I am averse to trial by allegation whether the ‘accused’ is Cliff Richard, Alex Salmond or Uncle Tom Cobley. Premature disclosure of information about the Bute House investigations was certainly unfair to Mr Salmond. It was also an affront to the women who had complained under conditions of confidentiality. It is ironic that a regime which treats Freedom of Information legislation so flippantly could not protect possibly the most sensitive information it has ever been entrusted with. Is there any word of an inquiry? Once it was in the public domain and passed to the police, this was a matter for process – beyond the reach of Ministers. So I found it odd that Nicola Sturgeon thought it appropriate to offer herself for interviews. Her support for due process should surely have been taken as read, requiring only the briefest confirmation. After all, there were only two options – support it or obstruct it and surely the latter was never considered? Making heavy-handed virtue out of “not sweeping under the carpet” was redundant. Thereafter Ms Sturgeon’s witterings about friend, mentor, distress, the transcendent importance of independence … they are all completely irrelevant and potentially a pejorative confusion of arguments. So too are Mr Salmond’s attacks on the Permanent Secretary when he knows better than anyone that the last decade has been devoted to dismantling the walls that should separate Ministers, civil servants and party. In the middle of all this, there are aggrieved individuals, a police investigation, a process, an outcome. In everyone’s interests, these matters should be resolved as quickly and cleanly as possible, untrammelled by the distractions of political positioning.
Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon.