ALEX Salmond has urged Police Scotland to probe the “politically inspired” leak of harassment allegations against him to the Daily Record.
Speaking to Holyood’s harassment inquiry, the former First Minister suggested that details of the probe into two complaints had been shared with the paper by someone in Nicola Sturgeon’s office.
He told MSPs that the government had initially wanted to put out a press statement revealing the complaints and the findings of the investigation on August 23.
However, he and his lawyers said they would launch an interdict in a bid to stop the sending of the media release.
That led to the government rowing back on plans to alert the press.
However, hours later the Daily Record contacted the former First Minister to say they had knowledge of the complaints.
Salmond told MSPs: “At four o’clock, or roughly, we were told by the government that they’d received a query from the Daily Record, and were concerned that the Daily Record seemed to have knowledge of the complaints, but the Daily Record didn’t come to us and therefore if we’d gone ahead with the interdict at that stage, given that we were interdicting a government statement, as opposed to the supposition of some newspaper then we might well have provoked, the very thing we were trying to avoid.
“However, the Daily Record came to us about eight o’clock and emailed us at quarter past eight saying that they had the substantiation of their story.
“The phone call came to me, I said nothing in response, apart from the fact put it in writing, they did put it in writing, and the Daily Record put the story out at 10 o’clock. That was their deadline.
“I released a statement saying that I was going to sue the Scottish Government. And I held a press conference the next day, but the press conference didn’t talk about the nature of the complaints, it talked about the judicial review and, and why I thought the government were behaving unreasonably and unlawfully.”
However, the next day, the paper had more details of the allegations, which, Salmond said, meant the journalists had “either a copy of, or an extract from the permanent secretary’s decision report.”
Salmond said a BBC show about his criminal trial later inadvertently revealed that the tabloid did have a document.
In an interview with the 2020 Kirsty Wark fronted documentary, The Trial of Alex Salmond, David Dick, the Editor-in-Chief of the Record said: “The story was that two women had complained of assaults of a sexual nature by the former First Minister, Alex Salmond. You know you get a document like that and you’re the editor of a national newspaper then obviously the hairs stick up on the back of your neck.”
Salmond told MSPs: “The ICO has investigated the matter. And the procurator came to the conclusion that she was sympathetic to the idea that the source of the leak was from within the Scottish Government, she said.
“The government’s internal review as an investigation identified 23 people who had access to the information.”
He said the ICO weren’t able to further in terms of determining who might be responsible for the leak, but that the sharing of the document was criminal.
Salmond added: “There’s one point of some confusion that I certainly haven’t gotten to the bottom of yet, and that is that the ICO’s procurator’s report lists the various interested parties who have had copies of the report.
“It lists, for example, the complainer, it lists myself. It comes to not a reasonable assumption that neither the complainants or myself had any interest in leaking the contents.
“It lists the Crown Agent. The police, who some people suggested might be the source of the leak, had refused to accept the report from the Crown Agent, so it couldn’t have been the police.
“But it does list the principal private secretary to the First Minister in that group of people.
“Now I’m not suggesting the principal private secretary to the First Minister leaks to the Daily Record. But when he came before this committee he firstly confirmed that he had a copy, or had received on behalf of the office a copy of the report, but subsequently wrote to the committee saying that wasn’t correct.
“My question is quite simple, is why did the procurator for the ICO list the First Minister’s office in the list of interested parties who had access to the report.
“I don’t know the answer, I just know that that was done, and I can’t believe the procurator of the ICO did it for no reason. There had to be a reason for, believing that.
“My own feeling about this is that civil servants, I’m not saying civil servants never leak but they actually seldom leak, but if they do leak, they don’t leak to the political editor of the Daily Record.
“And therefore, I think the leak was politically inspired, from who I think should require further investigation. I think the matter shouldn’t be at an end. I think it’s a hugely serious matter.”
Salmond compared the lack of probe into the complaint leak to the current police investigation “ordered by the Crown Office” into who had leaked information to Kenny MacAskill MP.
“But where is the investigation ordered by the Crown Office into what has been a hugely distressing leak to the Daily Record in August 2018?” he asked.
“As far as I know there has been nothing said or done by the Crown Office in trying to determine where that leak came from.
“There does seem to be a disparity in their attitude to criminal behaviour.”