ALEX Salmond has accused Nicola Sturgeon’s husband and others close to her of being part of a plot to destroy his reputation and even send him to jail.
In an extraordinary dossier published tonight by the Scottish Parliament, the former First Minister named a series of individuals he said had tried to ruin him.
He said the evidence supported “a deliberate, prolonged, malicious and concerted effort amongst a range of individuals within the Scottish Government and the SNP to damage my reputation, even to the extent of having me imprisoned.
“That includes, for the avoidance of doubt, Peter Murrell ([SNP] Chief Executive), Ian McCann (Compliance officer) and Sue Ruddick (Chief Operating Officer) of the SNP together with Liz Lloyd, the First Minister’s Chief of Staff.
“There are others who, for legal reasons, I am not allowed to name.”
Mr Murrell, the SNP’s most senior official, has been married to Ms Sturgeon since 2010.
Mr Salmond makes the claims in a final submission to the Holyrood inquiry into what has become known as the Salmond inquiry.
MSPs are looking at how the Scottish Government bungled a probe into sexual misconduct claims made against Mr Salmond in 2018.
He had the exercise set aside in a judicial review, showing it was “tainted by apparent bias”, a Government flaw that left taxpayers with a £512,000 bill for his costs.
He was later charged with sexual assault but cleared of all counts at a High Court trial last March.
After the verdict, Mr Salmond said he wanted to air evidence obtained for his defence which he had been unable to present to the jury for legal reasons.
He has since tried to share the same confidential material with the inquiry, but been warned by the Crown Office that he risks prosecution if he does so.
In his new submission, Mr Salmond, who is due to testify to the inquiry on Wednesday, said the most compelling evidence of a plot was being withheld from MSPs by the Crown Office, despite a formal demand to hand over relevant documents.
He said the material included “text messages which could be properly considered and
published… and would bear directly on the veracity of evidence given under oath” to MSPs.
He said the plot to prosecute and potentially jail him had been driven by his victory in the judicial review, which left people close to Ms Sturgeon afraid of losing their jobs.
He said: “The First Minister’s team felt threatened by the process as did the civil service.
“The documentary evidence shows that special advisers were using civil servants and
working with SNP officials in a fishing expedition to recruit potential complainants.
“This activity was taking place from late August 2018 to January 2019, after the police
investigation had started.
He added: “Mr Murrell deployed his senior staff to recruit and persuade staff and ex staff members to submit police complaints.
“This activity was being coordinated with [Ms Sturgeon’s] special advisers and was occurring after the police investigation had started and after I ceased to be a member of the SNP.”
He said the Crown Office withholding the evidence of this had “nothing whatsoever” to do with protecting the anonymity of women who made complaints against him.
“Rather, it is a matter of the shielding of some of the most powerful people in the country who are acutely aware of how exposed they would become.”
He went on: “That decision is frankly disgraceful. Refusing to allow the Committee to see that material both denies me the opportunity to put the full truth before the Committee and the public, and makes it impossible for the Committee to complete its task on a full sight of the relevant material.
“The only beneficiaries of that decision to withhold evidence are those involved in conduct
designed to damage (and indeed imprison) me.”
Mr Salmond also criticised the Lord Advocate, James Wolffe QC, for failing to agree to the release of the Government’s legal advice on the judicial review.
He said: “The Lord Advocate is deeply compromised between his twin roles as head of prosecutions and chief government legal adviser.
“The Crown Office under current leadership is a department simply not fit for purpose.”
Mr Salmond claimed Ms Lloyd had drafted a specific change to the Government procedure used against him in 2018 to ensure it included “former ministers” as well as current ones.
Mr Salmond also made repeated criticisms of the Scottish Government’s top civil servant, the Permanent Secretary Leslie Evans, as the created of the Government complaints procedure used against him.
Concluding, he urged the inquiry to make heads roll.
He said: “The real cost to the Scottish people runs into many millions of pounds and yet no-one in this entire process has uttered the simple words which are necessary on occasions to renew and refresh democratic institutions – ‘I Resign.
“The Committee now has the opportunity to address that position.”
Ms Sturgeon, Mr Murrell and Ms Lloyd have all denied any conspiracy against Mr Salmond.
An SNP spokesperson said: “This is just more assertion without a shred of credible evidence.
“Several of the women have already made clear how utterly absurd it is to suggest they were part of a conspiracy to bring him down. And yet Alex Salmond is still making these ridiculous and baseless claims and lashing out at all and sundry.
“People who supported him loyally for years and worked tirelessly to get him elected don’t deserve these smears. And women who made complaints about his behaviour – who barely merit a mention in his conspiracy dossier – most certainly deserve better.”