Alex salmond

Alex Salmond and the trouble with revenge

Ancient Greeks were not slow to express their enthusiasm for taking revenge. Observing the recent proceedings in the Scottish parliament, they would probably have concluded that Alex Salmond was of like mind. But will that revenge do him any good? Plato made Socrates define ‘justice’ as ‘rendering to each man what he is owed’, which another speaker amplified as ‘owing good to one’s friends and ill to one’s enemies’, a sentiment repeated across Greek literature. As a result, pure enmity was regarded as a perfectly good motive for revenge. The Greek orator Demosthenes once justified bringing a case against a man for tax evasion by pointing out that his opponent

The Sturgeon case exposes the fatal flaw in Scottish devolution

The campaign for a Scottish parliament was rooted in the notion of a ‘democratic deficit’. Scotland kept voting Labour but the UK kept getting Conservative governments. Devolution, so the logic ran, would give Scotland a more responsive government. Two decades on, a new democratic deficit is emerging: the chasm between the minimum accountability demanded by the parliament and the maximum Nicola Sturgeon’s government is prepared to give. A new establishment has taken root in Edinburgh, more powerful and less accountable than the old one. The Alex Salmond inquiry, which began as a recondite tale about a failed attempt by Sturgeon’s government to probe sexual misconduct claims against the former Scottish

What is Nicola Sturgeon hiding?

For as long as it has been rumoured, and even more so since it was confirmed, Nicola Sturgeon’s appearance on Wednesday before the Holyrood committee investigating her government’s unlawful handling of complaints made against Alex Salmond promised to be a challenging, perhaps even chastening, moment for the First Minister. Twin revelations tonight appear to reinforce that supposition. In spades. If Sturgeon’s administration was not facing crisis before, it undoubtedly is now. At the outset of this process — which followed Salmond’s acquittal on all charges made against him in the criminal trial — Sturgeon promised that she and her government would co-operate fully with the inquiry. Such words are cheap,

Fraser Nelson

The Lord Advocate shows the ‘punishable’ Scottish parliament where power really lies

The Alex Salmond inquiry is about far more than his allegations against Nicola Sturgeon and her government: it offers alarming insights into the extent and scope of political power in Scotland. In particular, the way in which the Crown Office, Scotland’s government prosecutors, pressured the devolved parliament into censoring Salmond’s evidence. It’s all the more worrying because the Lord Advocate, who runs the Crown Office, is a serving member of Sturgeon’s Cabinet. It was his turn to face that committee today. James Wolffe QC started by reminding them that they were dealing with someone above them. ‘The actions of the Crown are not within the remit of the committee’, he said in

Sturgeon’s establishment stitch-up

When The Spectator went to High Court in Edinburgh to seek clarification over the Alex Salmond case, we did not act out of chumminess or a conviction that he was telling the truth. We are not natural allies of his. We are not sure if his explosive claims are correct, but we are sure that they should be scrutinised by a free press and free parliament.  Sturgeon’s allies were instead dealing with his allegations against her by seeking to stop Salmond’s full story ever being told. The SNP-led investigating committee had said it would not publish his submitted evidence – which, as they knew, would mean he would not appear in front of them. The pretext? That Salmond’s evidence somehow

Salmond’s case will have consequences – he just can’t admit it

As Alex Salmond finally testified before the Scottish parliament on Friday, it was clear that he was trying to walk quite a fine tightrope. On the one hand, the former first minister is alleging a conspiracy so vast that, if true, it would deeply discredit the central institutions of the devolved Scottish state. His claims put the reputations of the Scottish government, the Scottish parliament, and the Crown Office, not to mention the civil service and even the police, on the line. Yet he shrank from the implications of this. Right from the start, he sought to erect a firewall from the leadership of these institutions and the institutions themselves:

Full text: Salmond’s opening statement to the Holyrood inquiry

This inquiry is not about me. I’ve already established the illegality of the actions of the Scottish government in the Court of Session, and I’ve been acquitted of all criminal charges by a jury in the highest court in the land. These are both the highest courts in the land, the highest civil court and the highest criminal court.  The remit for this inquiry is about the actions of others. It’s an investigation into the conduct of ministers, the permanent secretaries, civil servants and special advisers. It also requires to shine a light on the activities of the Crown Office, and to examine the unacceptable conduct of those who appear to

