Originally published in the National.
Joanna Cherry calls for Alex Salmond’s ‘place in SNP history to be reinstated’
In an interview with The Times on the day of her party’s conference, the Edinburgh West MP said the former First Minister’s “place in the party’s history” should be “reinstated”.
“The not guilty verdict needs to be respected by all of us,” she said.
Over the summer, the party’s ruling NEC changed the rules for “dual mandate” candidates, with the SNP’s Westminster representatives told they would need to resign their seat, close their office and make their staff redundant if they wanted to run for the Scottish Parliament.
Cherry, who was hoping to be selected for the Edinburgh Central constituency, withdrew her bid, calling the rule change “unreasonable”.
The party said it was about saving money by ruling out the need for standalone by-elections, but many of Cherry’s supporters saw it as a plot to thwart her ambitions.
Earlier this month, the former SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson was named as the candidate for the constituency.
In an interview in today’s Times, Cherry is quoted as saying Nicola Sturgeon personally intervened to deny her access to the meeting of the NEC which discussed dual mandates.
In a statement released early on Saturday morning, the QC says this claim – which has also been denied by the First Minister’s spokesman – simply isn’t true.
She said: “In today’s Times Scotland interview with me there is a significant error regarding the attempt by a small group of SNP NEC members to deselect me as an MP last September. I was grateful to Nicola Sturgeon at the time for stepping in to prevent this. She acted appropriately.
“The issue regarding me being prevented from joining the meeting by phone link was down to a staff member at HQ and not the First Minister. The Times Scotland have been contacted to correct this substantial error which is their and not mine.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Cherry says she gets annoyed when people say she is a “proxy” for Sturgeon’s predecessor.
She said: “I get really irritated when people say I’m just a Salmondite, or an ally of Alex Salmond, because I’m not,” she says. “I have my own views about how to do things, and if people look at the sort of career I’ve had in politics my approach has been mine.”
In March, the former First Minister was acquitted of 12 charges of attempted rape, sexual assault and indecent assault.
The nine women involved in the charges were all current or former Scottish government officials, or SNP politicians.
Cherry told The Times: “In relation to Alex, I had good reason to believe that he was not guilty. I said publicly at the time that he was entitled to the presumption of innocence, and I trusted in the legal system to vindicate him. And it did.
“What I’ll say about that is I was brought up to stand by my friends by my parents, that’s the sort of family I come from. That’s why I’ve stood by him. It’s rather a comment on modern life that so few did.”
She said that, during her early months at Westminster, Salmond was her greatest supporter. “One person you could always turn to for support and advice was him,” she said. “He was always the first person on the phone. We’ve had some real humdingers of arguments about policy and stuff, but I am fond of him.”
Cherry added: “I want to see him as a member of the party again and I want his place in the party’s history reinstated,” she said. “The not guilty verdict needs to be respected by all of us.
“Of course women should be able to make complaints, and you should have a fair and transparent complaints process, but you must also be fair to the person being complained against.
“You can’t substitute your feelings for the verdict of the court.”
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