Former first minister Alex Salmond has launched a fresh legal challenge against the Scottish Government, seeking ‘significant’ damages.
The legal bid in the Court of Session alleges misfeasance – the intentional abuse of power – by Scottish civil servants.
The case names former first minister Nicola Sturgeon among other officials.
Promising a “day of reckoning” for the government, Mr Salmond said his case would end the “evasion of responsibility”.
The former Gordon MP was cleared of criminal sexual assault allegations after a high profile trial in 2020.
It came after a series of complaints were made by those who had worked with him during his time in office.
First investigated by an internal Scottish Government probe, in 2019 Mr Salmond took legal action against the government over its botched handling of the case.
He was awarded over £500,000 in costs after the government conceded that it had acted unlawfully during the investigation, led by then permanent secretary Lesley Evans.
A subsequent Holyrood committee set up to examine the scandal found the government’s investigation had been “seriously flawed”.
The former first minister, who now leads the Alba Party, told the MSPs investigating the issue that he had been the victim of a plot orchestrated by people close to Nicola Sturgeon.
He also accused his successor of breaching the ministerial code by making misleading statements to parliament about the probe.
Ms Sturgeon was cleared of any breach in a subsequent independent review.
Salmond: Case will end ‘evasion of responsibility’
The Herald reported that Mr Salmond is seeking around £3 million in damages and lost earnings.
Confirming the new case, Mr Salmond said he would continue to “do his talking” about the issue in court.
He said: “Despite Lord Pentland’s findings in the Court of Session that the behaviour of the former permanent secretary and her officials was ‘unlawful’, ‘unfair’ and ‘tainted by apparent bias’, despite the ongoing police and crown office enquiries into the criminal leaks and potential perjury at the criminal trial, despite the astonishing revelations of misfeasance contained in the eventual publication of the government’s own legal advice, and despite the specific findings of the parliamentary inquiry into the conduct of the former permanent secretary and the former first minister, not one single person has been held accountable.
“With this court action that evasion of responsibility ends.”
“We have agreed to the sisting (pause) of proceedings to allow the criminal investigations into leaking and perjury to be completed.
“However, the calling of the action signals that the day of reckoning for the Scottish Government’s record of misfeasance on this grand scale will inevitably come.”
Mr Salmond’s lawyer, Gordon Dangerfield, said the case would allege that government officials had acted in bad faith and with the intention of injuring his client.
Public officials ‘decided Alex Salmond was guilty regardless of facts’
He added: “We aver that public officials decided at an early stage that Mr Salmond was to be found guilty of allegations against him, regardless of the actual facts.”
He continued: “Many documents which are relevant to these averments continue to be concealed by the Scottish Government despite repeated requests for disclosure of them over the course of the last year since this action was first raised.
“We aver that this refusal to disclose is a continuation of the misfeasance which began more than five years ago.
“A major aim of Mr Salmond in bringing this action is to obtain disclosure of this vital evidence and to blow apart the Scottish Government cover-up which has gone on now for far too long.”
Speaking at a press conference at the British-Irish Council in Dublin on Friday, Humza Yousaf initially refused to be drawn on the case, but added: “Unsurprisingly to anyone listening or watching, the Scottish Government will defend its position robustly, but I’ll say no more because that’s a live case.”