishes, but to distort and misrepresent that evidence for political ends. That betrayal of trust should be a matter of grave concern for all who cherish decency and integrity.
“Sadly, it was just the latest, if perhaps the most egregious, in a litany of leaks from what should have been a confidential process.
"For some committee members, the requisite degree of impartial objectivity was deserted in pursuit of naked party politics. Their leaks, misdirection, speculation and smears by press release or social media created a media circus, which added immeasurably to the women’s ordeal.”
Highlighting evidence from the women involved who said it was “extremely difficult” for them to see the use of evidence to go beyond the point of the remit, the SNP MSPs labelled the move a “betrayal” and a “deliberate attempt to undermine Scotland’s Parliament”.
They said: “Some members chose to use the committee as a vehicle to diverge down increasingly bizarre and obscure rabbit holes, prompted by conspiracy theories emanating from outside Parliament that, without exception, immediately fell apart under scrutiny.
"This culminated in the spectacle of the Scottish Parliament using its powers under section 23 of the Scotland Act for the first time, not to order the release of important documents or the appearance of a crucial committee witnesses, but instead for the recovery of communications between private individuals which proved to be simple messages between women supporting each other through an ordeal not of their making.
"And then last week, we had the final unedifying outcome of amendments being brought forward and voted to be included as final conclusions based on prejudiced opinion with no evidential basis in fact.
"This committee was trusted with the task of helping those who come forward with complaints of workplace abuse, but members of this committee abused that trust.”
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