Alex Massie

A beginner’s guide to the Salmond inquiry

For some months now it has been apparent that the greatest threat to Nicola Sturgeon’s position as the uncontested queen of Scottish politics lay within her own movement. Opposition parties could — and did — criticise the Scottish government’s record in government but their efforts were as useful as attempting to sack Edinburgh Castle armed with nothing more threatening than a pea-shooter. Meanwhile, in London, Boris Johnson and his ministers appeared determined to do all they could to inadvertently bolster Sturgeon’s position. As Douglas Ross, the leader of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist party complained, ‘the case for separation is now being made more effectively in London than it ever

It’s a pity that both Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon can’t lose

Henry Kissinger’s sardonic appraisal of the Iran-Iraq War is increasingly applicable to the war between Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon: it is a shame they can’t both lose. Disinterested observers, however, are under no obligation to pick a team. It is wholly possible neither protagonist has offered a convincing version of events. Treating Salmond’s claims sceptically imposes no requirement to swallow Sturgeon’s and, indeed, vice versa. Salmond’s allegations are so extraordinary they risk seeming incredible. It is one thing to allege that senior officials within the SNP – including but not limited to Peter Murrell, the party’s chief executive and Nicola Sturgeon’s husband – wished to destroy Salmond’s reputation. It

Alex Massie

The Salmond case has left the House of Sturgeon teetering

From a distance, Nicola Sturgeon seems unbeatable. Polls show her party with just over 50 per cent of the vote, quite a feat in a five-party parliament. But this week, she has found herself fighting for her political future. Alex Salmond’s sensational claim to be the victim of a conspiracy designed to destroy him — even ‘imprison’ him — has the potential to bring down the House of Sturgeon. Salmond alleges that his successor has misled the Scottish parliament on multiple occasions about her knowledge of (and involvement in) her government’s investigation into complaints of sexual misconduct made against him. Far from knowing nothing and being in no way involved,

There is something rotten in Scottish politics

It is now two years since Nicola Sturgeon accepted the need for a parliamentary inquiry into how, and why, her government’s investigation into Alex Salmond was so thoroughly tainted by apparent bias it was unlawful.   Ever since then, she has repeatedly promised that both she and her government will fully co-operate with the Holyrood committee — set up to investigate the Scottish government’s response to claims of sexual misconduct against her predecessor. Many hollow promises have been made in the still-short history of the Scottish parliament but few have been emptier than this.   It is necessary to insist upon what the committee is not investigating: it takes no view on

Fraser Nelson

Salmond, Sturgeon and why The Spectator went to court

Did Nicola Sturgeon lie to the Scottish parliament? A Holyrood committee into the now infamous Alex Salmond affair has been looking into what she knew and when she knew it. In its possession is Salmond’s explosive written evidence, which contradicts her account. So who is telling the truth? This SNP-chaired inquiry has been in no rush to find the answer. Last month, it made the extraordinary decision not to publish the Salmond submission at all — blaming legal problems. There’s a risk, it said, that his account might identify some of the women who complained against him, thereby defying a court order to protect anonymity. Without the key evidence, its

Lady Dorrian: High Court Ruling released

This is an application to vary an order dated 10 March 2020 made by the court at common law and under section 11 of the Contempt of Court Act 1981: “preventing the publication of the names and identity, and any information likely to disclose the identity, of the complainers in the case of HMA v Alexander Elliot Anderson Salmond” [2] Section 11 provides that where a court having power to do so, allows a name or other matter to be withheld from the public in proceedings before the court, “the court may give such directions prohibiting the publication of that name or matter in connection with the proceedings as appear

Will we ever get to the truth in the Salmond inquiry?

