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Nicola Sturgeon under pressure at Alex Salmond investigation inquiry

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The inquiry is proving to be very damaging to the Scottish independence movement by pitting its leaders past (R) and present (L) against each other

Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has come under severe pressure to explain her role during the investigation into her predecessor, Alex Salmond.

Giving evidence to the inquiry at the Scottish parliament (Holyrood), Sturgeon strongly denied she was “out to get” Salmond and was insistent she did not intervene in the Scottish government’s investigation into the former Scottish National Party (SNP) leader. 

The inquiry comes nearly three years after the Scottish government’s decision to launch an investigation into Salmond after two female civil servants made sexual harassment allegations against him.

However, in January 2019 a judge dismissed the findings of the Scottish government investigation thereby handing Salmond a resounding victory in what appears to have been a politically-motivated case. 

Judge Lord Pentland ruled the decisions were "unlawful in respect that they were procedurally unfair and that they were tainted with apparent bias".

Salmond was subsequently awarded £512,250 to cover his legal fees.

However, only two weeks after his legal victory Salmond was arrested by Police Scotland and charged with 14 offences, including two counts of attempted rape, nine of sexual assault, two of indecent assault, and one of breach of the peace.

But in yet another legal victory, Salmond was cleared of all charges at his trial in March 2020.

Tories rejoice 

The current inquiry has been seized by the SNP’s enemies – notably the Scottish Tories – who are calling on her to resign following the Scottish government’s botched handling of the case.

For example, e-mails have come to light showing the Scottish government decided to continue to press the legal case against Salmond even after its own lawyers advised against it.

The Scottish government’s severe mishandling of the case has prompted Salmond to lodge a formal complaint with the permanent secretary to the Scottish government under the civil service code.

Political implications 

Beyond issues of legality and alleged criminal conduct, the inquiry is proving to be politically damaging to the Scottish independence movement in so far as it has dramatically pitted the giants of Scottish nationalism against each other.

Furious fights have broken out on social media with supporters of Sturgeon and Salmond entrenching their positions and at times trading insults and accusations.

The in-fighting in the Scottish nationalist camp has been predictably met by glee by British establishment stalwarts who are hoping the inquiry and its aftermath will sabotage the SNP’s chances of securing a resounding victory in May’s parliamentary election.

Leading BBC journalist, Andrew Marr, gave full expression to the effort to divide the Scottish nationalist community by presenting the inquiry as a “duel” between “two of the most formidable” politicians in Europe.  

— Andrew Marr (@AndrewMarr9) March 3, 2021 ">http://

It was a bit of a shock. I have been gripped by every minute of this so far… In Sturgeon and Salmond, Scotland has had two of the most formidable, fluent politicians anywhere in Europe. Their duel is such a crunch moment for the whole UK

— Andrew Marr (@AndrewMarr9) March 3, 2021



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