Dan Vevers Profile picture
21 Feb, 17 tweets, 7 min read
My investigation about the origins of the initial harassment complaints against Alex Salmond - and the complaints procedure for former ministers that was being drawn up in tandem.

It raises further questions about what the FM knew and when. Thread... thescottishsun.co.uk/news/scottish-…
Take this, which is where my timeline begins. Early November 2017, Permanent Secretary Leslie Evans was alerted to Sky News story (which they never ran in the end) about alleged behaviour from Alex Salmond at Edinburgh Airport.

Ms Evans told the First Minister about it.
In evidence to the Holyrood inquiry, she said she did this as she wanted to alert Nicola Sturgeon to the prospect of the story, and also because she said Mr Salmond had been approaching civil servants for support in refuting the story.

Just days later, a woman comes forward.
Notably, Leslie Evans is informed.

She told the committee she did not inform the First Minister. At this stage, she said, the claims were "concerns" and not yet formal complaints.

Of course, at that point a former ministers policy didn't yet exist. But it was being worked on.
James Hynd, head of Cabinet Secretariat, was tasked with drafting it, and eight drafts of the document all through November are crystal clear.

"If the former Minister is a member of the Party of the current administration the First Minister will be informed."

Below from v 6.2.
Then, on November 29th, there are various developments.

The day before, ScotGov HR boss Nicola Richards tasks two officials with speaking again to Ms B and Ms A - the second future complainer who comes forward about a week earlier. It's really to sound them out about next steps.
Ms A provides officials with a written account of her claims. And something else - she asks to "speak direct" to Nicola Sturgeon.
That same day, Nicola Richards holds a meeting with Leslie Evans.

This meeting is not documented in any written Scottish Government statements or timelines given to the Holyrood inquiry.

But it's buried in the court record from Mr Salmond's judicial review case.
You'll also note another meeting that day - between the "first respondent" and an "interested party" to discuss the proposed procedure.

They are Leslie Evans and Nicola Sturgeon.

This is the Scottish Government timeline on development of the procedure. No November 29 entry.
That's why @Douglas4Moray has called this a "secret meeting" that the Scottish Government "tried to hide".

I asked the Scottish Government for any minutes of this meeting.

They highlighted that it's normal in government business that not all conversations/meetings are minuted.
A bit of background on the court records. The government did provide them to the inquiry, eventually.

But at first, the government said it couldn't - that only the court could produce it. It wasn't until a legal wrangle with Mr Salmond's team that the SG produced its version.
So, we don't know the details of what the First Minister and the Perm Sec discussed on November 29th.

What we do know is, two days later, Nicola Richards asked James Hynd for v 6.2 of the harassment policy, to "test it with some key individuals".
Burning the midnight oil, Ms Richards circulates a new draft of the procedure at 11.34pm on December 5th.

This version removes Nicola Sturgeon from the complaints process and states she will only be informed "on the outcome" of any investigation.

Compare the two versions here.
Why does all this matter? Nicola Sturgeon told parliament she first learned of the allegations against her predecessor five months after all this began - on April 2nd, 2018.

It's also, as @jamesmatthewsky reported, what the Scottish Government told the Court of Session.
If that's not true, it's very serious for the FM and the government.

Ms Sturgeon has always denied she misled parliament. She said she "forgot" about a meeting on March 29th, four days earlier, where the allegations were raised by Mr Salmond's ex chief-of-staff Geoff Aberdein.
She said that meeting was "fleeting" and "opportunistic" - a popping head around the door type of conversation.

In evidence expected to be published imminently by the inquiry, Mr Salmond alleges this is "simply untrue" and that the meeting was arranged to discuss the complaints.
There is also the fact that Mr Aberdein knew of the complaints in the first place.

And there I'll leave this thread, which I hope is helpful for people wanting to understand this pretty complex tale.

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More from @DanVevers

22 Feb
Alex Salmond's final submission to the Holyrood inquiry is simply explosive, and contains gravely serious allegations.

“The inescapable conclusion is of a malicious and concerted attempt to damage my reputation and remove me from public life in Scotland." Image
"Perhaps the most serious issue of all is the
complete breakdown of the necessary barriers which should exist between Government, political party and indeed the prosecution authorities in any country
which abides by the rule of law."
The submission is designed as an overview of all four stages of the inquiry, so it then dives into phase 1, which concerns development of the harassment procedure against former ministers.

Some of this will be familiar to those who read at the weekend. thescottishsun.co.uk/news/scottish-… Image
Read 9 tweets

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