Alex Salmond to take further legal action over 'conduct' of Scotland's top civil servant

·3-min read

Alex Salmond says he is preparing more legal action over the "conduct" of the Scottish government's top civil servant.

Permanent secretary Leslie Evans has been under mounting pressure in recent months to resign, and the pressure grew further this week following the publication of the Holyrood inquiry into the Scottish government's botched handling of harassment complaints against the former first minister.

The cross-party parliamentary inquiry concluded there was an "individual failing" by Ms Evans because she knew of prior contact between the officer investigating the complaints against Mr Salmond and those who made them.

Mr Salmond claimed Ms Evans failed to take "real responsibility".

A report this week by James Hamilton, the Scottish government's independent adviser on ministerial standards, found Nicola Sturgeon did not breach the ministerial code, but the Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints found the first minister misled parliament.

The committee inquiry was set up after a successful judicial review by Mr Salmond resulted in the Scottish government's investigation into the allegations against him being ruled unlawful and "tainted by apparent bias" in 2019.

He was awarded £512,250 after the Scottish government conceded the case a week before it was due to be heard in court because of prior contact between investigating officer Judith Mackinnon and two of the women who made complaints.

The committee of MSPs found the Scottish government's handling of the complaints was "seriously flawed" and the women who made the allegations were "badly let down".

Had the government identified all relevant documents and complied with its duty of candour "fully and promptly" early in the process, the "fatal" flaw could have been "brought to the fore", the MSPs argued.

They identified an "individual failing" on this issue by Ms Evans, because she knew of the prior contact and did not ensure the relevant information was made available sooner.

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In a statement on Wednesday, Mr Salmond said: "I have waited to see the response from those individuals to the publication of the inquiry reports.

"Unfortunately, it appears that the clear intention is to carry on regardless."

He added: "The parliamentary committee has made clear that the catastrophic failures in this matter are not just systemic, but can properly be laid at the door of individuals, and in particular, the permanent secretary [Leslie Evans]."

Referring to his previous successful court challenge against the government, Mr Salmond 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."

Mr Salmond also said he would make a police referral regarding the leak of the original complaints made against him.

The story of the complaints made against Mr Salmond was first broken by the Daily Record newspaper in August 2018.

He said: "I will accordingly now make that complaint to the police and allow them to discover who within the Scottish Government was responsible for passing these details to the Daily Record newspaper.

"I have every confidence that Police Scotland will pursue that matter with rigour."