No 'fishing expedition' to get Alex Salmond says top civil servant

The Scottish Government's top civil servant has rejected claims of a "fishing expedition" against former First Minister Alex Salmond.

Tuesday, 8th September 2020, 1:41 pm
Leslie Evans rejected "fishing expedition" claims
Leslie Evans rejected "fishing expedition" claims

Permanent Secretary Leslie Evans also revealed that 10 civil servants had raised concerns about their treatment, although only two made formal complaints.

Ms Evans was appearing before a Holyrood committee probing the Scottish Government’s handling of the complaints made by civil servants against the ex-First Minister today.

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Mr Salmond won a judicial review against the Government he formerly led over the way it handled the complaints process last year and he was subsequently cleared of 13 criminal charges of sexual assault in March.

The Scottish Government lost the judicial review after it emerged the official who probed the complaints against Mr Salmond had been in previous contact with the civil servants involved about the case . Some were told about concerns raised by others, MSPs heard today.

Liberal Democrat Alex Cole-Hamilton questioned whether this could be viewed as a "fishing expedition."

But Ms Evans said: "It’s so important that we get this absolutely on the record - there was no fishing expedition.

"There were a number of people - 10 around - that were raising concerns about their treatment and experience in the Government at that time.

"Two of those decided to take that quite legitimately into the procedure that was marked complaint ie.formalising it.

"This confection that there was some kind of fishing expedition encouraging people to do this goes against everything that is in the DNA of a professional HR (officer)."

The Permanent Secretary also played down the significance of a text it later emerged that she sent following the Government’s court defeat stating it had "lost the battle, but will win the war."

But Ms Evans insisted this had been "misinterpreted" and referred to improving working culture within the civil service.

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