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Sturgeon: Alex Salmond sexual harassment claims 'could not be ignored'

Sturgeon: Alex Salmond sexual harassment claims 'could not be ignored'

Two people have made sexual harassment complaints against Scotland's former first minister Alex Salmond, his successor Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed.Ms Sturgeon said the complaints were made in January and were investigated through a process she had agreed to.She said the situation was "difficult for me to come to terms with" but the claims "could not be ignored".Mr Salmond strongly denies the allegations against him.He has described some of them as "patently ridiculous" and is taking legal action against the Scottish government over its handling of the complaints.
But the Scottish government claimed Mr Salmond's statement contained "significant errors", with Ms Sturgeon saying it would "defend its position vigorously".
Salmond denies sexual misconduct claims
Alex Salmond profile
The Daily Record says the allegations date back to December 2013, and that Mr Salmond has been reported to police over claims he sexually assaulted two staff members at the first minister's official residence at Bute House in Edinburgh.Police Scotland said it was "not going to comment on whether an inquiry is ongoing".Ms Sturgeon admitted she was "acutely aware how upsetting this will be" for the SNP, but stressed that "the complaints could not be ignored or swept under the carpet".Mr Salmond, who had two spells as leader of the pro-independence SNP, led the devolved Scottish government as first minister from 2007.He quit in the aftermath of the independence referendum in 2014, when Scotland voted to remain in the United Kingdom.
Nicola Sturgeon acted as Mr Salmond's deputy for many years before succeeding him as first minister and SNP leader in 2014
Ms Sturgeon confirmed: "Complaints were made in January relating to Alex Salmond by two individuals."These complaints have been considered since then under a procedure covering ministers and former ministers that was agreed by me in December 2017 in the wake of public concern about harassment."Although I have been aware for some time of the fact of the investigation - initially from Alex Salmond - I have had no role in the process, and to have referred to it before now would have compromised the integrity of the internal investigation, which I was not prepared to do."Ms Sturgeon said she had been told by the Scottish government's top civil servant, Leslie Evans, earlier this week that she had completed her investigation and that she intended to make the complaints public.
@AlexSalmond
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Sturgeon: Alex Salmond sexual harassment claims 'could not be ignored'

@AlexSalmond
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The first minister added: "Alex Salmond is now challenging the Scottish government's procedure in court. The Scottish government refutes his criticisms of its process and will defend its position vigorously."I have been clear on many occasions that all organisations and workplaces must make it possible for people to come forward to report concerns and have confidence that they will be treated seriously. "For that principle to mean anything it cannot be applied selectively. It must be applied without fear or favour, regardless of the identity, seniority or political allegiance of the person involved."
Mr Salmond has hosted a show on the controversial RT station since last November
Alex Salmond
Leader of Scottish National Party 1990-2000 and 2004-2014
First Minister of Scotland 2007 - 2014
Stood down after Scotland voted to remain in the United Kingdom
In his statement, Mr Salmond says he refutes all of the allegations against him. He did not say what the claims were, but described some of them as being "patently ridiculous".He also said that "on the advice of Senior Counsel" he had been complaining to Mrs Evans, the Scottish government's permanent secretary, that the complaints procedure was "unjust" and "unlawful".The permanent secretary is responsible for the Scottish government's 5,000 civil servants, and is the principal policy advisor to Ms Sturgeon.Mr Salmond said that "with great reluctance" he had now launched a judicial review against the Scottish government at the Court of Session.He said that if he lost the case he would have to answer to the complaints against him "both comprehensively and publicly". But he warned that "the administration at the senior levels of the Scottish government will have the most serious questions to answer" if the court finds in his favour.
'Tried everything'
Mr Salmond said: "Even now I have not been allowed to see and therefore to properly challenge the case against me."I have not been allowed to see the evidence. I have tried everything, including offers of conciliation, mediation and legal arbitration to resolve these matters both properly and amicably. "This would have been in everybody's interests, particularly those of the two complainants. All of these efforts have been rejected."Mr Salmond was elected as the SNP MP for Gordon in 2015 before losing the seat in the snap general election two years later. He has faced heavy criticism for hosting the Alex Salmond Show on Russian broadcaster RT, which has been described as a propaganda channel for the Kremlin - a claim Mr Salmond has denied.
Nicola Sturgeon
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