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Scotland’s failed #MeToo moment The Alex Salmond inquiry has become about whether he, not his accusers, was victimised

There are no villains or heroes in this case. Credit: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

There are no villains or heroes in this case. Credit: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images


March 10, 2021   4 mins

It’s a knackered old truism that sexual harassment cases are about power rather than sex, but it fairly applies to the current circus around allegations against Alex Salmond. The former first minister was acquitted on 13 charges of rape, sexual assault, indecent assault and attempt to rape following a trial in 2020; the handling of that case is currently the subject of an inquiry at Holyrood. The question is, whose power over whom?

Is this about a senior male politician’s power over the women beneath him in party and government? Did his heir as FM and SNP leader, Nicola Sturgeon, act with honest feminist intentions throughout her involvement in the case? Or is this a situation whereby a former protegee saw her chance to neutralise her predecessor and gracelessly jumped on it, making a hash of justice in the process?

A key part of Salmond’s defence was the invocation of a plot intended to bring him down. His QC was overheard on a train saying that he intended to “put a smell” on the accusers, and whether or not that was the strategy that secured Salmond’s acquittal, it was a strategy that worked: “he is not guilty” does not equate to “she lied”, but Salmond’s fans on social media have no compunction about drawing that conclusion and stating it in the most misogynistic terms.

On the other hand, if Salmond’s defenders are just a clique falling in line behind old privilege, what to make of the involvement of someone such as Joanna Cherry, who has been an outspoken defender of feminism on the gender identity issue? Here, though, she takes the part of the accused man over the women who accused him.

Those accusations may have failed to meet the burden of proof for criminal conviction, but they added up to a coherent and consistent picture of at the very least inappropriate behaviour. As Dani Garavelli, who covered the whole trial, wrote: “much of the evidence was He said, She said. Or rather He said, She said, She said, She said.” And if Salmond thinks he was failed by the system, his accusers have been too, and badly. One of the worst allegations to come out of the Holyrood inquiry is that one accuser was identified to Salmond’s allies.

There’s something deeply unsatisfying about a set of circumstances that refuses to be reduced to easily identifiable heroes and villains. How you read this tangle depends to a large degree on where you’re aligned on the SNP’s internal split between Salmond and Sturgeon. So if you don’t have an alignment, the whole matter appears hopelessly opaque — and since most people aren’t SNP members at all, the temptation to dismiss this as an impenetrable party dispute of no wider significance is great.

Great, and wrong. This was not Scotland’s #MeToo moment, but maybe it was a lesson in the limits of justice. The Salmond case left a scratchy, inconclusive feeling. He was not guilty, but nor was his reputation wholly vindicated. For his alleged victims, there was no restitution, despite the uncontested fact that Salmond had crossed several lines, albeit not lawbreaking ones.

The repercussions reach far wider than the courtroom. For women who recognised their own experience in the testimony — the boss who keeps you for a drink, who strokes your face, who slithers his hands beneath your clothes — the trial served as a warning against ever seeking redress. Garavelli noted that Salmond’s QC’s closing submission “appeared to play to male fears about past behaviour. How did things that people thought nothing of later find themselves on a charge sheet, he wondered. ‘It’s scary, scary stuff.’ A couple of jurors nodded along.”

But even without this, most victims of sexual assault already know that the courtroom will be a hostile environment. In the service of getting to the truth, their reputations will be attacked, their motivations impugned, their accounts of their own lives recast as fiction by the defence. Their private messages picked over, humiliatingly, for any one thing that could be used to undermine them with a jury.

The law is an especially cruel instrument for assessing sexual crime, because a rape conviction requires the jury to agree not only that a man penetrated (or attempted to penetrate her) against her will, but that he could not have “reasonably believed” that she consented.

Internal institutional processes — HR departments, political parties’ own investigations — don’t have to meet the high bar of criminal proceedings, but they still have to be robust and independent to be effective. Instead, formal responses to #MeToo have been piecemeal and erratic. That’s most obviously been bad for those men who’ve had the misfortune to take the brunt of wild justice in the pushback against sexual harassment.

But while it’s impossible not to feel pangs for men such as Mark Tunison, whose career was torpedoed by his inclusion on the “Shitty Media Men” list, due process isn’t something that’s only owed to alleged perpetrators. Women like Salmond’s accusers who seek justice for past wrongs and security against future ones can achieve neither without a system that can deliver solid judgements and stand up to scrutiny.

Long before the Salmond case could come to court, the kinds of grey-area-blurring things that he accepted he had done should have been dealt with by the SNP and Holyrood. A concerning admission from Sturgeon’s evidence to the Salmond inquiry is that as long ago as 2017, she had a “lingering fear” that allegations about his conduct would be made public.

And so, while I can see the irony in (as Sonia Sodha put it in the Observer) “a woman being held to account for a man’s transgressions”, this is about power not sex. If the processes of the party Sturgeon ran and the government she led weren’t fit for purpose, the buck would have to stop with her.

