Former first minister Alex Salmond has threatened another legal challenge in an angry backlash at the country’s top civil servant.
Mr Salmond’s intervention follows the conclusion of multiple long-running inquiries on a scandal that has swallowed up government and parliamentary time during the Covid crisis.
In a lengthy statement issued on Wednesday afternoon, Mr Salmond said he “respects” the findings of the investigations.
But he is angry that civil service chief Leslie Evans is still in her job despite being “responsible” for the “unlawful” way the government handled complaints by two women.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has already said she retains confidence in Ms Evans.
Mr Salmond also said he will complain to the police about a “leak” that revealed the original harassment allegations in the media.
‘This cannot stand’
He said: “Now, more than two years later, and despite the most damning condemnation from a committee in the history of the modern Scottish Parliament, the Permanent Secretary still refuses to accept real responsibility.
“Instead, the waste of public resources has continued to grow as has the impact on all the people concerned.
“This cannot stand. I have therefore taken legal advice and will shortly be instructing my lawyers to bring proceedings in the Court of Session arising as a direct result of the conduct of the Permanent Secretary. I hope it is the only legal action that I am required to take.”
He does not explain what the legal action is or make clear who it will be taken against.
On the original complaints, published in the Daily Record newspaper, Mr Salmond added: “I have every confidence that Police Scotland will pursue that matter with rigour.
“I intend to make no further public comment on these issues and will leave the police and the courts to do their job.
“Instead I intend to move on, just as Scotland should now move on to debate the key election issues before us all, principally economic recovery from the pandemic and the future independence of our country.”
How did this saga begin?
Allegations about Mr Salmond’s behaviour were raised in late 2017 with government officials. He took the administration to a judicial review, which found the process was tainted with bias and unlawful. Substantial costs were awarded.
Mr Salmond was then cleared by a jury of all charges of sexual assault in a separate criminal trial.
An inquiry was set up at the Scottish Parliament to rake over the government’s handling of harassment complaints. It became mired in controversy itself and was criticised by the two women who first raised allegations.
On March 23 Holyrood’s specially convened inquiry committee concluded the process was flawed. MSPs put more pressure on Ms Sturgeon with claims she
However, an independent report by Ireland’s former public prosecutor, James Hamilton, concluded on March 22 that Ms Sturgeon had not broken the government’s code of conduct.
Another independent report, by Laura Dunlop QC, set out a range of recommendations on March 16 to improve the government’s process for handling complaints.