Key questions Alex Salmond could face from MSPs

Former first minister is due to give evidence under oath to a Holyrood committee

Alex Salmond, Scotland’s former first minister, is due to give evidence under oath on Friday to a committee of Holyrood MSPs investigating the Scottish government’s botched inquiry into complaints made by two female civil servants against him. His evidence session could last all afternoon. Here are some of the questions he could face.

Does he acknowledge he behaved inappropriately towards women – and that complainers found his conduct offensive or unacceptable?

Nicola Sturgeon has accused Salmond, her former mentor and boss, of making “wild, baseless” claims that there is a conspiracy against him. She says this is to deflect attention from allegations about his behaviour towards women – a reference to the inquiries that have taken place in the last three years.

Two female civil servants accused him of sexual harassment during an internal Scottish government inquiry in 2018. That inquiry was later found by a court to be unlawful on procedural grounds.

In 2019 he was prosecuted for 14 offences of sexual assault – including one of attempted rape – against 10 women, some of whom were junior civil servants. After one charge was dropped early on in the trial, in March 2020 the jury acquitted him of all 13 remaining offences.

What happened at Edinburgh airport?

Salmond, the Scottish government and the SNP were approached by Sky News in late 2017 about alleged incidents involving Salmond at Edinburgh airport between 2007 and 2009, when he was first minister and regularly flying to London.

Angus Robertson, a former leader of the SNP in Westminster, confirmed in a statement to the Holyrood committee investigating the botched government inquiry that he “was called by an Edinburgh airport manager about Alex Salmond’s perceived ‘inappropriateness’ towards female staff at the airport.”

Sturgeon admitted last year she had been told about the approaches by Sky News in November 2017. This conflicted with her previous statements to parliament and the media that she first knew of misconduct allegations against Salmond when he told her on 2 April 2018.

Where is the proof of a conspiracy?

Salmond accuses the Scottish National party, the Scottish government, its most senior civil servant, Leslie Evans, and even officials in the Crown Office of a “prolonged, malicious” conspiracy against him.

Sturgeon has challenged him to present proof of this rather than relying on circumstantial evidence

Salmond also alleges that his former chief of staff Geoff Aberdein was given the identity of one of the two junior civil servants who had accused him of sexual harassment before Salmond and Sturgeon met at her home on 2 April 2018.

On Thursday Sturgeon was asked by MSPs if she could give categoric assurances that the “name of a complainer was not passed” to Aberdein. Sturgeon answered: “To the very best of my knowledge, I do not think that happened.” Can Salmond prove it happened? Does he have any witnesses or corroboration?

Why did he keep on pressing Sturgeon to intervene?

Salmond had five conversations with Sturgeon during 2018, including one at her home in April 2018 where he lobbied her to intervene in the Scottish government inquiry into two complaints by female officials of sexual harassment.

Sturgeon insists she told him she could not and would not intervene. Is that true? What did Sturgeon say to him during those meetings? Why did he insist on discussing it with her on five occasions over the summer of 2018 if it was true she did not intervene?

Contributor

Severin Carrell Scotland editor

The GuardianTramp

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