Salmond’s QC’s closing argument landed with the jurors because he had a half-point: #MeToo has forced a reassessment of actions once accepted. That does not mean that women are retconning cheerful-at-the-time sexual experiences as acts of violence. It means that they are, in many cases, refusing to go on telling the lie that something was OK when it was always wrong. It means that the encounter which hurt and degraded you is no longer something you bury in shame and self-reproach. Instead, you can look at it and say: I never wanted this, and this was never fair.

That’s a cultural shift, and a significant one for individual women. But it’s only half a reformation. The other half is the hard bit: ensuring the legal, judicial and tribunal processes can truly handle allegations of sexual misconduct. And there are a lot of these to get through: almost all young women, and 80% of all women, say they’ve experienced sexual harassment. The Salmond inquiry will tend, inevitably, to become about the question of whether or not he was a victim of machinations. But whatever that conclusion, the women who accused him are already victims of a broken system.


Sarah Ditum is a columnist, critic and feature writer.

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Andrea X
Andrea X
3 years ago

So, according to the author Salmond should have been found guilty, put to the rack and possibly executed?
Anything less would have failed the metoo movement (whatever that is)? And what about the woman who seems to have committed perjury, but was never investigated?
If the gossip I read here and there is true, the “victims” are a group (or is it a clique?) of well connected and powerful women, not some kind of 20 year old intern.
This all affair sheds a lot of light on the murky workings of the Scottish government. As to the rest, I don’t really care.

Last edited 3 years ago by Andrea X
Tom Fox
Tom Fox
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrea X

put to the rack and possibly executed?”

Don’t be ridiculous.

Salmond behaved disgracefully. So did his defence. ‘All I need to do is to put a smell on them.’

Andrea X
Andrea X
3 years ago
Reply to  Tom Fox

As I said in my other reply to you, this is what a defence lawyer is paid to do, just like the crown is paid to do theirs.
Why did we bother with a trial at all? Just go lynch him.

Tom Fox
Tom Fox
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrea X

Once again you descend into hyperbolic stupidity. No one but YOU suggested torture or execution. Sheer idiocy.

Lee Johnson
Lee Johnson
3 years ago
Reply to  Tom Fox

How disgracefully? unintentiponal, anappropriate, sleezy, manpulative, unforgivable, rape or brutal rape ?
Is sexual misdemeanour binary OK / linch the rotter ?

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
3 years ago
Reply to  Lee Johnson

He’s probably a rotter. He doesn’t seem bad enough for jail but he’s not the best representative of male behaviour.

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
3 years ago
Reply to  Tom Fox

I agree, I think this was a perfectly fair article. There doesn’t seem much doubt that had the SNP acted properly earlier Salmond would have faced censure. Nobody seems to defend him as a consummate gentleman.
But, as the article discusses, it doesn’t mean he was criminally guilty. Nor does it mean that they weren’t out to get him.
I suspect that the complainants had reason to complain and they haven’t had a fair deal. That’s life, there’s not much to be done. Guilt rightly must pass a high threshold of evidence.

Matthew Powell
Matthew Powell
3 years ago

My main take from the Salmond affair is the pernicious way MeToo has become a tool for attacking personal and political enemies through the courts.

The fact that it appears that Salmond’s accusers were happy to escalate a series of incidents to have a political rival falsely imprisoned, seems to me to be far more of a threat to a free society, than Salmond’s behaviour which was deemed inappropriate but not illegal.

Last edited 3 years ago by Matthew Powell
Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
3 years ago

He was not guilty, but nor was his reputation wholly vindicated. For his alleged victims, there was no restitution, despite the uncontested fact that Salmond had crossed several lines, albeit not lawbreaking ones.
In terms of justice for everybody, Scotland probably has the best legal system in the UK because of its third possible verdict, – Not Proven. So, in Scotland, Not Guilty tends to mean what it says.
But even without this, most victims of sexual assault already know that the courtroom will be a hostile environment. In the service of getting to the truth, their reputations will be attacked, their motivations impugned, their accounts of their own lives recast as fiction by the defence. Their private messages picked over, humiliatingly, for any one thing that could be used to undermine them with a jury.
Does this mean that men don’t find the courtroom hostile or simply that no-one takes the man’s view. It seems to me that many people are getting money to protect women, to stand up for women as special people. But nobody stands up for the men. That is sexist in the extreme.
And there are a lot of these to get through: almost all young women, and 80% of all women, say they’ve experienced sexual harassment.
Does this mean that their allegations are automatically true? Why bother with a trial?

Andrea X
Andrea X
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

If memory serves me right, he has 1 “not proven”, relating to the woman he apologized to, and all the others are “not guilty”.

Chris Mochan
Chris Mochan
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Not proven and not guilty are de facto the same disposal and I think its time we got rid of it. A not guilty verdict simply means that the case wasn’t proven, juries make no findings on the actual innocence of the defendant in those circumstances. As a Scot, I personally think its outrageous that a jury is allowed to essentially say there is an insufficiency of evidence but we still think you did it, that is not the role of a jury and nor should it be.

Gerry Quinn
Gerry Quinn
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Mochan

It’s the role of a Scottish jury. The concept has pros and cons.

