Sexual harassment case – redacted notes and e-mails will be revealed
Alex Salmond and Court of Session judge Lord Pentland – “it is in the interest of justice for this to be done”.
By Democrat reporter
Former First Minister Alex Salmond has secured a legal victory ahead of his case against the Scottish Government over the handling of harassment allegations.
The government will be forced to fully reveal emails and notes relating to the sexual harassment claims made against him, according to a report today in The National newspaper.
Salmond’s lawyers had insisted that the documents needed to be examined without redactions, as they were relevant to how the complaints were investigated.
His legal action against the Scottish Government relates to its handling of allegations of sexual misconduct made by two women, which he has strongly denied.
In response to the legal victory, a spokesman for Salmond said: “The situation remains the same. We will do our talking in court next month.”
His legal team are arguing that the investigation process was unfair, saying the civil servant investigating the complaints was biased due to her prior knowledge of them.
A source close to Salmond said: “This is a big development; it proves that the Scottish Government has something to hide.”
Judge Lord Pentland ruled that emails and notes will be handed to an external commissioner, Morag Ross QC, to decide whether their contents are relevant.
They had been substantially redacted by the Scottish Government, arguing that they were covered by a confidentiality agreement.
Lord Pentland said: “Essentially, I’m satisfied that it is in the interest of justice for this to be done.
“I have given careful consideration to the fact that the respondent gave qualified assurance of confidentiality to Ms A and Ms B.
“The law is clear and this was, I understand, expressed to the complainers that such assurance can never be definitive.
“This is an appropriate case for the confidentiality undertaking to be overwritten by the court.”
He said the identity of the two women – known simply as Ms A and Ms B – will be “fully protected”.
The documents to be released include emails sent in January and notes from a meeting between one of the complainers and a senior Scottish Government official on November 22 last year.
Ronnie Clancy QC, representing Salmond, had rejected claims by the government’s lawyer that the contents did not reveal anything new.
He said that was “quite a remarkable turn of events given the very guarded and defensive position that the respondents have adopted up until now”.
He added: “I refuse to accept without sight of these documents that they contain nothing more than we know already.”