With dignity, intellect, sincerity, and the energy of a man half his 66 years of age he sailed through a six-hour session of questioning in front of nine hostile politicians on the specially convened committee established to examine the Scottish Government handling of harassment complaints against him in 2017/2018.
From start to finish his command of facts, dates, and complex legal issues was outstanding. Love him or loathe him, Alex Salmond made an unassailable case that he has indeed been a victim of a fit-up, a conspiracy, designed to destroy and imprison him:
"It has been a matter of considerable public interest whether there was 'a conspiracy'. I have never adopted the term but note that the Cambridge English Dictionary defines it as 'the activity of secretly planning with other people to do something bad or illegal'. I leave to others the question of what is, or is not, a conspiracy but am very clear in my position that the evidence supports a deliberate, prolonged, malicious and concerted effort amongst a range of individuals within the Scottish Government and the SNP to damage my reputation, even to the extent of having me imprisoned".
Unlike other commentators who treat their readers with disdain, I do not pretend for a moment that I am an independent observer in relation to the extraordinary events of the last three years which have involved the Former First Minister of Scotland (2007-2014) and leader of the SNP being subjected to a modern-day witch-hunt involving an illegal Scottish Government investigation and a criminal show trial that shamed the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) with its distinct lack of substance leading to a complete acquittal of Alex Salmond on all charges from a jury of ordinary folk over half of whom were women.
Characteristics of a Political Hatchet Job Evident from the Start
Unionist journalists by the barrel load in print and on-screen pretend to be independent observers but their constant bias against Salmond is clear for those who care to open their eyes.
I made my mind up about Salmond two years ago when a fraction of the evidence now available was in circulation because after years in the political trenches I could recognise an ambush and the modus operandi which defines such character assaults and assassinations:
"If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and sounds like a duck chances are it is a duck. Now replace duck with witch-hunt and you have the essence of the 'sexual harassment' case against Scotland's former First Minister Alex Salmond".
Alex Salmond resigned from SNP leadership in 2014 after narrowly failing to win the independence referendum. He had turned 23% support for independence into 45% in an exhilarating campaign that inspired an unprecedented level of participation from 84.6% of the eligible voting population and won majority support in Glasgow, Dundee, West Dumbarton and North Lanarkshire and, most significantly of all, from the 25-50 age bracket, and the lowest earners who saw in independence the chance of a better life.
Nicola Sturgeon was his Deputy leader and stepped into his shoes inheriting a vibrant party and independence movement which in 2015 elected an incredible 56 SNP MPs from Scotland's 59 allocations.
Independence Support Has Risen Consistently Since 2014
After the Brexit vote of 2016 it was clear one of the unionist’s many promises was false as voting NO to stay in the European Union was illusory. Scotland voted decisively to stay in the EU (62%) but the narrow Brexit majority in England (53%) was the significant vote and Scotland was dragged out of a union it voted to remain in. The EU is an undemocratic, anti-socialist, and unaccountable bureaucracy in my opinion but David Cameron, Gordon Brown, Nick Clegg et al had all told Scots in 2014 the only way to remain in the EU was vote NO to independence. They misled the Scottish people.
Support for independence began to rise to a consistently higher level from 2014 and throughout late 2016 and reached record levels in 2017 before climbing to 50% in 2018 without even a concerted campaign.
Many in the movement were demanding IndyRef2 but the SNP under Nicola Sturgeon made promises without any substance and despite record election victory margins literally, nothing happened to advance IndyRef2 regardless of mandates and Scottish Parliament votes.
Fear of Salmond Return to Politics at Heart of Conspiracy
This is the essential political context to what happened to Alex Salmond. After negotiating a deal to produce and present a TV talk show which Russia Today purchased Sturgeon feared Salmond would use the new public platform to launch a return to Scottish politics. That was not Salmond’s intention. However, Sturgeon publicly rebuked Salmond for his decision to appear on RT and within the cabal at the centre of government wheels were set in motion to ensure Salmond’s reputation was sullied and his return to public life was blocked. The contorted and cack-handed fashion that a new harassment policy was hatched between Sturgeon and her Permanent Secretary Leslie Evans is testimony to the targeting of Salmond and has been explained in detail by several observers including Solicitor Advocate and blogger Gordon Dangerfield.
Unique in the world and despite the fact a trade union-negotiated, and supported "Fairness at Work" policy already existed to investigate bullying and harassment in the civil service and covering Ministers and the Parliament the top Scottish civil servant, appointed by London but working closely with Nicola Sturgeon, Leslie Evans rushed out a new harassment policy without Cabinet discussion or Parliament debate which would include previous Ministers and Salmond was in their sights.
Complainers were actively encouraged to lodge complaints of sexual harassment against Salmond and the highly paid civil servants appointed as investigating officers and decision officers were Judith Mackinnon and Leslie Evans, respectively.
Harassment Investigation Illegal, Unfair and Biased Against Salmond
The policy was not even completed before the complaints were sought and the complainants were even asked to have input to the policy development. Alex Salmond was investigated and found guilty of sexual harassment without his knowledge or input.
The investigating officer was in touch with the complainers to assist their complaints as was the decision officer. Faced with an unfair fait accompli Salmond sought legal advice and was assured such an investigation policy was outright illegal and should be challenged in court by way of a Judicial Review, effectively convincing a judge that a decision of a public body is so manifestly unfair that it must be rescinded.