Samuel Gee
Samuel Gee
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Mochan

It’s not outrageous at all. The jury is asked whether they think a defendant is guilty of the actual offence as charged and beyond a reasonable doubt. So it is absolutely proper for a not guilty verdict to be given by a jury even if they all think the defendant probably did do it but they are not totally certain.
It’s for the Crown to prove a defendant is guilty beyond any reasonable doubt. That’s not “probably guilty” Though they might think he is. That is absolutely not enough.
Hence we don’t have a verdict of “innocent”. The defendant does not need to prove they are innocent nor does the jury need to believe they are innocent. That’s not what they are being asked.

Chris Mochan
Chris Mochan
3 years ago
Reply to  Samuel Gee

That’s exactly my point, they’re asked to decide if there is enough evidence to convict as guilty. If there isn’t then they are not guilty. That’s it. They definitely should not be allowed to return a verdict that says there is insufficient evidence to convict but we still think they did it, because that isn’t their role.

Gordon Black
Gordon Black
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Mochan

In Scotland it is their role.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Do you know what the cost implications are for a ‘not proven’ case?

Tom Fox
Tom Fox
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

This is not about a single complainant and the possibility that she may have made something up. There was a surprising number of complainants and even before the trial, a rule had had to be put in place to prevent him from requiring women to work at the residence in the evenings because his reputation was so bad.
I was both appalled and amazed that he walked out of the court with that verdict. The remark recorded on a train made by his defence council that all he needed to do was to put a smell on them (the women) is both shocking and disgraceful. It certainly worked.

Last edited 3 years ago by Tom Fox
Mark H
Mark H
3 years ago
Reply to  Tom Fox

It probably didn’t help that one of the complainants was proven to have been elsewhere on the day she claimed to have been assaulted by Salmond.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark H

Surely a charge of Perjury is therefore warranted?
Or don’t they ‘do’ Perjury in Scotland?

Last edited 3 years ago by Charles Stanhope
John Munro
John Munro
3 years ago

Perjury is rarely ever pursued against unsuccessful complainants in cases.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago
Reply to  John Munro

That sounds like a ‘licence to lie’.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
3 years ago

You would think so, yes, but cases of potential perjury in a criminal trial are usually only investigated if the judge recommends it.

Andrea X
Andrea X
3 years ago
Reply to  Tom Fox

My understanding is that police had interviewed pretty much EVERY woman he has been in touch with, but hasn’t come up with much.

OK, he is “tactile”, so what?

Chris Lambert
Chris Lambert
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrea X

I often wonder what the response from all these women would have been like if he had been a Brad Pitt lookalike.

Chris Stapleton
Chris Stapleton
3 years ago

most victims of sexual assault already know that the courtroom will be a hostile environment“, but they are not “victims”, unless or until a jury finds the accused guilty. Nice try though.

Tom Fox
Tom Fox
3 years ago

Ah – you think that because a court is tricked into finding a defendant not guilty that means there were no victims???? You may need to spend some time watching proceedings in court.

Johnny Sutherland
Johnny Sutherland
3 years ago
Reply to  Tom Fox

Of course there was a victim – Salmond.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago

He was in the words of William Dunbar c**t bitten.

Andrea X
Andrea X
3 years ago
Reply to  Tom Fox

So, Salmond is guilty disregarding of any criminal trial. Why bother then, just accept what the alphabet women have to say.

Steve Hall
Steve Hall
3 years ago

Now repeat after me – women are never scheming liars, they are always innocent victims. All sexual approaches by men are about power. Two legs bad, four legs good. Tell you what, the law isn’t perfect, but thank heavens we still have trial by due process and not by feminism or some other redundant Manichean ideology.

Last edited 3 years ago by Steve Hall
Chris Mochan
Chris Mochan
3 years ago

“His QC was overheard on a train saying that he intended to “put a smell” on the accusers, and whether or not that was the strategy that secured Salmond’s acquittal, it was a strategy that worked”
There are a couple of problems here.
1) Overheard on a train is about as flimsy as it gets. We can’t seriously be expected to take that at face value.
2) Whether or not it was the strategy, the strategy worked? If it wasn’t the strategy then how can it be said to have worked?
“For his alleged victims, there was no restitution, despite the uncontested fact that Salmond had crossed several lines, albeit not lawbreaking ones.”
This is true and certainly we can all look forward to a day when such loathsome behaviour is a thing of the past, but if it wasn’t against the law then what the hell are we doing having a trial? This gets the heart of the scandal because what Salmond is contending is that senior SNP figures conspired to maliciously raise a prosecution.

Tom Fox
Tom Fox
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Mochan

“1) Overheard on a train is about as flimsy as it gets. We can’t seriously be expected to take that at face value.”
It was recorded. I’ve seen the video. That is exactly what was said.
Watch and listen here:
https://www.thescottishsun.co.uk/news/5438216/alex-salmond-gordon-jackson-video/

Last edited 3 years ago by Tom Fox
Andrea X
Andrea X
3 years ago
Reply to  Tom Fox

What is your point exactly? The defence lawyer does his job, just as the crown does theirs.

