Alex Salmond alleges malicious attempt to damage him

Alex Salmond alleges malicious attempt to damage him

Scotland’s former first minister Alex Salmond has made accusations of a “malicious and concerted” attempt to remove him from public life.

The claim appears in papers published ahead of his appearance at a Holyrood inquiry into the Scottish government’s mishandling of complaints against him.

Mr Salmond names people he alleges to have been part of moves to damage his reputation.

Nicola Sturgeon insisted any accusation of a conspiracy was “not true”.

She told the BBC that there was “not a shred of evidence” that Mr Salmond could show to prove his claims.

On Monday evening the Scottish Parliament’s committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints made Mr Salmond’s submission public.

In it he said: “The inescapable conclusion is of a malicious and concerted attempt to damage my reputation and remove me from public life in Scotland.

“It is an attempt which would, in fact, have succeeded but for the protection of the court and jury system and in particular the Court of Session and the High Court of Justiciary.

“However, underlying all of this and 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.”

Mr Salmond is due to face questions from members of the Holyrood committee when he goes before them on Wednesday.

The inquiry was established after the government conceded an internal investigation of two harassment complaints against the former first minister had been “unlawful”.

He was awarded more than £500,000 in legal expenses following the judicial review case, and was subsequently acquitted of charges of sexual assault in a separate High Court trial.

Mr Salmond names people he believes helped to damage his reputation – including Nicola Sturgeon’s husband Peter Murrell and her chief of staff, Liz Lloyd. He also described the Crown Office as “not fit for purpose” under its current leadership.

In the published document he asserts: “I leave to others the question of what is, or is not, a conspiracy but am very clear in my position that the evidence supports a deliberate, prolonged, malicious and concerted effort amongst a range of individuals within the Scottish government and the SNP to damage my reputation, even to the extent of having me imprisoned.

“That includes, for the avoidance of doubt, Peter Murrell (chief executive), Ian McCann (compliance officer) and Sue Ruddick (chief operating officer) of the SNP together with Liz Lloyd, the First Minister’s Chief of Staff.

“There are others who, for legal reasons, I am not allowed to name.”

He added: “The real cost to the Scottish people runs into many millions of pounds and yet no-one in this entire process has uttered the simple words which are necessary on occasions to renew and refresh democratic institutions – ‘I Resign’.

“The committee now has the opportunity to address that position.”

Mr Salmond believes his successor has misled parliament and breached the ministerial code. The code states ministers who knowingly mislead parliament would be expected to resign.

MSPs previously decided against publishing the submission the former first minister made to a separate inquiry, which is considering whether Ms Sturgeon breached the ministerial code.

The Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body (SPCB) then concluded “on balance” it would be “possible” for the document to be published.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “What we have not seen is a shred of evidence to back these wild claims up.

“Now, in front of the parliament, the burden of proof is on Alex Salmond. It is time for insinuation and assertion to be replaced with actual evidence.”

A Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) spokesman said it took seriously its responsibility to uphold the law and to protect the dignity and rights of “all those who come into contact with COPFS”.

He added that Scotland’s prosecutors had acted “independently and in the public interest at all times” in relation to the case.

An additional written submission by Ms Lloyd said she rejected the conspiracy allegation in “its entirety” and was not “substantiated by any evidence and is founded on a number of claims, that are false”.

An SNP spokesman said: “This is just more assertion without a shred of credible evidence.

“Several of the women have already made clear how utterly absurd it is to suggest they were part of a conspiracy to bring him down. And yet Alex Salmond is still making these ridiculous and baseless claims and lashing out at all and sundry.”

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