Alex Salmond, the former Scottish first minister and ex-leader of the ruling Scottish National Party, is taking the country’s government to court over accusations of sexual misconduct made against him.
Salmond says the Scottish government has denied him the opportunity to properly defend himself against the claims, which relate to his behavior toward a member of staff at the official Bute House residence, according to the Daily Record of Scotland.
“The permanent secretary chose to deny me contact with any current civil servant, many of whom wished to give evidence on my behalf and access to documentation to allow me to properly challenge the complaints, all of which I refute and some of which were patently ridiculous,” he said on Twitter Thursday. “It is therefore with great reluctance that I have (Thursday 23rd August) launched a Judicial Review in the Court of Session which will decide the issue of the lawfulness of the procedure which has been used against me.”
In a statement, a spokesman for the Scottish government said it would “defend its position vigorously.” “We can confirm that Alex Salmond has initiated legal proceedings against the Scottish government and as a result we are restricted in what we can say,” he said. “As a matter of principle and integrity, it is vital that any allegations of harassment are treated seriously and investigated thoroughly, regardless of the identity of the party involved.”
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon defended her government’s actions in the wake of complaints against Salmond in a statement posted to her official Twitter account on Friday morning. She said an internal investigation followed procedure and confirmed that she had opted not to speak publicly on the matter until the probe was complete.
She added that “this focus on process cannot deflect from the fact that complaints were made.” The Scottish leader said that she has repeatedly advocated for all organizations to ensure people feel they can speak up without fear.
“My relationship with Alex Salmond obviously makes this an extremely difficult situation for me to come to terms with. I am also acutely aware how upsetting this will be for my party,” Sturgeon said. “However the over-riding priority must be to ensure fair and due process,” Sturgeon concluded. Political heavyweight
Salmond resigned as first minister and SNP leader following a defeat in the November 2014 referendum on Scottish independence, which he had long championed.
He was replaced by Sturgeon, who has maintained the party’s dominance in Scotland, but not to the degree before the referendum. Indeed, one of the highest-profile casualties of a swing away from the SNP was Salmond himself, who lost his parliamentary seat in the 2017 election. Despite leaving Parliament, Salmond has remained a major figure in both Scottish and British politics, working as a commentator and hosting the Alex Salmond Show on Russian state broadcaster RT.
UK meets #MeToo
While the #MeToo movement has had less of an impact in the UK than the US, multiple British politicians have been publicly accused of sexual misconduct.
UK Defense Secretary Michael Fallon resigned last year after admitting his past behavior toward women had “fallen short,” becoming the first British politician to resign over rumors of sexual harassment at Westminster.
Around the time he stepped down, an unconfirmed list of inappropriate behavior by politicians was widely circulated within Parliament, similar to the “men in media” list that brought down a few prominent male journalists.