Last edited 3 years ago by Andrea X
Pierre Pendre
Pierre Pendre
3 years ago
Reply to  Tom Fox

He said it. So what. You might not like the wording but all he meant was that he wanted to discredit the women’s stories which it was his job to do. QCs of both sexes treat witnesses including women roughly as part of a day’s work. What Jackson said during an eavesdropped conversation had no bearing whatsoever on Salmond’s guilt no matter how much Sturgeon fans wish it did.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
3 years ago

Too little said about Sturgeon in this piece.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

It has long been obvious that this is a very fishy tale, as befitting the names of those involved. I suspect that Alex was a little ‘hands on’ from time to time after a few drinks, and for some or other political reason there was an attempt to bring him down on that basis. As usual when it comes to these people, they are all as bad as each other.

Tom Fox
Tom Fox
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

I doubt that women who were wrestled onto a bed and lain on by their boss against their will are as bad as he is. You often make bizarre remarks, but this one reaches new heights of insanity.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago
Reply to  Tom Fox

The Jury obviously didn’t think so.
Incidentally have you ever sat on of a Jury for a serious or even capital case?

Last edited 3 years ago by Charles Stanhope
Brian Dorsley
Brian Dorsley
3 years ago
Reply to  Tom Fox

I’ve had some women do worse to me.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago
Reply to  Brian Dorsley

Poor chap!

David Uzzaman
David Uzzaman
3 years ago

I’ve never admired Mr Salmond but he was tried by a jury who heard all the evidence which the prosecution could muster against him. There were nine women who alleged fourteen different offences against him. The jury did not convict him. Many men have been convicted on the evidence of a single woman so for a jury to refuse a conviction on the evidence of nine women is astonishing. I wasn’t in that jury room and neither were any of the journalists who have written extensively since but it’s clear that the jury didn’t believe Mr Salmond was guilty of the offences he was charged with. This isn’t the usual he said, she said case.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago
Reply to  David Uzzaman

What about Perjury in all this?
Surely there must be case against these nine women, who ‘evidence’ the Jury so roundly rejected?

David Uzzaman
David Uzzaman
3 years ago

Perjury is an ugly word. I understand that the correct term is that recollections may vary.

Last edited 3 years ago by David Uzzaman
Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago
Reply to  David Uzzaman

Does that only apply to women of the species, something to do with PMT perhaps?

Nick Whitehouse
Nick Whitehouse
3 years ago

the women who accused him are already victims of a broken system”
The names of the women are kept secret. The man’s name is widely published. The man was declared innocent in a jury trial.
Why are the women victims in any sense?
Surely it is the man who is the victim?
Sarah, you seem to believe anything a women says is true and, no doubt that a man is automatically guilty?

David Bottomley
David Bottomley
3 years ago

The general take home message from this is: all men need to take care to never be alone with any women unless you know her well and have great confidence in her total honesty and integrity

Andrea X
Andrea X
3 years ago

And even then… It is a bit like finding yourself alone for any length of time with a child.

Johnny Sutherland
Johnny Sutherland
3 years ago

The women are automatically correct and their identities protected (apart from the one carelessly dropped). Alex Salmond’s name has been spread far and wide in connection with the case.

You seem to have the opinion that because its several “she said” to only the one “he said” that the “she said’s” must be right – why?

Is this the same sort of approach as NS’s evidence to the the inquiry where much was said about failing the women involved with the implication that Salmond was guilty regardless of what the courts say and that he should have apologised for not being guilty (not sure there she said so little with so many words).

Last edited 3 years ago by Johnny Sutherland
Peter Kriens
Peter Kriens
3 years ago

Maybe it is time to segregate the workplace by sex?
Clearly many men are awful, as are many women. However, we will never have a society where everybody is pleasant and nice, this is not the private sphere where family and community relations provide the gentle hand for us to act in the interest of others. The far far majority of men behave well, and the small minority of assholes will not behave regardless what society thinks or says. We have very strict laws against murder and still they happen every day in every society.
This is the public sphere where we compete. If you read these whining articles you get the impression that the female authors all believe in some kind of patriarch who can decide that no more women will be harassed ever. It is just his unwillingness that we are still in the merde. A bizarre thought, especially for a feminist.
The public sphere can be brutal, it is not your living room. The people you meet are out to take what you have, as should you be. And this is not bad, it works for the greater benefit of society in the long run.
We cannot chaperone every woman nor can we expect men to hold back their competitive skills in the fear of accidentally ‘harassing’ or insulting a woman. Being able to go all out in that competition is immense valuable to society find out what has value and what has not. We have clear laws about violence and sexual harassment. If you’re so vulnerable that those laws are not sufficient, then maybe the public space is not for you? We cannot change the public space because a few vulnerable woman can’t handle it, it has worked too well so far.
I am getting so tired of these one sided articles. Lets just provide workplaces for women that want to be ‘safe’ from men. Men do not need a separate work place since they tend to be not so neurotic (on average); women that can stand their man are more than welcome.

Andrea X
Andrea X
3 years ago
Reply to  Peter Kriens

The only problem is how you define “sex”.