Salmond did not want to take the Scottish Government to court. He was the former First Minister and leader of the SNP. He was anxious to avoid embarrassing them despite the unfair process he had been subjected to.
Attempts to broker mediation and then legal arbitration were flat refused by the Sturgeon led government and Salmond was left with no alternative but to take them to court. This whole episode is the prime purpose of investigation which the special committee was established to appraise and the attempts yesterday by several MSPs, unionist and SNP loyalists, to traduce Salmond were despicable.
Outside legal counsel, some of the top legal brains in Scotland, advised the Scottish Government their whole investigation was not just farcical but profoundly illegal and therefore indefensible.
Yet despite receiving such forthright legal advice, advice the Scottish Government (SG) refuse to release despite the Parliamentary Committee and the whole Scottish Parliament voting twice to compel them to hand it over, the SG refused to drop their case but instead obstructed justice by denying access to legal documents Salmond's legal team were entitled to.
Salmond made a thoroughly convincing case that the refusal to concede the Judicial Review (JR) case was entirely due to the hope within the cabal circle that a criminal investigation could be encouraged and speeded up to supersede the civil case and bury the damning evidence of conspiracy and illegality forever. According to Salmond and the other evidence available, the SG only dropped the civil JR case when the eminent external QCs advising them threatened to resign.
They themselves had been deceived and were denied crucial documents that indicated Salmond was well and truly fitted up. The fiasco ended up costing the Scottish taxpayer an unnecessary sum in excess of £600,000 in legal fees and the SG were found guilty of acting illegally, unfairly and in a biased fashion against Salmond which is why the costs were set at a punitively high-level.
The Culprits Should be Sacked
The legal advice the Scottish Parliament has voted twice to see simply must be released and if it shows what Salmond alleges, that the SG had an un-stateable case and should drop defence of the JR action, then all the civil servants, politicians and legal staff involved should be sacked.
Unfortunately, if Nicola Sturgeon was present at these meetings, apparently 17 took place, then she broke her Ministerial Code and will have to go also. She has in the last few days urged Salmond to produce evidence to back up his claims of the concerted campaign to destroy him. Well, First Minister lets start with that legal advice and the minutes of the 17 meetings which discussed the legal advice. Where is it? Why won’t you publish it? How can you claim to be a democrat and defy the will of the Parliament twice expressed to release this advice? That is evidence. Crucial evidence.
Salmond's evidence in relation to the leak of the SG Report which was produced by their illegal and biased investigation is fundamental to understanding the nature and reality of the conspiracy.
Only certain individuals had access to the report. Salmond's solicitors threatened an interdict to prevent the release of an SG press statement about the report.
But within days a unionist tabloid ran a story in graphic details designed to embarrass Salmond to the hilt quoting the report verbatim. This was a criminal act. The pathetic attempt of this rag to explain how they got the story is a desperate attempt to hide the source but this irresponsible and outrageous act of criminality not only damaged Alex Salmond it threatened the anonymity of the complainers which the conspirators repeatedly allege is at the centre of their considerations. What utter tosh
It is impossible to summarise six hours of evidence and a three year series of events in one column but readers interested in the truth and related facts must consult the Salmond written evidence, his riveting testimony under oath today and the impeccably researched contributions featured on the popular independence website Wings Over Scotland.
The interventions by Holyrood Magazine editor Mandy Rhodes are also compelling and courageous and merit attention as she is spot on when she highlights that the women who were original complainers and those who were cajoled to become complainers in the criminal case are far from the attention or concern of Sturgeon's cabal:
"And what of the women? They are shockingly absent in this. Two women let down by a complaints process, their wishes ignored and their views overruled, the only time they appear to get a mention is when it is politically convenient for the First Minister or her spokespeople to do so to deflect criticism from her and back on to Salmond".
Salmond Conspirators Face Wrath of the Truth in Coming Days
The writing is on the wall for the conspirators who set out to destroy a man's reputation but ended up threatening his very liberty. While Nicola has taken several opportunities to attack Alex Salmond and undermine the finality of the jury decision which cleared him of serious offences, including at a Covid19 briefing, Salmond has said nothing in public for eleven months true to his word outside the court when he was cleared last March. No need for Alex to offer corrections to his evidence like so many before him who forgot crucial meetings, emails and WhatsApp messages until evidence compelled them to fess up lest they face perjury charges. Many may still face such charges.
The meeting on 26 February was held in the Robert Burns Committee Room One and Alex may have taken inspiration from Rabbies' words "Dare to be honest and fear no labour" but I'm sure the sage advice of the philosopher and revolutionary Thomas Paine also inspired him, "He who dares not offend cannot be honest".
Salmond was honest and articulate and only those with something to hide will be offended. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is due to give evidence to the Committee next Wednesday. If she persists in the line that no evidence of a conspiracy exists, she must release the legal advice her government received during the JR contemplation, instruct the COPFS to lift their ridiculous redactions of Salmond's written evidence and rescind the 58 refusals to release documents to the investigation committee clocked up to date. If she has nothing to hide, then all that evidence must be released.
To continue to claim jigsaw identification fears surrounding the identities of the criminal trial complainers is what prevents such evidence from being revealed is an empty and cowardly refrain. The wrath of the truth will soon embrace the conspirators.