THAT PARLIAMENTARY INQUIRY
First of all let me establish what this Inquiry is about and equally importantly what it is not about.
It is operating within very specific and tight regulation in what it is allowed to investigate. It is solely permitted to examine the issues in the first Salmond trial where the Scottish Government had created new rules in light of the Me Too campaign for the Scottish Government. They very unusually made these rules retrospective and this led to them raising action against the former First Minister. To date, he remains the only person it has ever been used against.
The main players in this were Civil Servants Lesley Evans and Judith Mackinnon, the “investigating officer”. They drew up the new regulations and Nicola Sturgeon signed them off.
The Inquiry has to investigate the quite improper procedures involved in this which led to the catastrophic disaster of the Scottish Government case collapsing forcing them to withdraw from the case before some very damaging evidence became public knowledge. The result of this was the Court awarding Mr Salmond in excess of £500,000 to cover his legal expenses. Efforts to uncover the true costs to the Scottish Government have not, thus far, been able to be calculated as according to Lesley Evans no accounting procedures exist for so doing. Believe that if you will.
Despite withdrawing their case it did not save them from a very firm slap down from the judge who clearly felt the Scottish Government were not being open and were disguising and withholding evidence. The Scottish Government denied this but when the Judge then used his powers to ensure full disclosure, a mountain of new evidence became available. It was at this point the Scottish Government decided it better to withdraw from the case. So the case was lost, Alex Salmond was awarded his legal costs. That was the end of it, or so we thought but the famous “We have lost the battle but will win the war” message was sent and of course as we all now know the alphabet allegations followed and the rest is now history.
The Inquiry cannot look at any of the events in the second trial, the criminal trial. Again the outcome of that trial was completely in Alex Salmond’s favour. It remains to be seen what action Mr Salmond may consider justified, if any, following the Inquiry to recoup damages from both trials. He remains seriously out of pocket for the second trial that was based on the failed allegations of the alphabet women. The damages to reputation and standing from both trials could be huge I would have thought.
The inquiry CANNOT examine anything from the second trial involving the Alphabet Women, it is purely restricted to the collapse of the first trial, the actions of the First Minister and her senior civil servants and their culpability in the collapse of the case and the loss to the taxpayer of many hundreds of thousands of pounds.
There is however a risk that some of the evidence from the first trial that evidenced a plot against Alex Salmond, which became so apparent in the second trial, could prove politically explosive and I suspect this is why the Scottish Government has been so obstructive to releasing much of the paperwork the inquiry is intent of investigating. The latest news on this is not encouraging as the Inquiry has now required Mr Salmond’s lawyers to provide it, as they have many of the copies.
Whether the full story emerges is unlikely, given the restrictions to only investigate the first trial but It will allow things to move on. Alex Salmond will have his first opportunity to make his case to the inquiry, he will present evidence, some of which he was denied the opportunity to do in court in the first case because the Scottish Government collapsed their own case to avoid that happening.
As to the second trial, we will all have to wait to see whether further legal actions happen and of course there are rumours of a book.
So don’t expect too much from the inquiry, it can’t uncover the whole story, this is the bit most SNP supporters will most enjoy because there is considerable evidence against the Westminster arm of the Scottish Government in the form of Lesley Evans, a luxury that is not available in the second trial where all the main culprits were home grown.
I am, as always
YOURS FOR SCOTLAND.
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