Answers wanted over claims Alex Salmond first probed in 2013
Nicola Sturgeon’s Scottish Government was urged to respond to the “serious revelation” that a complaint by a female member of staff was examined in 2013, five years before civil servants conducted a second investigation into her allegations of sexual misconduct.
The Daily Mail reported that Mr Salmond, who was First Minister at the time, apologised to the woman for a “misunderstanding” during the incident at Bute House.
The newspaper claimed senior sources said that the woman accepted the then First Minister’s apology and no action was taken against Mr Salmond.
Earlier this year civil servants ordered an investigation into the incident, along with another complaint by another woman. Police Scotland are also investigating the complaints.
The Scottish Government has insisted that there are “no recorded complaints about Alex Salmond” before January this year. Mr Salmond has denied sexually harassing anybody or any criminality.
The claim that the matter had been raised in 2013 when Mr Salmond’s campaign for independence was at its height has led to fresh questions from Holyrood politicians.
The claim could also be mentioned in the Judicial Review launched by Mr Salmond at the Court of Session to challenge the way the Scottish Government has handled the harassment allegations.
Scottish Labour MSP Rhoda Grant said: “This is a serious revelation. It now appears a complaint was made against Alex Salmond in 2013. If that is true, it contradicts what the public has previously been told about when issues around Mr Salmond’s conduct were first raised, and who dealt with them.
“Smoke and mirrors from the SNP government at this stage will only convince people they have something to hide. It is essential the public is now given a clear timeline of events that have lead to this point, including who knew what - and when.”
Scottish Conservative equalities spokeswoman Annie Wells said: “First and foremost, we must respect the women who complained and allow due and fair process to continue.
“The overriding issue is to respect their anonymity.”
“Within those constraints, there are fair questions over who else in the Scottish Government knew about this and whether anyone in the SNP was informed still remain, and they need to be answered.”
Mr Salmond’s spokesperson said: “We have no comment to make because our Petition for Judicial Review against the Permanent Secretary is now before the Court of Session. We expect it to be called very shortly and we intend to do our talking in court. Our objective is to establish that Scottish Government’s complaints procedure used against Alex is unlawful.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The Scottish Government received two complaints in January in relation to Alex Salmond. These could not be ignored or swept under the carpet.
“As we have said previously, we are confident our processes are legally sound and we will vigorously defend our position.
“For legal reasons the Scottish Government can make no further comment on the issues relating to Mr Salmond at this time.”