THE Scottish Government’s handling of sexual misconduct allegations against former first minister Alex Salmond was unlawful, Scotland’s highest civil court has ruled.
At a hearing in the Court of Session in Edinburgh, Judge Lord Pentland said the decisions were “unlawful in respect that they were procedurally unfair and that they were tainted with apparent bias”.
He spoke out after the court heard that the person who investigated the complaints of sexual misconduct – which are strongly denied by Mr Salmond – had involvement with the complainers prior to being appointed investigating officer.
Scotland’s most senior civil servant, Permanent Secretary Leslie Evans, said an internal review would be carried out by the Scottish Government.
She said: “The single procedural flaw which led to this decision is deeply regrettable. In particular, I regret the distress it will cause to the two women who raised the complaints.”
Ms Evans stated: “The Scottish Government has acted in good faith at all times and will continue to do so. It was right and proper that these complaints were investigated and I stand by the decision to carry out that investigation.
“It is also important to note that the procedural flaw in the investigation does not have implications, one way or the other, for the substance of the complaints or the credibility of the complainers.
“The Judicial Review was never about the substance of the complaints, but about the process that took place to investigate those complaints.”
As a result she said it was open to the Scottish Government to re-investigate the complaints, adding that “subject to the views of the complainants, it would be our intention to consider this”.
But Ms Evans said this would “only be once ongoing police inquiries have concluded”.
Summarising, Mr Salmond said: “I’m obviously glad – delighted – by the result today.
“The Government have made an abject surrender in terms of the case before we even got to the first day of hearings.
“I’m just sad it was necessary to take this action in this court of session to prove that point.”