Alex Salmond’s QC, Gordon Jackson, is being allowed to “pull the strings” in an investigation into his own conduct, says a leading charity.
She questioned the handling of the inquiry after the QC requested a fourth extension, triggering claims he was “fobbing it off until he is able to retire in peace”.
Mr Jackson, who denied the claims, is under investigation after being filmed making remarks on a train during Mr Salmond’s trial at the High Court in Edinburgh on March 23, with the video being obtained by The Sunday Times.
The lawyer, who was representing the former first minister and at that point was dean of the Faculty of Advocates, appeared to say Mr Salmond could be seen as “a sex pest but he’s not charged with that”.
He also appeared to identify two of his client’s accusers, despite their anonymity being protected.
‘This is unacceptable’
Mr Jackson quit as dean and referred the matter to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC), and it was then passed to the Faculty for investigation.
But Rape Crisis Scotland criticised the handling of the probe after Mr Jackson was granted a fourth extension, with a deadline now set for December 18.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that Jackson is being allowed to pull the strings in his own investigation, fobbing it off until he is able to retire in peace.”
Ms Brindley said: “It’s hard to see this latest move by the Faculty as anything other than a boys’ club closing ranks to protect one of their own.
“Gordon Jackson’s behaviour in the aftermath of the Salmond trial was completely inappropriate and unprofessional.
“At the time he made these comments, he was the dean of the Faculty of Advocates.
“It is unacceptable that over eight months later he has still faced absolutely no sanction for recklessly and publicly naming two complainers, whose anonymity was protected by a court order, and talking about details of the case on public transport.”
She also pointed to an “imbalance” in the process, with Mr Jackson being a “powerful public figure” and QC with a legal team representing him, while the 10 women in the case have no legal representation, with representations being made by Rape Crisis Scotland.
“The Faculty of Advocates have a huge role to play in upholding law in Scotland but they are not above it,” she said.
“Like all of us, Jackson must be held accountable for his actions.
“You’d be forgiven for thinking that Jackson is being allowed to pull the strings in his own investigation, fobbing it off until he is able to retire in peace.
“This is unacceptable and, in our view, undermines public confidence in the Faculty of Advocates.”
Jackson has ‘no motive to delay it unduly’
Mr Salmond was acquitted of attempted rape and a series of sexual assaults, including one with intent to rape, following an 11-day trial at the High Court in Edinburgh.
I have got no motive to delay it unduly. I am not retiring in the foreseeable future. So that motive, I can tell you, has absolutely got no merit.”
Speaking to the Daily Record, Mr Jackson said: “It wouldn’t help me in any way, delaying it. But those who act for me, my legal people, they have been carrying out certain investigations and will no doubt be dealing with it as timeously as they possibly can.
“I have got no motive to delay it unduly. I am not retiring in the foreseeable future. So that motive, I can tell you, has absolutely got no merit.”
Extension ‘granted in the interests of fairness’
A spokesperson for the Faculty of Advocates said: “Mr Jackson is the subject of a complaint which is being addressed under the Faculty’s Discipline Rules.
“In terms thereof, he is, as with any party, entitled to be treated fairly, and to a fair opportunity to put his defence. His lawyers sought the latest extension in order to be able to finalise his defence.
“That extension was granted in the interests of fairness. It is entirely inaccurate, and indeed unhelpful, to suggest that this is evidence of Mr Jackson ‘pulling strings’ or that it undermines confidence in the disciplinary process.
“That process will continue, to a conclusion, entirely fairly and independently, and having proper and fair regard to all of the interests that are in play. Indeed, Rape Crisis Scotland is reminded that the primary complainer in this process is not Rape Crisis Scotland but rather the current Treasurer of Faculty, who brought the complaint in the public interest.”