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Sturgeon's 'sadness' as Salmond resigns after harassment claims

By Alix Culbertson, news reporter
Alex Salmond has resigned from the SNP after two people accused Scotland's former first minister of sexually harassing them.
The 63-year-old said he "refutes" the complaints and "absolutely rejects" any suggestion of criminality.He said he was stepping down after 45 years of service to protect the party from being attacked by the opposition over the matter before parliament returns next week and to prevent any "internal division" if he was suspended.His resignation comes less than 24 hours after he formally launched a legal case against the Scottish government over its handling of the sexual misconduct complaints against him.
Sturgeon's 'sadness' as Salmond resigns after harassment claims

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Mr Salmond has been a member of the SNP for 45 years
Current first minister Nicola Sturgeon said she felt "a huge sadness" about the situation as Mr Salmond has been "my friend and mentor" for almost 30 years.However, she said she understood why he was resigning but could not ignore that two complaints were made.Mr Salmond set up a crowdfunding page to raise 50,000 for his legal case, raising more than his target within four hours.Mr Salmond's SNP colleagues defended him over his request for money from the public to pay for the judicial review in his resignation letter but Scottish Labour accused him of "abusing his power and dragging Scotland into the gutter".
Scottish Conservative MSP Annie Wells on news Alex Salmond has quit the SNP and launched his own fundraising drive for legal action against the Scottish Government. pic.twitter.com/kxIkY4rbzC ScotConservatives (@ScotTories) August 29, 2018
The Scottish Conservatives said he has "some brass neck" for "an independently wealthy man" to ask for cash while "plunging the government he used to lead into chaos".The two harassment complaints are reported to date from Mr Salmond's time as first minister, a position he held from 2007 to 2014, when Ms Sturgeon took over.
Sturgeon's 'sadness' as Salmond resigns after harassment claims

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Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond have been friends for a long time
Announcing his resignation on Twitter, Mr Salmond said, while he believed harassment claims should be treated seriously, he had concerns with the way information had come out."Confidentiality has been broken greatly to my detriment and in a way which puts at serious risk the anonymity of both complainants," he said."It urgently needs to be established who breached that duty of confidence and why."He said it is "obvious" that Ms Sturgeon is "under pressure" from other political parties to suspend him, "given recent party precedents".Mr Salmond added that he has "always thought it a very poor idea to suspend any party member on the basis of complaints and allegations" as the UK abides by the concept of innocent until proven guilty.
Statement. pic.twitter.com/PrNfXPCfKx Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) August 29, 2018
Former deputy SNP leader Jim Sillars told Sky News he thought Mr Salmond had done the right thing by resigning as he has "taken Nicola Sturgeon off the hook" as calls for his suspension by opposition parties would otherwise dominate the Scottish Parliament on its return."It's very sad that it's happened," he told Sky News."I've had my differences with Alex over many years but he's made a significant contribution to the SNP and the independence movement.
"Many people in Scotland will be sad tonight. We can't replace Alex until a new generation emerges."People will feel very demoralised."He added that he thought a "huge amount" of people will contribute to the judicial review as "Alex doesn't have inherited wealth".
Sturgeon's 'sadness' as Salmond resigns after harassment claims

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Jim Sillars (r) said many people in Scotland will be sad to hear about Mr Salmond's resignation
Mr Salmond said that "apart from a political spat back in the 1980s" he has been a member of the SNP continuously for 45 years, 20 of them as leader and seven as first minister of Scotland.The politician was suspended from the SNP when the 79 Group, a socialist republican organisation within the SNP, was banned from the larger party in 1982."I hope I have done the party and the broader cause of independence some service," he said."I truly love the SNP and the wider independence movement in Scotland. They have been the defining commitment of my life."
pic.twitter.com/XSlZmDTDen Rhoda Grant (@RhodaGrant) August 29, 2018
But, he said it is his "absolute intention" to reapply for SNP membership when he has had "the opportunity" to clear his name - which he hopes to do by the end of the year."In the meantime I would urge no one else to relinquish their SNP membership," he added.The judicial review he is asking the public to fund relates to a new complaints procedure introduced by the Scottish government in December.The government has said it will "defend our position vigorously".
Sturgeon's 'sadness' as Salmond resigns after harassment claims

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Mr Salmond is accused of sexual harassment by two people
The complaints about Mr Salmond were made in January, just weeks after the new harassment complaints procedure was introduced - with Ms Sturgeon's stamp of approval.Ms Sturgeon has admitted her relationship with Mr Salmond has left her in an "extremely difficult situation" and the case would be "upsetting" for the SNP.But, she added the complaints "could not be ignored or swept under the carpet".
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The Scottish Conservatives spokeswoman, Annie Wells MSP, questioned "what has happened to the voices" of the two people who brought serious complaints against Mr Salmond.The Scottish Labour Party's business manager and women's spokeswoman, Rhoda Grant, said that asking for money to fund a case "ultimately linked to sexual harassment" sends a signal to the two who brought the allegations that "he has the upper hand".
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