Ralph Hanke
Ralph Hanke
3 years ago
Reply to  Peter Kriens

Peter, you make excellent points. I do not agree, however, that “Being able to go all out in that competition is immense (sic) valuable to society.”
I think intense collaboration would be much better for society. Yes, no doubt competition works; perhaps once learn how to collaborate very well, we will see that it is more desirable than competition as a foundation for society.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Ralph Hanke

There was an interesting point made by Jordan Peterson in his recent talk with Bret Weinstein. He suggested that one of the virtues of capitalism was that it directed the focus of the highly competitive away from the sphere of violence/warfare etc and towards the economic sphere. I don’t suppose it holds true all of the time, and you only have to look at the way in which US politicians compete with each other to blow up various people and countries to see that the violence/warfare instinct can take hold in a capitalist society. But perhaps, in this way, capitalism has prevented a few wars and saved a few lives.

Ralph Hanke
Ralph Hanke
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Interesting idea. Thanks for the food for thought.

Claire D
Claire D
3 years ago
Reply to  Peter Kriens

Excellent comment, I (almost) entirely agree with you.

Last edited 3 years ago by Claire D
Claire D
Claire D
3 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

Wiped this.

Last edited 3 years ago by Claire D
Diana Durham
Diana Durham
3 years ago

Nicola Sturgeon’s own character and actions undermine my belief that there was anything but a desire to manipulate the MeToo claims.

Claire D
Claire D
3 years ago

The rule of law is one of our most valuable achievements. Life is complicated and messy and the rule of law straightens complicated messy matters out in as fair a way as is humanly possible.

Salmond’s case was tried in court, he was found ‘not guilty’.
Maybe he was touchy feely, I don’t know, but if I worked for a man who gave me the creeps and he overstepped the mark in some way, I’d leave, get away, find another job, warn my friends.
#MeToo encourages women to abandon their autonomy in favour of retribution and protection. Young people are growing up with the mistaken belief that the world ought to be safe, as safe as they would like it to be so they can do whatever they like and run no risk of harm. To create a world this safe will mean giving up basic freedoms, at the very least it will mean 24 hour surveillance and compromising the rule of law, which would have dire consequences for all of us.

Laws and our civic way of life give us basic protections but the world remains a dangerous place, there are bad people out there, predators – not many, but enough always that we must all, men and women be alert for danger. This reality is not helped by the liberal dream of a safe, equal utopian society, with the consequent gradual movement towards soft totalitarianism that we are experiencing.

If women want to hold onto their freedom and autonomy then they must be prepared to take responsibility for themselves. Bad things will still happen sometimes unfortunately, but perhaps not as much.

Last edited 3 years ago by Claire D
Andrea X
Andrea X
3 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

Amen!!
+10

Pierre Pendre
Pierre Pendre
3 years ago

In this case it was all about political power; the sexual aspect was instrumental. Salmond still has a strong following within the SNP and it was necessary for Sturgeon (and her husband who runs the SNP) to secure her power after 2014 not only as leader but as arbiter of the timing for Indyref2.
From what I gather, Sturgeon sensibly wants to keep enthusiasm for independence stoked while biding her time on calling another refo until she’s sure she’ll win. Were she to lose, independence really would be dead for a generation.
The Salmondista tendancy – and I don’t know if he agrees with them – want a quick refo, by the end of this year if possible, to take advantage of favourable polls. The SNP had a huge influx of new members after the 2014 defeat which changed the balance within the party and not necessarily in Sturgeon’s favour.
Hence the conspiracy to decredibilise Salmond. It took a lot of organisation and finagling to get the nine women, the police and the crown prosecution behind the Salmond case; it succeeded only to fail in court.
This much is known, the only question remaining being whether Sturgeon knew and when and whether it was this that required her to lie (which is not yet proven) to the Scottish parliament. The outcome is that Sturgeon supporters have defanged any personal political threat from Salmond but have left her badly damaged.
She’s said she won’t resign even if it shown she did lie but she has been weakened and will have to fight all the harder to contain the fratricide in the SNP. What began as a coup to destroy a possible political threat has left nine women as collateral damage and seriously undermined the credibility of the centralised Scottish police and the crown office.

Mark H
Mark H
3 years ago
Reply to  Pierre Pendre

Your last point is important – the accusers in the criminal case have become collateral damage – as much used by the SNP as they were subjected to creepy behaviour by Salmond.
As you say, it’s not clear just how much Sturgeon is mixed up in this. What is clear is the attacks on due process by the crown office under direction of the Lord Advocate. We now know that the Scot govt chose to persist with their doomed opposition to the Judicial Review based on advice from LA and possibly solicitor general, and against advice from their external counsel. Crown office has been instrumental in resisting disclosure of evidence to the parliamentary committee.
It’s not a pretty picture that is emerging – Sturgeon is not in control of the actions of her own government, or lying, or both.

Last edited 3 years ago by Mark H
Andrea X
Andrea X
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark H

It does make you wonder who runs things in Scotland. Salmond might by unctuous, but the Lord Advocate is a real creep!

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrea X

Exactly, an absolute disgrace for the whole Scotch judicial system .

