Alex Salmond has branded the Scottish Government’s handling of allegations against him a “disgrace” that has cost taxpayers more than £750,000.
The former first minister condemned the probe carried out by Holyrood officials in a newly published submission to the committee of MSPs investigating the process.
He accused the government of displaying a “lack of candour and a systematic
failure to disclose” that had been “deliberate and consistent” since March 2018.
The behaviour of the government was, in my view, a disgrace. But actions have consequences.”
Mr Salmond’s written evidence to the committee has been published ahead of his long-awaited appearance in front of the committee, which is expected next week.
The Holyrood inquiry into the Scottish Government’s handling of claims of harassment made against him was established in the wake of his successful civil action.
Mr Salmond took the Scottish Government to a judicial review, which found that the Scottish Government’s internal process for dealing with the complaints was tainted with apparent bias.
The Scottish Government’s defeat resulted in it having to pay out more than £500,000 in taxpayers’ cash for the former first minister’s legal costs.
At a separate criminal trial, Mr Salmond was cleared of all charges last year.
‘Unfair and unlawful process’
In his newly published submission on the government probe, the former SNP leader said: “At an early stage it was clear to me and to my legal advisers that the process was defective in a number of ways and that its application was suspect.
“In particular, I had never even heard of such a procedure applying to former ministers and there was no parliamentary or public record of it ever being implemented.”
Mr Salmond said his legal team advised him strongly against rebutting specific allegations because in their view the government had pursued an “unfair and unlawful process”.
On the role of Permanent Secretary Leslie Evans, the former first minister said he is now aware from documents recently obtained by the committee that she “met one complainer and phoned the other in mid process before contacting me on March 7 2018”.
He added: “I was astonished when I discovered this.
“There is nothing in the procedure which allows for this and I would certainly have wanted to argue this in our judicial review petition as behaviour incompatible with the role of an impartial decision maker and further evidence of bias against me.
“The failure to disclose this meeting either in the civil or criminal case despite court orders is a serious matter which I intend to take forward with the appropriate authorities.”
‘Government lack of candour’
Mr Salmond also referred to the government’s failure to hand over key evidence to the committee.
“The pattern of government lack of candour and a systematic failure to disclose has been deliberate and consistent since March 7 2018,” he said.
“It continued through the judicial review process and then my criminal trial.
“To my astonishment, it continues to date with a persistent failure to produce all relevant documents to the parliamentary inquiry which has forced two parliamentary votes and triggered an unprecedented procedure under Section 23 of the Scotland Act.”
‘Actions have consequences’
Mr Salmond said he was reluctant to take legal action, and estimated it would have cost “upwards of £750,000 of taxpayers’ money and which caused immense strain and distress to all involved”.
He concluded: “The behaviour of the government was, in my view, a disgrace.
“But actions have consequences. Accountability is at the heart of the Scottish Parliament.
“The rule of law requires that those who have acted illegally are held to account. It is now the job of this committee to resolve how that is best done.”