EDINBURGH â€” Former Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond is taking fresh legal action against the Scottish government he once led as the fallout continues from the way an investigation into his conduct was handled.
Speaking out for the first time since an explosive evidence session at Holyrood last month, Salmond mentioned his successor Nicola Sturgeon only once â€” and not by name â€” as he instead focused his attention on the position of a senior civil servant.
The two heavyweights of the Scottish independence movement have been embroiled in a public feud that resulted in two separate inquiries into Sturgeon and her governmentâ€™s conduct, after Salmond was accused and then later cleared of sexual harassment complaints.
The findings of both inquiries were published earlier this week. The first, which focused on whether Sturgeon broke the Scottish ministerial code, largely exonerated the first minister. The second â€” written by a Holyrood committee â€” was highly critical of how the government and specific officials handled the affair.
In a lengthy statement released Wednesday, Salmond said the findings â€œmust be acceptedâ€ while laying out plans for fresh legal action against the Scottish government and its Permanent Secretary Leslie Evans, who leads the countryâ€™s civil service.
â€œ[The committeeâ€™s report] made clear that the catastrophic failures in this matter are not just systemic, but can properly be laid at the door of individuals, and in particular, the permanent secretary,â€ Salmond said in a statement.
â€œDespite the most damning condemnation from a committee in the history of the modern Scottish Parliament, the permanent secretary still refuses to accept real responsibility,â€ he said. â€œThis cannot stand.â€
Salmond said his lawyers would bring proceedings against Evans in the Scottish Court of Session, which is Scotlandâ€™s supreme civil court. He previously won a judicial review court case against the government in 2019.
A Scottish government spokesperson on Wednesday night said that the first minister â€œretains her confidenceâ€ in Evans, saying she has â€œoperated at all times in line with the Civil Service Code and legal advice received.â€ They said â€œit would be inappropriate to comment on a hypothetical legal action.â€
Separately, Salmond also said he would make a complaint to the police over a leak to the Daily Record newspaper.
The original complaints against Salmond became public in 2018 after they were leaked to the newspaper, a leak the former first minister believes could have come from the first ministerâ€™s office.
He said he had â€œevery confidenceâ€ in the police to pursue the matter and find out the identity of the leaker.
â€œI intend to make no further public comment on these issues and will leave the police and the courts to do their jobâ€, said Salmond. â€œInstead I intend to move on.â€
After a bracing few weeks for Sturgeon and the Scottish government, that last line of Salmondâ€™s intervention will allow a sigh of relief â€” for now.
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This article has been updated.