Last edited 3 years ago by Charles Stanhope
Nun Yerbizness
Nun Yerbizness
3 years ago
Reply to  Pierre Pendre

“In this case it was all about political power;…necessary for Sturgeon (and her husband who runs the SNP) to secure her power after 2014 not only as leader but as arbiter of the timing for Indyref2.”
you are half right.
the last six months of media attention from England’s conservative press and those whose economic viability depends on the remenants of the UK [BBC] not gaining independence is self serving as they create deflection and misdirection from Scotland recaputuring its independence after 315 years of second class citizenship.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago
Reply to  Nun Yerbizness

..

Last edited 3 years ago by Charles Stanhope
Mark H
Mark H
3 years ago

The current inquiry is entirely about the SNP (or is it Scottish govt… the lines are so blurred) mishandling of the internal investigation into Salmond and consequent judicial review.
The SNP is trying desperately to turn it into a re-hash of Salmond’s trial, to deflect attention from that blurred boundary between party and government and the possibility that there are resulting breaches of the ministerial code.
There is another dimension that doesn’t get nearly enough attention from the press – if Salmond was really as toxic as Sturgeon claims, how could she not see this despite being a young woman under his mentorship? It’s ugly for Sturgeon either way – either she is bigging up bad behaviour by her mentor, or turned a blind eye to worse behaviour when it was politically convenient to her.
What I would like to know is whether the Scottish government procedure that was used against Salmond has ever been deployed against another politician? Bear in mind that the judicial review didn’t find that the procedure was unlawful in itself, just that the process was unfair to Salmond because the investigating officer had prior contact with the complainants.
If it has been used to investigate other historical sexual harassment claims, then the conclusion is that it’s bona-fide. Otherwise it looks very much like a hastily made-up Salmond targeting device.
Even if it were the case that Salmond was a sex criminal, the questions about Scottish government/SNP actions would remain. Getting a just outcome by unjust means remains unethical.
NB to make it clear, I detest Salmond and fully believe what his lawyer was hear to say about him being a hole and pest. But still, two wrongs don’t make a right.

Joe Donovan
Joe Donovan
3 years ago

I know nothing of this particular case. Surely Sarah is right that both accused men and accusing women can be victimized in these proceedings, as well as in HR tribunals.
I like to think about Willie Brown’s first sexual approach to our vice president. Was it “creepy?” Was it “horrifying?” Was it “traumatizing?” Apparently Kamala weighed everything in the balance and decided that sexual congress might get her in due time into the other congress and beyond. Voila!

M Spahn
M Spahn
3 years ago

It is not true that rape is about power, not sex, and repeating it endlessly doesn’t make it any more true or less self-evidently stupid. Of course it is about both of those things in tandem. Given how often sex and power are inextricably linked, I should not even have to state this.

john dann
john dann
3 years ago

A very one sided article. Clearly the author did not follow the trial, nor mention that judge was female as was most of the jury. Nor mention the disgraceful attempt to silence Craig Murray with threat of jail for covering the trial as a real journo ought. The power here is all in the hands of Nicola Sturgeon. She may well have to resign for her part in this scandal, though the cover-up continues.

Andrea X
Andrea X
3 years ago
Reply to  john dann

You wish…

Henneli Greyling
Henneli Greyling
3 years ago

It’s a sick story whichever way you look at it.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago

Correct, but that is modern Scotland for you.

Brian Dorsley
Brian Dorsley
3 years ago

We live in a time where even raising mild contradiction to a woman is deemed sexual harassment.

Last edited 3 years ago by Brian Dorsley
Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
3 years ago

” … they added up to a coherent and consistent picture of at the very least inappropriate behaviour.”
The allegations also added up to a coherent and consistent picture of a conspiracy to frame an innocent man. We are no closer to knowing the truth of the matter. It you take a view on Salmond’s innocence or guilt, then it is easy to use the evidence to justify your view.
One accuser’s identity became known because all of the accusers come from a small group of women who know each other, know Sturgeon and know Salmond and his closes advisers. The police and the courts rightly put weight on a group of accusers not knowing each other because that hugely reduces the possibility of their having coordinated their accusations. That was not the situation in this case.
We are left to wonder why Sturgeon would lie about the first time she heard of the accusations against Salmond and why minutes of official meetings have been destroyed.

Andrea X
Andrea X
3 years ago

In my view it was just an increasing desire to cover the initial mistake up, but in so doing they got deeper and deeper in it.
Why did they do it? Because they felt they could.

Jonathan Edwards
Jonathan Edwards
3 years ago

“HR departments, political parties’ own investigations — don’t have to meet the high bar of criminal proceedings, but they still have to be robust and independent to be effective.” Robust? Independent? The police and Fiscal/CPS have these qualities, certainly compared with internal amateurs. Sexual allegations always amount to criminal allegations, so sexual allegations should be referred to the police. Would save HR Deps and political parties no end of trouble – and be “effective” which I hope means “fair to both sides and doesn’t paralyse a company or institution.”.

Simon Baseley
Simon Baseley
3 years ago

“
but Salmond’s fans on social media have no compunction about drawing that conclusion and stating it in the most misogynistic terms”
 Oh, come on. You were doing really well until then. Misogynists, especially those who infest Twitter et al, will look for any opportunity to voice their idiot views. That does not make them fans of Salmond, even assuming these halfwits actually know who he is.
Perhaps we might call this Ditum’s Law defining it thus: “The willingness to condemn or employ social media according to the argument one wishes to sustain”. 

