Salmond complaints inquiry to sit for first time since trial

The inquiry was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic and has not met since Alex Salmond was acquitted at the High Court in March.

Former Scottish National Party leader and former First Minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond leaves the High Court in Edinburgh on March 23, 2020, after being acquitted of attempted rape and a string of sexual assaults, including one of intent to rape.
Former Scottish National Party leader and former First Minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond leaves the High Court in Edinburgh on March 23, 2020, after being acquitted of attempted rape and a string of sexual assaults, including one of intent to rape.

The inquiry into the way the Scottish Government responded to complaints about Alex Salmond will meet for the first time since the former First Minister was acquitted at a high-profile trial in March.

Mr Salmond was cleared of all charges including attempted rape and sexual assault following a trial at the High Court in Edinburgh.

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The Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints was set up in 2019 after the Court of Session ruled that an internal investigation into allegations against the former First Minister had been unlawful, leading to a pay out of £500,000 in expenses.

Nicola Sturgeon has said she is prepared to give evidence to the inquiry

It will hear evidence and report on the actions of Nicola Sturgeon, civil servants and special advisers in relation to how they dealt with the complaints.

Nine MSPs, four from the SNP, two Tories and one from each of Labour, the Greens and the Lib Dems, have been chosen to sit on the committee which will be chaired by deputy presiding officer Linda Fabiani.

Officially, their remit will be to “consider and report on the actions of the First Minister, Scottish Government officials and special advisers in dealing with complaints about Alex Salmond, former First Minister, considered under the Scottish Government’s ‘Handling of harassment complaints involving current or former ministers’ procedure and actions in relation to the Scottish Ministerial Code.”

Both the former and current First Minister are expected to give evidence at the inquiry, potentially reigniting the fierce row that has engulfed the SNP around the handling of the complaints and the Police Scotland investigation which followed.

The focus of the committee will be how the complaints procedure at Holyrood was drawn up, whether it was applied fairly and how it was applied in general, and the fallout from the judicial review case.

The committee will meet for the first time since Mr Salmond’s acquittal later today.

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