Politics

Alex Salmond Inquiry accused of becoming ‘political fight’ and putting off women from making complaints in future

The Alex Salmond Inquiry has become too political and its actions could put off women from making complaints in the future, one of the original complainers against the ex-First Minister has said.

The individual, who cannot be identified, slammed the committee of MSPs and accused it of allowing the Scottish Government to escape scrutiny.

In a powerful interview with BBC Scotland, they said the attention given to the inquiry was “more traumatic” than giving evidence in the High Court.

They claimed the committee had strayed so far from its own remit that it had made any of its findings “completely useless”.

A special Holyrood committee is investigating the Scottish Government’s botched handling of sexual misconduct complaints against the former first minister.

Salmond took the government to court in 2018 and it was accepted the internal probe had been unlawful.

The fiasco ended the friendship between Nicola Sturgeon and Salmond, whose allies believe he was targeted by Government and SNP figures.

As a result of a separate police investigation, Salmond was charged with multiple counts of sexual assault in January 2019.

He was cleared of all charges following a trial at the High Court in Edinburgh in March 2020.

The committee of MSPs is examining how the Scottish Government handled complaints made internally and why the process led to taxpayers paying out more than half a million pounds.

But one of the original complainers has now hit out at the process.

“In many ways it is more traumatic than the experience of the High Court trial,” they said in an interview with the BBC on Sunday.

“You had a glimmer of hope in a committee, thinking they could be impartial, they could properly investigate the government, they could contribute towards ensuring sexual harassment and bullying in the work place would no longer be an issue.

“Instead, what has happened is they have taken very personal experiences and they have exploited them for their own self-serving political interests. That itself is traumatic.”

The complainer accused the committee of “believing first hand without any real assessment” that there had been a conspiracy against Salmond.

They added: “They have turned this into a political fight when this should be about the workplace and how it should be safe for women.

“It takes a lot of courage to report sexual harassment, particularly against a very powerful person. I think the fact the government was willing to investigate these complaints is positive.

“But clearly, they let down those women and they have a responsibility to fix that for anyone else in the future.”

They continued: “The fact the committee members have turned this into a political fight has effectively allowed the government to get away with not being properly scrutinised.

Asked if women would be more or less likely to now come forward with complaints, they added: “Much less likely. I think this made it much harder for women to be believed and to come forward.”

Responding to the interview, committee convener Linda Fabiani said: “I am very sorry to hear that but I understand.

“All I can say is the parliament charged the committee with a job to do and we have to do that job.

“I am very sorry people feel like that. And I can only apologise for myself”

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