John Jones
John Jones
3 years ago

The essential problem, as Dittum points out, that most sexual assault trials come down to he said she said, because the acts in question are almost always private.

So we are faced with a a moral dilemma: either hold to the same standards of proof required in all other criminal cases, in which case many guilty people will go free; or lower the due process provisions to ensure more convictions, ensuring some innocent people are convicted.

What makes the problem even worse is that now relations that were considered to be acceptable in the past are now being problematized as assault. The goalposts change on a regular basis.

Either way seems a violation of justice. To decide on lowering the standards for conviction would also be sexist, because it is mostly men who would be convicted. The law would then be applied differentially based on gender, clearly a double standard.

The only way to deal with the problem is for men to voluntarily decide not to become sexually involved with women under any circumstances.

Pete Kreff
Pete Kreff
3 years ago
Reply to  John Jones

So we are faced with a a moral dilemma: either hold to the same standards of proof required in all other criminal cases, in which case many guilty people will go free; or lower the due process provisions to ensure more convictions, ensuring some innocent people are convicted.

But think of it this way: we could lower standards of proof in all criminal cases to ensure more convictions. But would we want to?
After all, murder is a worse crime than sexual assault – just think how many convictions for murder we could push through if only we lowered the standards of proof.

John Jones
John Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  Pete Kreff

That’s exactly my point: lowering standards of due process would be a disaster for the justice system.

Try telling our feminist friends that, and you’re a rape apologist.

Ian Moore
Ian Moore
3 years ago

They are 2 separate cases.

Simon Baseley
Simon Baseley
3 years ago

“
but Salmond’s fans on social media have no compunction about drawing that conclusion and stating it in the most misogynistic terms”
 Oh, come on. You were doing really well until then. Mysogynists, especially those who infest Twitter et al, will look for any opportunity to voice their idiot views. That does not make them fans of Salmond, even assuming these halfwits actually know who he is.
Citing social media in this way has become a trope to rank alongside Godwin’s law which says:  “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler becomes more likely”. Perhaps we might call it Ditum’s Law defining it thus: “The willingness to condemn or employ social media according to the argument one wishes to put forward”.
 
 

Oliver McCarthy
Oliver McCarthy
3 years ago

The most likely explanation is that the SNP went to war on one of their own for the sake of nothing more than a hashtag. For once this wasn’t even about power. It was about the hysteria of pure ideology. And all it proves is that in nationalist Scotland politics is now broken beyond repair. Mrs Mullen and her demented girl gang now clearly feel that they can do whatever they like. What they want to do next ought to alarm Scottish people especially.

Andrea X
Andrea X
3 years ago

For me it wasn’t planned, but as they (the Sg) made a monumental mess from the word go, they tried to cover it up, but in so doing they just ended up digging a deeper and deeper hole for themselves.
Why, you might ask. Because they can! This is the key part. In all honesty, who cares about the alphabet women and whether or not Salmond cheated justice.

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago

Everything is conflated nowadays as a matter of course, usually in order to spin a neat sellable narrative in whose interests it serves and those who are inclined to believe it, but there are three, arguably more, essentially entirely different factors at play here that unfortunately happen to be at stark odds with each other but are, nevertheless, deeply interwoven.

The first is the claim from numerous women, hardly contestable given the evidence, that Salmond was like Pepe le Pew on speed when presented with the opportunity and this was, certainly given his ‘superior’ position at the time, undeniably an abuse of that.

Secondly, despite his politically engineered fall from grace, Salmond is an extremely sharp operator, a confirmed Scottish patriot, an excellent politician and someone who knows the the arcane nature of Scottish law and the country’s political procedures inside out likely better than anybody.

Thirdly, Nicola Sturgeon is, likewise, an extremely shrewd operator, fiercely ambitious and a political opportunist extraordinaire with but one aim in mind, Scottish Independence. Even if that means expediently and knowingly sacrificing some of the legally established political procedures for ‘the greater good’ as she sees it.

Reconciling these three things might seem like an impossible job but something has to give here, most particularly in the eyes of the Scottish electorate who will ultimately decide an independence vote.

Be it the women who were put in positions that they unlikely would have chosen to be put in and did not receive the justice they were led to believe would come their way by the SNP’s high command, the illegally ousted flawed genius and erstwhile architect of an independent Scotland, Alex Salmond or the tartan terrier, Nicola Sturgeon who clearly sees it as her destiny as being ‘the one’ who will go down in her country’s history as ‘the one’ who finally delivered it but who was ultimately willing to ‘bend the rules’ and see her predecessor and erstwhile close political ally ruined and potentially sent to prison in order to achieve it.

Who said politics was a dirty ol’ business?

Last edited 3 years ago by G Harris
Andrea X
Andrea X
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

Don’t buy it, especially reason 1. You assume that the women were some innocent shepherdesses who were lured by a powerful evil charmer. Is that really the case?

Mark Beal
Mark Beal
3 years ago

“There’s something deeply unsatisfying about a set of circumstances that refuses to be reduced to easily identifiable heroes and villains.”