The Spectator’s legal action in the Alex Salmond affair has prompted the Holyrood inquiry to rethink its approach. The magazine went to court to argue the media’s right to publish and the public’s right to read evidence from Salmond which the inquiry is refusing to publish.  A redacted version has already appeared on The Spectator website. Lady Dorrian agreed yesterday to amend an order against reporting information relating to the criminal trial against Salmond, which cleared him of 13 charges of sexual assault. The Sturgeon government’s separate sexual harassment probe into the former First Minister has previously been ruled ‘unlawful’ and ‘tainted by apparent bias’ by a Scottish court. Salmond

Sturgeon and the impunity of the SNP

Scottish politics tends to go through long bouts of single-party dominance. In the 19th century, the Liberals were in charge. After the war, Labour reigned unchallenged, which is why, in 1997, it drew up a devolution settlement on the assumption that Scotland would always be its fiefdom. But Scottish Labour then imploded. The Scottish National party is now the only game in town. Yet there are signs Nicola Sturgeon’s party is stumbling into the pitfalls that await all parties who spend too long in office. Incumbency eventually renders even the most alert and focused political practitioners complacent. Like Scottish Labour before it, the SNP has become arrogant, secretive and controlling.

The Salmond inquiry is a farce

There never has been a clearer case made out for the utility of law and lawyers than the so-called Salmond Inquiry in the Scottish Parliament. The ‘Committee on the Scottish government handling of harassment complaints’ to give it its correct title, has thus far failed to unearth the truth about the machinations within the Scottish government quite simply because it isn’t equipped to do so. Inevitably there is strong suspicion that this Committee was given the job precisely because it would have insufficient expertise or powers to investigate adequately. Committee members appear to have worked extremely hard at carrying out their task. But without counsel to their inquiry, indeed not

Sunday shows round-up: Sturgeon insists she ‘did not mislead’ Scottish parliament

Nicola Sturgeon – ‘False conspiracy theories’ being spread in Salmond assault inquiry Continuing his series of interviews with the UK’s major party leaders, Andrew Marr this morning spoke to Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland. A major feature of the interview was the continuing row between Sturgeon and her predecessor and former mentor Alex Salmond. Salmond was famously put on trial for multiple allegations of sexual assault and harassment in early 2020, and was acquitted of all charges. A Holyrood inquiry is being conducted into the handling of the complaints made against Salmond, who has accused Sturgeon of misleading the Scottish Parliament over what was known when and by

Portrait of the week: Salmond cleared, Olympics postponed and Britain told to stay home

Coronavirus Sunday dawned with 233 people in the United Kingdom dead thus far from the coronavirus Covid-19 (a week earlier it had been 21), and more than 12,000 in the world. Three days later it was 442 in the UK and more than 18,000 worldwide. About 107,000 of the world’s 410,000 cases detected had recovered. A billion people in the world were confined to their homes, joined from Sunday by a billion more in India, where confusion reigned. Testing was uneven, but, in fatalities, Italy, with 6,820 by Tuesday, had gone far beyond China (with 3,277). Iran admitted to 1,934 deaths and Spain had 2,800. China was reporting few new

Alex Salmond will have his revenge

Alex Salmond has been cleared of sexual assault following a trial at the High Court in Edinburgh. The jury returned this afternoon and found the former First Minister not guilty of 12 charges and resorted to Scotland’s special not proven verdict on a 13th allegation. Salmond’s twin defences were that the claims against him were ‘exaggerations’ (he wasn’t perfect but he had never done anything criminal) or ‘deliberate fabrications for a political purpose’ (he was the victim of a conspiracy). In private, much of the Scottish political and media class already had him hanged, drawn and quartered and so this verdict is being met with a mixture of shock, horror

The fourteen charges against Alex Salmond

The former SNP leader Alex Salmond appeared at the High Court in Edinburgh this morning charged with various sexual offences against ten women. He entered not guilty pleas to each of the fourteen counts. Details of the allegations are outlined below: June and July 2008: Indecent assault on various occasions on woman A in Glasgow by kissing her on her mouth and touching her on the breasts and buttocks December 2010 or 2011: Sexual assault on woman A at the Ego nightclub in Edinburgh, touching her arms and hips over her clothes Between October and November 2010: Indecent assault on woman B at Bute House in Edinburgh, repeatedly grabbing her