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Alex Salmond lodges complaint about government official who allegedly leaked accuser’s name

Former first minister Alex Salmond prepares to give his opening statement to the Scottish Parliament Harassment committee, which is examining the handling of harassment allegations him, at Holyrood in Edinburgh. Picture date: Friday February 26, 2021. PA Photo. See PA story POLITICS Salmond. Photo credit should read: Andy Buchanan/PA Wire
Former first minister Alex Salmond prepares to give his opening statement to the Scottish Parliament Harassment committee, which is examining the handling of harassment allegations him, at Holyrood in Edinburgh. Picture date: Friday February 26, 2021. PA Photo. See PA story POLITICS Salmond. Photo credit should read: Andy Buchanan/PA Wire

Former First Minister Alex Salmond has made a formal complaint about the conduct of a government official who is alleged to have disclosed the name of one of the complainers against him.

In a dramatic day at the Scottish Parliament, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was quizzed on claims that a government official had leaked the name of the complainant to Geoff Aberdein, who had previously been Mr Salmond’s chief of staff.

Ms Sturgeon, in giving evidence to a Holyrood committee investigating the government’s handling of harassment allegations against Mr Salmond, said she did not accept that had happened.

Labour’s Jackie Baillie pressed the first minister on the issue, saying in any other position doing this would be a “sackable offence” as she demanded to know if Ms Sturgeon or the Permanent Secretary had authorised this.

But the first minister said: “I am not accepting that that happened, therefore I am clearly not accepting that was authorised.”

It comes as a spokesman for Mr Salmond revealed on Wednesday, while Ms Sturgeon’s evidence session was in full flow, that the former first minister had lodged a formal complaint about the conduct of the government official alleged to have disclosed the name of the complainer.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon giving evidence to the Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints, at Holyrood in Edinburgh, examining the handling of harassment allegations against former first minister Alex Salmond.

Ms Sturgeon did however accept the matter was a “matter of contention”.

The first minister added: “Certainly in relation to one of the complainants Alex Salmond was pretty clear he had found out through investigations of Scottish Government social media accounts he had found out who that was.

“And in relation to the other one, and this is the bit I am perhaps speculating on, it must have been the case when he got that letter, because he knew about the incident because he had apologised to the person.

“So my assumption would be that he would have known that without anybody having to tell him. And I know from what he told me he found out the identity of the other one through his own investigations.”

 

Denial of a ‘plot’ against Mr Salmond

The first minister insisted she had seen “nothing that comes within a million miles” of backing up claims that Mr Salmond was the victim of a conspiracy within the SNP.

Speaking about messages sent by various people within the party, she said they showed “people supporting each other, people talking to each other”.

She added: “Some of what has been misrepresented as trying to find or concoct evidence is actually people co-operating with the police at their request.

“I have seen nothing that comes within a million miles of backing up that central assertion Alex was making, that there was some kind of co-ordinated attempt, for whatever motive, and the motive seems to be on shifting sands as well, I have seen nothing that comes within a million miles of demonstrating that.”

A spokesman for Alex Salmond said: “Mr Salmond has lodged a formal complaint with the Permanent Secretary to the Scottish Government under the civil service code, on the conduct of the official who is alleged to have breached civil service rules, by disclosing the name of a complainant in the Scottish Government process.”

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