Salmond will not be suspended
SNP facing calls over ‘secret harassment meetings’
Alex Salmond: denies allegations against him
Update: Labour has today demanded the Scottish government reveal details of alleged meetings between First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, and her predecessor Alex Salmond during an investigation into allegations made against him.
In a statement, the Scottish Labour Party said it understands the pair met on several occasions to discuss the case.
It said the government should publish the times, dates and any minutes of these meetings, and provide clarification on whether Mr Salmond asked the First Minister to intervene in the investigation in any way.
Ms Sturgeon later resisted Labour calls for Mr Salmond to be suspended from the SNP. She said: “In this case, unlike in some previous cases, the investigation into complaints about Alex Salmond has not been conducted by the SNP and no complaints have been received by the party.
“Also, for legal reasons, the limited information I have about the Scottish Government investigation cannot at this stage be shared with the party – and rightly it is the party, not me as leader, that has the power to suspend membership.
“In summary, the party has no legal basis at this time to suspend Alex Salmond’s membership. Of course, should that situation change, the matter will be reconsidered, as it would be for any member. The party’s rules apply to all members and no one is above them.”
It emerged this weekend that a Scottish government staff member made claims about an incident in December 2013 involving the former First Minister at his official residence, Bute House.
The Daily Record claims to have seen the wording of a detailed complaint from a woman who was said to have told investigators that it took repeated requests to stop the advances of Mr Salmond, who had been drinking.
She claims there were multiple instances of harassment and conduct of an unwanted sexual nature during the politician’s time in office.
He has strenuously denied any harassment or criminality.
The Daily Record said the allegations, and those of a second complainer have been passed to the police. A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: “We are carrying out an assessment of information which we have received and enquiries are at an early stage.”
Mr Salmond said last week he is taking the Scottish government to court to contest the complaints process activated against him.
A Scottish government spokesman said a process been under way within the Scottish government for eight months and has been “entirely confidential throughout that period”.
Leslie Evans, permanent secretary at the Scottish government, said two complaints were raised in January against Mr Salmond and he was notified in March about an investigation.
Ms Sturgeon defended Ms Evans who has been criticised for the process which was carried out. Ms Sturgeon’s own former special adviser Noel Dolan has said Ms Evans should quit if the Government loses the court case.
Ms Sturgeon on Friday admitted the situation was “difficult for me to come to terms with” given her close and long relationship with Mr Salmond, but said claims had to be investigated. She said she was first informed of the investigation by Mr Salmond himself in April.
However, opposition parties were demanding the SNP provided more answers about what it knew and what action it was taking.
Scottish Conservative equalities spokeswoman Annie Wells, said: “It’s vital first to stress that we are dealing with allegations which are denied by Mr Salmond.
“But, if accurate, the fresh details set out in the media this morning are incredibly serious and go beyond harassment and into the realms of assault.
“They show that it is right that the matter has been passed to the police.
“We must respect the women who complained and allow due and fair process to continue so that the facts can be brought out.
“However, these revelations do raise questions about the way this matter was treated when it is alleged to have taken place, and these also need to be answered.
“Was a complaint made to the Scottish Government at the time? Was any SNP Minister or official made aware of it? Was it only in January of this year that anyone within the Scottish Government or the SNP was informed of this alleged incident?
“We need to see full transparency from the SNP and the Scottish Government.”
Scottish Labour Parliamentary Business Manager, Rhoda Grant, earlier said:“Following.. further revelations and the fact that Alex Salmond has been reported to the police, the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, must suspend him from the SNP immediately.
“Not to do so will send the wrong message to members in her Party and the people of Scotland.
“People who experience harassment should be able to come forward in the knowledge there is a safe environment to do so and that the workplace they are in treats their complaint robustly.
“The SNP must do all it can to give complainants the support they need whoever the alleged perpetrator is and make clear that there is safe space for any other survivors to come forward.
“The First Minister has been too slow to act on these shocking allegations. Nicola Sturgeon must take action and she must do it now.”
An internal review was launched last year into the Scottish government’s procedures for handling complaints in the workplace in light of wider concerns about harassment at Westminster and Holyrood.