The Scottish government mishandled the probe of ex-SNP chief Alex Salmond over sexual misconduct allegations, a court has ruled. The officials admitted that the investigation was “procedurally flawed” and apologized.
The decision to launch a probe against former First Minister of Scotland and two-time SNP leader Alex Salmond was “procedurally unfair” and marred with “apparent bias,” Judge Lord Pentland said on Tuesday. The court also ordered the government to pay Salmond’s legal fees.
The investigation against Scotland’s political heavyweight was initiated last year, following allegations of sexual misconduct brought up by two of his former staffers. The alleged incidents supposedly occurred back in 2013 at the first minister’s official residence in Edinburgh.
Alex Salmond denied any wrongdoing, calling the claims “patently ridiculous.” He did, however, choose to temporarily leave the SNP pending the investigation.
The politician also criticized the investigation as “unjust” and complained that he wasn’t allowed to see any evidence and defend himself properly.
During Tuesday’s hearing, government officials admitted that they violated their own guidelines in handling the case. To investigate the accusation made against Salmond, they appointed a person who had prior contacts with the alleged victims. That “failure” rendered the probe “flawed,” Roddy Dunlop, lawyer representing the government, told the court.
Permanent secretary to the Scottish government, Leslie Evans, apologized “to all involved” for the violations that took place during the probe. She argued that there was no proof that the investigating officer was acting biased but admitted that it didn’t matter due to the breach of guidelines.
Evans noted that the government may launch a new investigation into the complaints against Salmond once a separate police probe on the same issue is over.
The former SNP chief welcomed the verdict. The government “unquestionably lacked candor” as the officials repeatedly failed to disclose crucial documents to the court, he said in a statement. The politician added that the evidence seen by the judge revealed an “obvious breach of the principles of fairness and natural justice.”
Alex Salmond served as Scotland’s first minister from 2007 to 2014. He was elected to lead the SNP from 1990 to 2000, and then again from 2004 to 2014. He currently hosts the Alex Salmond Show on RT.
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