Fabiani asks Salmond how he would have dealt with a complaint against a former minister.
I would not have introduced a new policy to deal with it. Any response should have been done with proper consideration. “You would not invent a policy to meet a complaint,” Salmond say.
If there was a complaint against the first minister, the deputy first minister would have dealt with it. But no such complaint was made in his time in office, Salmond says.
Fabiani suspends the hearing for 20 minutes.
Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser asks about the role of the Crown Office, the prosecution service in Scotland. Would the Crown Prosecution Service in England request a redaction of documents to a parliamentary inquiry?
Parliament is there to serve the people, the prosecution service should not be interfering in the activities of the parliament, Salmond says.
Some of my evidence is published in reputable journals, Salmond says in reference to the Spectator. It is intolerable that I can’t discuss that evidence to parliament.
The policy wasn’t “botched” it was unlawful, Salmond adds.
The SNP’s Stuart McMillan asks why Salmond thought the FAW policy was robust. Housden told the committee that it was right for former ministers to be included in the procedure, do you agree?
That change should have been applied to existing policy, Salmond repeats. If Housden had been permanent secretary at the time, it would have been done properly, Salmond says.
FAW was carefully considered and above all it was lawful. The new policy was the opposite, it was rushed through and a disaster, Salmond says.
Former ministers should not have been included in the way it was done. Why was there an extraordinary rush? Salmond asks.
Was the #MeToo movement the genesis of the new procedure?
There were a range of issues raised at the time, but not the behaviour of former ministers.
The first minister had a role in the policy until December 2017, Salmond says. Thereafter the permanent secretary (Leslie Evans) took on the policy, Salmond says.
Why is the first minister informed about complaints against current ministers but not former ministers, Salmond says?
Did you ever intervene on behalf of a former minister?
The first minister is duty-bound to intervene if her government is likely to behave in an unlawful fashion. I had no idea where this policy had come from. I assumed there was some error in it.
Baillie asks how was it confirmed that the government leaked the document to the Daily Record?
The Daily Record confirmed to a documentary that it had been leaked a copy of the document, Salmond says. I didn’t have an interest in leaking the document. The police had refused a copy of the report, so they could not have leaked it.
The first minister’s office had access to the document. Civil servants seldom leak, and if they do leak they don’t leak to the political editor of the Daily Record, Salmond says.
The Crown Office has pursued police inquiries on other leaks. But there has been nothing from the Crown Office on this. Why the disparity? Salmond asks.
Baillie asks: why are you confident of the identity of the leaker?
There absolutely should be a police investigation. They broke the law, Salmond says.
Labour’s Jackie Baillie raises the issue of confidentiality of complainers. Was the name of a complainer shared at a meeting with your former chief of staff.
There are three other people who know that to be true, Salmond.
How you notified of the Daily Record story about complaints against you in August 2018?
Salmond suggests he was informed on the day of publication. The next day the Daily Record published part of a leaked government document. The ICO investigated and said it was “sympathetic” to the view that the criminal leak came from the Scottish government. But they could not investigate fully.
Allan asks about the timeline on the introduction of the new complaints procedure.
Salmond points out that civil servants were working on a policy to cover former first ministers in November 2017. That was a significant departure from policy, Salmond says.
Why did it emerge then? Salmond asks.
Allan asks: Do you feel it right that former ministers should be held to account?
There is a huge difference between considered legislation, currently going through the Scottish parliament, and the spatchcock procedure over a matter of weeks introduced against former ministers.
It was “tainted by apparent bias”, Salmond says citing evidence to the Judicial Review.
There was also a procedural unfairness, Salmond says. However you look at it the policy was an “abject complete disaster”.
The SNP’s Alasdair Allan asks about work place culture in the Scottish government. What was you part in that culture?
Just because people say things, doesn’t make them true, Salmond says. There are now more complaints than when I was in office, Salmond points out. The culture and performance at the time was extremely good, Salmond says citing former permanent secretary, Peter Housden.
Wightman asks Salmond to clarify whether a complaint against him had been dealt with informally?
I’m entitled to rest on the verdict of the jury, Salmond says again.
Should there be procedure for dealing with complaints against former ministers?
It is difficult to make such a policy legal, Salmond says. The complaints could have been dealt with using the FAW policy in place at the time, not with a new policy for former ministers, he adds.
The origins for that policy came from “elsewhere”, Salmond says.
Wightman asks about Salmond’s claims about the retrospective nature of the new policy on complaints?
Salmond says such a change required consent and approval for those it would apply to. Former minister and first ministers were not consulted. The retrospective policy fell at the first hurdle, Salmond says. My legal advice was there were many grounds on which the policy would have fallen.
Former Green now independent MSP Andy Wightman asks: if you had been first minister in October 2017 how would you have responded to #MeToo?
Salmond says that after hearing views from colleagues he would have looked at existing policies. The FAW developed in 2009-10 took 18 months to draw up.
The atmosphere was more charged in 2017, which is all the more reason to look at the policy properly, Salmond says.
Cole-Hamilton Did you threaten to resign from the SNP in November 2017 after a possible Sky News story about harassment at Edinburgh airport?
The Sky News story was never broadcast. There was nothing to threaten resignation about, Salmond says.
Cole-Hamilton wants to ask about a complaint of harassment made at the time of the Scottish referendum. Did Nicola Sturgeon raise issues about your behaviour?
The answer is no, Salmond says. I was the most investigated politician in Scotland for 30 years. Nothing came of it because there was nothing there, he says.
The Lib Dem Alex Cole-Hamilton asks whether Salmond is sorry for his behaviour.
Over the the last three years there have been two cases on this issue.
Cole-Hamilton asks about ‘hairdryer’ talks to colleagues. (The convenor reminds him that Salmond is not on trial here.) Was your temper addressed by colleagues?
The First Division Association has complained that this committee has bullied civil servants. Just because someone says something doesn’t make it true, Salmond says.
Watt: Was FAW discussed by parliament?
It was discussed for years by unions.
Watt: I’ll take that as a no.
Was it typical for complaints to be dealt with with an apology?
I’ll leave these matters to the courts, Salmond says after being told he does not have to answer the question by the convenor.
Watt: wasn’t there need for a more robust policy?
Salmond says the unions thought the existing policy was adequate. If you are going to change the policy you need to understand the existing measures and consult with the unions which drew it up. FAW was regarded as a “considerable achievement” by the unions, Salmond says.
Instead last-minute changes were drawn up for the new policy on the day it was introduced, Salmond says.
Was there a problem of under-reporting?
Complaints have risen in the last few years. The new policy has ended in abject disaster as a result of not being properly drawn up, Salmond says.
If you had been first minister after MeToo, would you have introduced a new policy?
I don’t know, but I would not have thrown out a policy that was well regarded. FAW could have been strengthened and amended. The last thing you do is rush them through in “spatchcock fashion” without consultation with the unions.
The new policy was introduced with no discussion in cabinet or parliament, he says. I find that inexplicable.
The SNP’s Maureen Watt asks about the Scottish government’s response to the #MeToo movement. Was a policy on sexual harassment necessary in this context?
Salmond says the FAW already included provisions on harassment. Instead of reforming this a new policy was drawn up “at pace”, he says.
Wasn’t it better to start afresh?
Salmond reads from item one of FAW to point out it already dealt with harassment and bullying. Before you replace something you should understand what you are replacing, Salmond says.
The unions have not called for a new policy because it works well for the civil service, Salmond says.
Policy has to respond to circumstance, and be strengthened as necessary.
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