‘Compelling evidence’ Alex Salmond was victim of political set-up, says ex-MP

A former depute leader of the SNP has said there is “compelling evidence” that Alex Salmond was the victim of a political set-up.

Alex Salmond bumps elbows with Gordon Jackson QC as he departs the High Court in Edinburgh on March 23. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell / Getty
Alex Salmond bumps elbows with Gordon Jackson QC as he departs the High Court in Edinburgh on March 23. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell / Getty

Jim Sillars welcomed the jury’s decision to clear the former First Minister of all charges at the High Court in Edinburgh yesterday, but warned a number of senior Nationalists would now be “quaking in their shoes” at the verdict.

Mr Sillars served under Mr Salmond in the early 1990s before a fall-out ended their friendship.

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But the former MP for Govan revealed that he approached his old political ally in the wake of the ex-SNP leader being charged over 13 alleged sexual assaults.

“Whatever criticism I had made of his leadership, when he was charged with serious sexual offences from 2008 to 2014, I did not believe he was guilty, and I phoned to tell him that,” Sillars wrote in the Scottish Sun.

“I went further and asked to meet him, and did so.

“He shared with me the evidence he had showing he was being deliberately set up; a clear political conspiracy at the highest levels of the party to bring him down, and stop him re-entering the political front-line. It was compelling evidence.

“It was the dirtiest blow I have ever witnessed in 60 years of political life, and delivered to a man who, for all my criticism, had done more for independence than any other person alive or dead.

He deserved better. I am delighted he was cleared.

“One of the reasons I believed him was that my late wife, Margo MacDonald, would have got wind of the kind of behaviour he was accused of. Margo knew everything that was going on in the Parliament.

“Never once was there a hint of Alex being sexually abusive to women.”

The accusations against Mr Salmond spanned a period between June 2008 and November 2014 and ranged from him stroking a civil servant’s hair to trying to rape a former Scottish Government official in Bute House.

Former justice secretary Kenny MacAskill accused some party members of “instigating” the case against Mr Salmond and said the full extent of this would come to light.

Mr Sillars added the fall-out from the trial would also impact the wider independence movement.

“When all is finally exposed, and the political casualties mount, there will be a setback,” he said.

“But the cause of independence is not a recent one.

“It has deep roots in history, of struggle to be heard, to be taken seriously. Moments of hope often dashed; but the cause has always been there: to inspire and impel our nation to strive again and again for the pride and self-respect that only comes, from regaining our sovereignty. Let me tell the Unionists, we shall be back.”

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