“By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes”
Read Part FIVE here
The plot to remove Alex Salmond from public life gathers pace. There is a new retrospective complaints procedure with two complainers; an investigating officer who was instrumental in both the bringing of the complaints and the creation of the procedure; and a decision-maker who works for the UK state. And, importantly, there is deniability for Sturgeon whose orders instigated this whole plan.
The investigating officer McKinnon has been in close contact with the two complainers throughout the process. The investigating officer should not be in contact with complainers as they might influence the complainers. And, by that reasoning, as the complainers were in contact with each other it is entirely possible that one of the complainers influenced the other to make an official complaint.
But only one of the complaints actually happened. Years before there had been a ‘consensual cuddle’ between Salmond and a civil servant that worked for him. The civil servant reported this to her line manager and Salmond as the senior person apologised. The apology was accepted and the civil servant was offered a position at the same grade elsewhere, but she turned that offer down and continued to work for Salmond without further incident. The incident was not judged even remotely criminal at the time. So, why did it resurface and turn into a criminal charge years later?
In March 2018 Salmond was informed of the complaints.
Salmond took legal advice and was told the process was unlawful. According to his testimony, Salmond wanted to protect Sturgeon and the SNP so he met with Sturgeon in April to warn her of the danger to her government and her party. Salmond’s lawyers advised him to seek a judicial review and gave legal advice that Salmond would win. Salmond shared this advice with Sturgeon.
The complainers had been assured at the start of this process that they would control whether the incidents were reported to the police. The complainers when asked made it clear that neither wanted to make a criminal complaint.
The decision report contains the findings of the decision-maker, Evans. This report contains the Evans judgments based on the findings of McKinnon’s internal investigation.
Around the 21st of August 2018 against the wishes of the Complainers, Evans sends the decision report directly to COPFS under Lord Wolfe, who sits in Sturgeon’s cabinet. Sending the decision report directly to COPFS is against the normal procedure. The procedure is the police investigate and gather the evidence, the police pass this evidence to the COPFS and COPFS take a decision as to whether to prosecute. Evans had bypassed the police.
The Sturgeon government tell Salmond’s legal team that Evans’ decision report is to be made public on August 23rd.
Salmond tells the government that he is seeking an interdict to prevent the publication of the decision report and is bringing a case for judicial review.
However, mere hours after Salmond informs the government about the interdict, on the 23rd of August the decision report is leaked to the Daily Record.
A subsequent investigation by the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) found the leak had likely come from Sturgeon’s office. This leak is criminal and is currently the subject of a police investigation. The smear is now in the public domain.
The situation starts to unravel for Sturgeon. Demonstrating his popularity, and despite the smear, Salmond runs an incredibly successful crowd-funder for his judicial review. Salmond is likely now becoming suspicious of Sturgeon’s role in the setup. And Sturgeon knows from legal advice that her government will likely lose the judicial review: legal advice Sturgeon ignores as she waits in the hope of criminal charges.
If criminal charges are brought against Salmond, the judicial review will be stopped as the criminal case will take priority. However, there is simply not enough for a criminal case, one consensual cuddle that was appropriately dealt with years ago and a minor incident that later was shown in court didn’t happen.
They need more - enter Ms. H.
Ms. H had been disappointed by Salmond as he had not supported her political ambitions and had scorned her by favouring her rival.
Peter Murrell is the SNP CEO. The SNP is unusual in the party machine is run by the husband of the party leader. Ian McCann is the SNP Compliance Officer and reports to Murrell. Sue Ruddock is SNP Chief Operations Officer and also reports to Murrell.
Ms. H had disclosed to McCann in November the previous year a completely fictitious story of incidents involving herself and Salmond. McCann’s response was
"we will sit on this in case it has to be deployed later."
It was now ‘Later’.
Ms. H testifies in court that she was encouraged, it is not clear by whom, to make this a police complaint. The complaint from Ms. H becomes the most serious charge. And allows Police Scotland to put together a large investigation team.
Police Scotland begin their investigation into the complaints. It is the police that investigate crimes. As soon as the investigation started, the SNP should have stepped back and let the police get on with it.
However, there is evidence that at this time the SNP was actively trying to find women to make complaints.
Anne Harvie a lawyer and assistant to the SNP Chief Whip at Westminster, tells of a barrage of messages she received looking for complaints about Salmond. She describes this as a ‘fishing expedition’.
There is an infamous text from Murrell asking for pressure to be put on the Met Police.
“Report now with the PF on charges which leaves police twiddling their thumbs."
“So good time to be pressurising them. Would be good to know Met looking at events in London.”
“TBH the more fronts he is having to firefight on the better for all complainers. So CPS action would be a good thing.”
There are also text messages between McCann, Ms. H, and Ruddock regarding bringing on more complainants. Ms. H assures the complainants
"I have figured out a way for us to remain anonymous but to have maximum effect."
The more complainants there is the more chance of a conviction on at least one charge. They only need one guilty verdict and Salmond is finished for good.
The government refuses to concede the judicial review despite external legal advice telling them they would lose. Even to the point that external counsel threatens to walk off the case.
In the end, despite the government’s attempt to prolong the judicial review, the police investigation did not progress quickly enough to save them.
Salmond wins the judicial review. The complaints procedure is judged ‘unfair’, ‘unlawful’ and ‘tainted by apparent bias. He is awarded over half a million in costs. Evans texts a senior Scottish government employee to say
"the battle may be lost, but not the war"
In early 2019, Salmond is arrested and charged with thirteen offenses alleged by nine different women. Despite the wide-ranging police investigation, which interviewed over 400 women, every complainant against Salmond is close to Sturgeon. The following year Salmond is acquitted on all charges.
The Holyrood inquiry reveals the truth bit by bit, but the press do not bite. Sturgeon manages through manipulation of the inquiry process, news management, and her personal popularity to prevent the general public from becoming aware of the truth.
How on earth does Sturgeon manage to hide this story? And what of the ‘good guys’ and the ‘ring-fenced' 600K?
Find out in Part 7
Archive version - https://archive.md/wip/UyJP5
Archive version - https://archive.md/wip/xrWj6
Archive version - https://archive.md/QyYfl
Archive version - https://archive.md/esrzW
Archive version - https://archive.md/esrzW
Archive of Philip Sims reporting - https://archive.md/qiWDJ