An ally of former first minister Alex Salmond says the “precious anonymity” of nine women who accused him of sexual assault “will not be continued” and that “they’re going to reap a whirlwind”.
Former SNP candidate Mark Hirst also warns that when the coronavirus pandemic is over, “there’s going to be a bit of a reckoning”.
A court order issued by trial judge Lady Dorrian means it is illegal for anyone to publish the identify of the women in the case. Breaching the order could result in imprisonment.
Mr Hirst made the comments in a YouTube video in response to a statement released by the women in which they described their “devastation” at Salmond’s acquittal of 13 sexual assault charges, including one of attempted rape.
Sandy Brindley of charity Rape Crisis Scotland told STV News: “These comments are sinister, threatening and to identify the women would be illegal.
“This behaviour should be condemned in the strongest possible terms by all parties — it serves no-one and damages an already fractured and fraught public conversation.”
Mr Hirst claims to have been a defence witness for Salmond but did not give evidence during his trial at the High Court in Edinburgh.
He was previously on the payroll of four of the party’s MSPs, including Sandra White and Christine Grahame. He also worked for Russian state news agency Sputnik and on The Alex Salmond Show, broadcast by Russian state broadcaster RT.
After being cleared at the High Court in Edinburgh, Salmond said “certain evidence” would be revealed once the coronavirus crisis ends. His supporters accuse allies of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon of conspiring against him.
On Sunday, the nine women issued a statement through Rape Crisis Scotland.
That same day, the Sunday Times newspaper published a video in which Salmond’s defence lawyer Gordon Jackson QC was overheard allegedly naming two of the women while on a train from Glasgow to Edinburgh. He has referred himself to a legal regulator.
The Crown Office then issued a fresh warning that the court oder banning the naming of the women remained in place.
In his video, Mr Hirst said: “I suspect very strongly that as this rumbles on, that precious anonymity that they’ve sought will not be continued.
“Because these women, and not just these women, some of the people involved in this, are senior members of the Scottish Government, senior members of the SNP.
“And they’ve been involved in this active collusion to try and destroy Alex Salmond’s reputation and there’s not a cat’s chance in hell that they’re going to get away with that.
“So they’re going to reap a whirlwind, no question about it.
“As soon as this virus emergency is out the way, then there’s going to be a bit of reckoning takes place. We’ll clear out the soft independence supporters which are currently leading the party, that’s why we’ve seen no movement in nearly six years.”
STV News asked Salmond whether he believes the language used by Mr Hirst was appropriate but he declined to comment.
He instead reissued a previous statement, saying “that he would make no further public comment on these matters until after the coronavirus crisis was over.”