Complainers in Alex Salmond case to make formal complaint to Scottish Parliament over evidence leak

The women at the centre of the Alex Salmond inquiry have said they will be making a formal complaint to the Scottish Parliament after their evidence was leaked to a newspaper.

In a statement released through Rape Crisis Scotland on Sunday, the two women who made complaints of harassment against former first minister Alex Salmond said they would be making a formal complaint over the leak.

A story in The Sunday Times claims the women, giving evidence in private last Monday, painted a picture of a demeaning environment for women, with one saying it was “like the Wild West”.

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Former first minister Alex Salmond gives evidence. Picture: Andy Buchanan - Pool/Getty Images

The statement said the leak was a breach of the MSP code of conduct, as well as “a violation of the trust we placed in the committee”, as well as raising concerns about the accuracy of the leak.

“The reporting of our evidence has included inaccuracies and distortions, which appear to be intended to serve a political agenda,” the statement said.

“Complainers in this case have been subject to regular attacks and misrepresentations on social media, and have found their experiences repeatedly exploited for political purposes during the inquiry.

“For a committee members to perpetuate this is indefensible and an abuse of their position.

First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon leaves her home in Glasgow. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

“We will be making a formal complaint.”

The inquiry is expected to come to a head this week, with the Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints due to publish its final report.

Andy Wightman, who sits on the nine-strong committee as an independent, apologised in a statement on Twitter for what he described as a betrayal of the women involved in the Salmond cast.

He posted: "Been keeping away from social media this weekend, but I’m lost for words at the leak to Times and shocked that the paper used it to be honest.

"They trusted us with their testimony. I am truly sorry that they’ve been betrayed yet again.”

Mr Wightman had previously highlighted part of the code of conduct for MSPs that states leaks can “seriously undermine” the work of Parliament, after details of the committee vote that found Ms Sturgeon misled Holyrood were given to the press.

The former Green MSP is thought to have the committee’s deciding vote between the four SNP colleagues and the four representing the Scottish Conservatives, Labour and Lib Dems.

Portions of the report, where MSPs voted 5-4 to conclude that Ms Sturgeon misled the committee over a meeting with Mr Salmond, were leaked last week.

The First Minister described the leak as “partisan”, while the committee’s convener Linda Fabiani said she was “dismayed” the information had been disclosed before the final report was published.

The independent investigation into the ministerial code, being conducted by James Hamilton, is also expected to report this week and could prove more dangerous for Ms Sturgeon if she was found to have knowingly breached the code.

The First Minister referred herself for investigation after she was accused of misleading Parliament over when she knew about allegations against Mr Salmond.

The Scottish Tories have given Ms Sturgeon until Tuesday to resign, or she will face a vote of no confidence on Wednesday.