Nicola Sturgeon is due to give evidence to the Holyrood committee examining the Scottish Government’s unlawful investigation of sexual harassment allegations made against Alex Salmond.
The inquiry was established after Scotland’s former first minister successfully challenged the government’s apparently biased investigation, resulting in a £512,250 payout.
Here are the key dates as the saga has unfolded:
October 31, 2017
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon orders a review of the Scottish Government’s “policies and processes for addressing inappropriate conduct” in the wake of the MeToo movement.
The review is led by the government’s most senior civil servant, permanent secretary Leslie Evans.
Sturgeon is informed about an inquiry by Sky News relating to Salmond’s alleged behaviour towards female staff at Edinburgh Airport.
Sturgeon approves the “Handling of Harassment Complaints Involving Current or Former Ministers” procedure.
Two female staff members make formal complaints to the Scottish Government about Salmond’s conduct in December 2013 when he was first minister.
An internal investigation is established and investigating officer Judith Mackinnon is appointed.
The permanent secretary tells Salmond about the investigation.
Salmond’s former chief of staff, Geoff Aberdein, meets Sturgeon at Holyrood and discusses the allegations.
In her written evidence to the committee in 2020, Sturgeon says she forgot about this meeting until “late January/early February” 2019.
Salmond meets Sturgeon at her home in Glasgow and tells her that he is under investigation.
In Salmond’s later written evidence, he states the First Minister “suggested that she would intervene in favour of a mediation process at an appropriate stage” but subsequently decided against intervening.
Sturgeon has argued she thought this was a party meeting, rather than a government one.
Salmond calls Sturgeon twice, asking her to encourage the permanent secretary to accept his mediation request.
Sturgeon meets Salmond in Aberdeen, ahead of the SNP conference.
Sturgeon and Salmond meet at the First Minister’s Glasgow home.
The Crown Office passes complaints about Salmond to police.
Salmond is told the government inquiry is complete.
The Scottish Government tells Salmond’s lawyers it intends to release a public statement about the investigation, but agrees not to until an interim interdict application seeking to block publication has been heard.
The Daily Record newspaper breaks news of the allegations against Salmond via a tweet.
He denies misconduct and calls some of the allegations “patently ridiculous”.
Salmond lodges a petition for a judicial review at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.
Salmond resigns from the SNP, but says he will apply to rejoin once he has cleared his name.
He launches a crowdfunding appeal for the review, which quickly reaches more than £100,000.
Police confirm they have launched an investigation into the complaints against Salmond, separate from the government’s investigation and the judicial review process.
January 8, 2019
A week before the full judicial review is due to start, the Scottish Government concedes defeat at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.
The government’s lawyers accept that investigating officer Ms Mackinnon has had previous contact with the complainers.
The court concludes the investigation was “unlawful” and “tainted by apparent bias”.
Ms Evans releases a statement apologising to “all involved” and Salmond calls for her to consider her position.
Sturgeon refers herself to independent advisers to rule on whether she breached the ministerial code in her meetings with Salmond.
MSPs agree to hold a Holyrood inquiry into the government’s handling of the complaints against Salmond.
Police Scotland arrest Salmond.
Salmond appears at Edinburgh Sheriff Court and is charged with several sexual offences, including attempted rape, which he denies.
The Scottish Government pays £511,250 to Salmond in connection with the judicial review.
February 26, 2020
The Scottish Parliament Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaint meets for the first time.
Salmond’s criminal trial starts at the High Court in Edinburgh.
Salmond is acquitted on all charges.
The jury returns not guilty verdicts on 12 charges, including attempted rape, and a further not proven verdict is returned on a charge of sexual assault with intent to rape.
The Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints hears evidence from its first witness, the permanent secretary.
Committee convener Linda Fabiani warns their investigation is being “completely frustrated” by a lack of evidence from key witnesses, and accuses the Scottish Government of “obstruction”.
The Scottish Parliament passes a motion demanding the government reveals the legal advice it received during the judicial review.
The inquiry into the Salmond affair reaches an agreement with the Scottish Government over access to previously undisclosed material.
January 13, 2021
Salmond rejects an invitation to appear before the committee in person on February 19, citing public health grounds.
Salmond alleges the Scottish Government’s “reprehensible” failure to release “crucial” documents had put him at a disadvantage in both his criminal trial and legal challenge against the government’s investigation.
In written evidence to the committee, he says his legal team will ask the Lord Advocate whether the government was in contempt of court over the “withholding of relevant evidence”.
Salmond refuses another offer to appear before the committee the following week.
The committee offers a final date – February 8 – for Salmond to appear to give evidence.
The Crown Office confirms it has handed over evidence to the Holyrood inquiry.
It allows the unprecedented step of MSPs issuing a notice to the Crown Office under part of the Scotland Act, demanding the release of documents detailing text or WhatsApp communications between SNP chief operating officer Susan Ruddick and Scottish Government ministers, civil servants or special advisers.
It also asks for any documents linked to the leaking of complaints to the Daily Record newspaper in August 2018.
Salmond brands the behaviour of the current Scottish Government a “disgrace”, in a written submission to the inquiry.
He accuses Ms Evans of having a “bias” against him.
He also claims the “overwhelming likelihood” is that someone in the government leaked details of the case against him to the press.
Salmond declines to appear before the harassment committee over concerns about the committee not publishing his evidence.
His submission, published elsewhere online, accused Sturgeon of breaching the ministerial code with “false and manifestly untrue” statements to parliament, which she denies.
Salmond’s lawyers say he “cannot take his oath to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth” until a number of concerns were addressed, including the publication of the evidence by the committee and concerns about him being “in legal jeopardy”.
Alex Salmond agrees to appear before the Holyrood inquiry after his evidence is published in a redacted form following a long drawn-out saga.
Salmond gives evidence to the Holyrood committee.
He says Scotland’s “leadership has failed” and calls for the Lord Advocate and the head of Scotland’s civil service, Leslie Evans, to resign over the handling of the complaints against him.
He says he has “no doubt” Sturgeon broke rules governing the behaviour of ministers, but stops short of saying she should resign.
The Scottish Conservatives call on Sturgeon to resign after the Scottish Government published legal advice related to the botched investigation.
Deputy first minister John Swinney agreed to hand over the legal advice under threat of a no-confidence vote, and acknowledged “reservations were raised” by government lawyers about the way allegations about Salmond were investigated.
The Scottish Conservatives say they will submit a no-confidence motion in the First Minister.
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