21:26 GMT16 April 2021
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    Former Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond is suing the Scottish government over its handling of historical allegations of sexual assault relating to the seven years he spent as First Minister of Scotland.

    Salmond was reported to Scottish cops by Holyrood after two staff members made allegations of sexual abuse, including an incident in December 2013 said to have taken place in Bute House, an A-listed building in Edinburgh's Charlotte Square reserved for the First Minister, Scotland's equivalent of Downing Street.

    Via Twitter, Salmond issued a firm denial of the "patently ludicrous" allegations, and revealed his legal action against the Scottish government.

    "For many months I've attempted to persuade the Permanent Secretary to the Scottish Government she is behaving unlawfully in the application of a complaints procedure. This is a procedure so unjust even now I have not been allowed to see and therefore properly challenge the case against me. I have not been allowed to see the evidence. I have tried everything, including offers of conciliation, mediation and legal arbitration to resolve these matters both properly and amicably. This would have been in everybody's interests, particularly those of the two complainants. All of these efforts have been rejected," he said.

    The former party chief added the Permanent Secretary had denied him contact with any current civil servant, many of whom he claims wished to give evidence on my behalf, and access to documentation to allow him to properly challenge the complaints. He says the complaints procedure is "grossly unfair and will "inevitably lead to prejudicial outcomes". If Scotland's Court of Session finds in his favor, then the Scottish Government "will have the most serious questions to answer" at "the highest levels".

    Salmond served as First Minister of Scotland between 2007 and 2014, when he was replaced by Nicola Sturgeon following the victory of ‘No' in the Scottish independence referendum. He was subsequently as MP for Gordon from 2015 but was unseated by Conservative successor Colin Clark at last year's general election.

    Widespread Issue?

    Whatever the truth of the matter, there are strong indications sexual abuse is widespread at the Scottish Parliament. In March, an internal staff survey indicated one in five Holyrood workers — and one in three women — had experienced sexual harassment or sexist behaviour while working at Holyrood. Of those who reported experience of sexual harassment, 45 percent identified the perpetrator as an MSP. Sturgeon expressed shock, sadness and disappointment at the results.

    Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon speaks to members of the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood in Edinburgh, Scotland, Britain June 28, 2016.
    © REUTERS / Scott Heppell
    Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon speaks to members of the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood in Edinburgh, Scotland, Britain June 28, 2016.

    The most common complaints included sexist remarks and "looks, leers, comments or gestures of a sexual nature". When broken down by gender, 30 percent of women and six percent of men reported experiencing this behaviour in some form, while those responsible were found to be "predominantly male and tended to be in a position of authority over those experiencing it". A further five percent reported unwanted physical contact, including "invasion of personal space", such as hugging, kissing, or groping.

    The survey followed comments made in October 2017 by human rights lawyer Aamer Anwar, who criticized the "abject silence" of male MSPs over sexual harassment claims. He said he had been told of a "catalog of abuse" — ranging from cyberstalking to physical assault — much of which would have seen the perpetrators arrested if they were members of the public. He also attacked the "rank hypocrisy" of MSPs, who he said had "spoken out about Weinstein and Westminster", but were failing to tackle sexual harassment in their own legislature. 

     

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    Tags:
    groping, sexual harassment, sex abuse, sexual assault, Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP), Holyrood, Scottish Parliament, Harvey Weinstein, Alex Salmond, United Kingdom, Scotland
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