Alex Salmond probe conspiracy theory about MI5 debunked
Picture by Bill Heaney
Tom Gordon, Scottish Political Editor of the Herald, reported that the woman who led the probe into alleged sexual misconduct by former First Minister Alex Salmond is married to an SNP activist – debunking a Nationalist conspiracy theory.
He said elements of the Yes movement have suggested Permanent Secretary Leslie Evans, the Scottish Government’s top official, is married to a former head of MI5, Lord Jonathan Evans.
And that the claim has been used to paint the former First Minister as the victim of a Unionist plot, with people tweeting at Ms Evan’s official account demanding she clarify the position.
Gordon revealed that SNP MP Angus Brendan MacNeil added to the febrile atmosphere, retweeting a message saying “I stand with Alex Salmond” against the “British establishment”.
His report continued that Mr Salmond also wrote to Ms Evans demanding an inquiry into how a graphic complaint against him was leaked to the media, and opposition parties demanded Nicola Sturgeon explain why she kept meeting Mr Salmond while her officials were investigating him.
The explosive claims against the former SNP leader have pitted him against his successor, and generated a host of social media theories about political smears.
However, the truth about Ms Evans’s marriage is less than helpful to so-called cybernats.
Rather than running the domestic security service, her husband of 28 years is Derek McVay, a former member of Edinburgh punk group The Visitors who went on to produce concerts by the jazz-funk band Jamiroquai.
He now runs a music business called Del Boy International Ltd.
Mr McVay, 58, has also been a prominent member of the SNP’s Edinburgh Central branch.
At the 2016 Holyrood election, he was campaign organiser for Alison Dickie, the SNP candidate in Edinburgh Central, who is now an Edinburgh city councillor.
He helped organise her canvassing sessions, street stalls and phone bank operations.
In March 2016, he attended a £30-a-head fundraising dinner to mark Ms Dickie’s formal adoption as a candidate – the keynote speaker was Mr Salmond.
Pictures on an SNP Facebook page also show Mr McVay campaigning with party posters and wearing a giant foam hand saying “I’m with Nicola… both votes SNP”.
After the SNP lost the Edinburgh Central fight to Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson by 610 votes, Ms Dickie said she would be “forever indebted” to Mr McVay for his hard work.
Asked about the conspiracy theory and Ms Evans, Mr McVay declined to comment.
Ms Evans revealed last week she received two misconduct complaints about Mr Salmond in January this year, which she told him about in March.
They dated from 2013, when Mr Salmond was First Minister, one alleging an unwanted sexual advance at his Bute House residence, according to the Daily Record.
After Ms Evans told Mr Salmond she intended to publicise the investigation, the former SNP leader took the government to court, putting a brake on the disclosure.
He instigated a judicial review at the Court of Session to determine if the investigation process was lawful, claiming he was denied a proper chance to respond.
The police are currently assessing the matter.
Ms Sturgeon insisted she was not part of the process, but revealed Mr Salmond was the first person to tell her he was the subject of the complaints in April.
She told him she would not intervene, but has not said why she felt it necessary to say so.
Mr Salmond has refused to say if he asked Ms Sturgeon to make the probe go away, but said on Friday: “I’ve spoken to Nicola… three times over this period of time, certainly in person three times. I have met her three times where this subject’s come up.”
Labour MSP Rhoda Grant said: “The people of Scotland expect full transparency over this most serious of matters, but the SNP government has so far not been forthcoming.
“The allegations against Alex Salmond are incredibly serious. His meetings with the head of a government that was investigating him must not be kept under wraps.”
The Scottish Tories also wrote to Ms Evans asking if any other complaints had been received about Mr Salmond – the government said there had been none.
Ms Sturgeon told STV there was no legal basis to suspend Mr Salmond from the SNP at present, but said the position would be “reconsidered” if the circumstances changed.
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “It is important to remember that two complaints have been made that could not be ignored or swept under the carpet no matter the identity of the individual involved.
“There are no recorded complaints about Alex Salmond prior to January 2018.
“For legal reasons we are unable to provide further detail at this time. However, in the fullness of time the Scottish Government will seek to make available as much information as it can.”
In 2016, Ms Evans gave an interview to Civil Service World in which she said her husband worked in the music industry.
She said: “He works in rock and roll, touring with bands. But I won’t say anything more about that because we have separate lives.
“I mean, we live together, but we do have separate lives… I don’t want to embarrass him!”