SNP MP calls for resignations after Salmond acquittal

By Craig Paton, PA Scotland Political Reporter

SNP MP Kenny MacAskill has called for resignations in the party in the wake of the acquittal of former leader Alex Salmond.

Mr Salmond was cleared of 13 charges, including attempted rape and sexual assault, at the High Court in Edinburgh on Monday.

Writing in The Scotsman, the former MSP – who served as justice secretary under Mr Salmond when he was first minister – said “a reckoning there must be”.

Mr MacAskill said some officials should go quietly during the coronavirus pandemic (David Cheskin/PA)

The MP also claimed the trial, in which Mr Salmond faced accusations from nine women, was a “bump in the road” that the independence movement would be able to survive.

Mr MacAskill wrote: “There do need to be resignations within the SNP. A few have acted despicably and many of us feel a breach of trust.

“To whom do these individuals work and for what purpose are they acting?

“They cannot remain and a few others now face question marks over why they are in the positions they hold, as it certainly hasn’t been on ability.”

The East Lothian MP also said the resignations should take place “quietly under the cover of coronavirus”.

Other officials, Mr MacAskill said, should be held to account after the pandemic has passed for the costs of the criminal investigation and trial of Mr Salmond, which he predicts will be a “small fraction” of the £500,000 of public funds spent on the earlier civil case.

Mr MacAskill added: “As for the independence cause, those who predict its demise can dream on.

“It’s bigger than any individual and can survive another bump in the road.”

Meanwhile, MSP Alex Neil said he would welcome the return of the former party leader to Holyrood if he decided to stand again in next year’s election.

Speaking to the Daily Record, Mr Neil described Mr Salmond as a “political heavyweight”, claiming he would improve Holyrood’s reputation.

He said: “I do not see why Alex should not be back in the party. He was acquitted of all charges. The SNP cannot ignore someone of his talents and achievements.

“I would be happy for Alex to be back at Holyrood.

“He nearly led Scotland to independence. He would absolutely enhance the reputation of the Parliament. He’s a heavyweight.”

Following his acquittal on Monday, MP Joanna Cherry said in a statement that Mr Salmond should be readmitted into the party he left after the allegations were made in 2018 “without delay”.