Only if you’re childish enough not to realize that all people have a bit of good and a bit of bad in them, and that most of the time the two can’t easily be separated.

jules Ritchie
jules Ritchie
3 years ago

‘It means that the encounter which hurt and degraded you is no longer something you bury in shame and self-reproach. Instead, you can look at it and say: I never wanted this, and this was never fair.’

We women have allowed minor scrapes with overly touchy-feely males to be classed the same as a full-on assault. A man who touches your bottom, who caresses your arm, puts his hand on your knee, rests his hand on your waist, needs to be told off there and then. This can be done quietly but still with firmness. If a woman can’t gather herself enough to manage this response at the time then she should certainly at the minimum report it to some who can act for her.

This type of incident would not cause a woman to ‘bury herself in shame’ and then 20 years later remember the moment as traumatic.

We really need to get our levels of assault in some order from simple unwanted attention to violence.

Nun Yerbizness
Nun Yerbizness
3 years ago

“The former first minister was acquitted on 13 charges of rape, sexual assault, indecent assault and attempt to rape following a trial in 2020; the handling of that case is currently the subject of an inquiry at Holyrood.”
The handling of that case is currently the subject of a bidding war for the rights to a screen play among several streaming services in HOLLYWOOD.

Mark H
Mark H
3 years ago
Reply to  Nun Yerbizness

Aah, the very epicentre of powerful creeps with zero accountability.

Andrea X
Andrea X
3 years ago
Reply to  Nun Yerbizness

ABSOLUTELY! I am looking forward to the Netflix series.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrea X

.

Last edited 3 years ago by Ian Barton
Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
3 years ago

A thoughtful and balanced article as usual from Sarah but she has overlooked the key element. This is the allegation by Salmond that all his accusers were connected by being, in some way, allies of the Sturgeon camp and that Sturgeon’s husband and SNP CEO, Peter Murrell, and other senior SNP figures, had actively sought out and encouraged women to complain. Two witnesses at Salmond’s trial stated that one of the complainers had not even been at the event at which she claimed she was assaulted.
Sarah should also know that Dani Garavelli is a well-known Sturgeon cheerleader, not some impartial court reporter.

Andrea X
Andrea X
3 years ago

In other words, a not terribly thoughtful and rather unbalanced article.

Angela Frith
Angela Frith
3 years ago

There’s a lot of woman hatred going on here. Every time an accused person is found not guilty, that does not mean that witnesses and accusers were liars committing perjury.
Imagine this as a case of alleged fraud in the City, where junior staff accused the managing director, but the Fraud Squad couldn’t make it stick. Would we then call for the prosecution of all junior members of staff who bore witness for perjury?

Andrea X
Andrea X
3 years ago
Reply to  Angela Frith

But they *might* be committing perjury.
One, seemingly, has, but no action has taken place by the crown.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrea X

Scotland used to be the European Champion for Witch Persecution. Perhaps they should return to their old and tested habits?

Nun Yerbizness
Nun Yerbizness
3 years ago

In 1682, Temperance Lloyd, a senile woman from Bideford, became the last witch ever executed in England. Lord Chief Justice Sir Francis North, a passionate critic of witchcraft trials, investigated the Lloyd case and denounced the prosecution as deeply flawed. Sir Francis North wrote, “The evidence against them was very full and fanciful, but their own confessions exceeded it. They appeared not only weary of their own lives but to have a great deal of skill to convict themselves.”
North’s criticism of the Lloyd case helped discourage additional prosecutions and witch-hunting shifted from one side of the Atlantic to the other, with the outbreak of hysteria in Salem in 1692.
The Enlightenment, beginning in the late 1680s, contributed to the end of witch-hunts throughout Europe. The Enlightenment brought empirical reason, skepticism, and humanitarianism, each of which helped defeat the superstitions of the earlier age. The Enlightenment suggested that there was no empirical evidence that alleged witches caused real harm, and taught that the use of torture to force confessions was inhumane.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago
Reply to  Nun Yerbizness

Janet Horne, stripped naked and burnt alive in a tar barrel, Scotland, 1727.
Checkmate.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
3 years ago
Reply to  Angela Frith

That is not the same thing at all. Make an unfounded allegation of fraud and give perjured evidence in support of it and you will get prosecuted, and probably sued for defamation into the bargain. It is inherent in the nature of allegations of sexual assault that just as they can be difficult to prove it can be even more difficult to prove that they are false.
I have had 2 incidents in the past 3/4 years where the police have asked for telematics data in order to prove that the individuals could not have been where the female accuser said they were.

Last edited 3 years ago by Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Pete Kreff
Pete Kreff
3 years ago
Reply to  Angela Frith

There’s a lot of woman hatred going on here. Every time an accused person is found not guilty, that does not mean that witnesses and accusers were liars committing perjury.

ï»żI think one person mentioned perjury. I wouldn’t call that “a lot of woman hatred”, though.

Nun Yerbizness
Nun Yerbizness
3 years ago

this mishigas has nothing to do with gender politics and everything to do with a dying empire’s last gasp at holding on to its last possession of economic and existential importance.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago
Reply to  Nun Yerbizness

..

Last edited 3 years ago by Charles Stanhope