Alex Salmond accuses SNP chief of 'conspiracy' to 'ruin his life'

Alex Salmond accuses Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP chief husband and party figures of ‘conspiracy’ to ‘ruin his life’ and have him jailed ahead of Holyrood inquiry appearance

  • Alex Salmond to give evidence to Holyrood inquiry on investigation into him
  • Ex-First Minister accused SNP figures of ‘concerted effort’ to bring him down
  • Claims Nicola Sturgeon’s husband got ‘senior staff to recruit others to submit police complaints’ about him following harassment charges
  • Miss Sturgeon says there is ‘not a shred of evidence’ of a conspiracy against him
  • Mr Salmond was charged with 13 counts of sexual assault but was acquitted 
  • Was also awarded £512,000 for the botched handling of complaints against him

Alex Salmond has accused Nicola Sturgeon’s husband of attempting to have him ‘imprisoned’ as part of conspiracy at the top of the SNP.

The former First Minister claims Peter Murrell led a ‘deliberate, prolonged, malicious and concerted effort’ to damage his reputation and remove him from public life.

Mr Salmond also implicates Miss Sturgeon’s chief of staff Liz Lloyd in the alleged plot to bring him down.

In a submission last night to the Holyrood inquiry looking into the botched investigation of himself, Mr Salmond levelled serious allegations against other senior SNP figures, including compliance officer Ian McCann and chief operating officer Sue Ruddick.

He said others who cannot be named for legal reasons were also involved.

In a different submission, Ms Lloyd ardently rejected being part of a conspiracy and said this was ‘not substantiated by any evidence’. She also denied leaking details of a Scottish Government inquiry into the allegations to the Daily Record newspaper.

Alex Salmond has accused Nicola Sturgeon’s husband and other senior figures in the SNP of attempting to have him ‘imprisoned’ as part of a conspiracy around the investigation into claims against the former First Minister

The former First Minister claims Peter Murrell led a ‘deliberate, prolonged, malicious and concerted effort’ to damage his reputation and remove him from public life

But Mr Salmond gave in a signed statement from a senior SNP official at Westminster who claimed senior figures within the party were engaged in a ‘witch hunt’ against Mr Salmond.

Mr Salmond said he had come to the ‘inescapable conclusion’ in his evidence, in which he also launched a fierce attack on senior civil servants and the Crown Office.

Last night, it was confirmed that the former SNP leader will appear before MSPs tomorrow as they examine the Government’s botched handling of harassment complaints against him.

The exercise was set aside after it was found to be unlawful and tainted by apparent bias. Mr Salmond was awarded more than £512,000 to cover his legal fees.

Last night Miss Sturgeon claimed there was ‘not a shred of evidence’ of a conspiracy. Miss Sturgeon previously saw Mr Salmond as a ‘mentor’ to her during his time as First Minister, but the pair have drifted apart in recent years

He was charged with 13 counts of sexual assault, including attempted rape. Mr Salmond was acquitted of all charges in March 2020.

And in his submission to the inquiry, Mr Salmond said that had it not been for the jury system in Scotland, a campaign to remove him from public life might have ‘succeeded’.

‘However, underlying all of this and perhaps the most serious issue of all is the complete breakdown of the necessary barriers which should exist between Government, political party and indeed the prosecution authorities in any country which abides by the rule of law.’

He states says he has never before used the word ‘conspiracy’ to describe his situation, but he added: ‘The evidence supports a deliberate, prolonged, malicious and concerted effort amongst a range of individuals within the Scottish Government and the SNP to damage my reputation, even to the extent of having me imprisoned.’

He went on to say: ‘That includes, for the avoidance of doubt, Peter Murrell (chief executive), Ian McCann (compliance officer) and Sue Ruddick (chief operating officer) of the SNP together with Liz Lloyd, the First Minister’s chief of staff.

‘There are others who, for legal reasons, I am not allowed to name.’

He added: ‘It has been a matter of public interest whether there was “a conspiracy”. I have never adopted the term but note the Cambridge English Dictionary defines it as “the activity of secretly planning with other people to do something bad or illegal”.’ 

According to Mr Salmond, the ‘most obvious and compelling evidence of such conduct’ is contained in materials the Crown Office ‘refuses to release’. He said: ‘That decision is disgraceful.’

Mr Salmond has called for evidence he obtained ahead of his criminal trial – but was not used in court – to be released by prosecutors, however they have refused to do so.

He said such a move ‘makes it impossible for the Committee to complete its task; and that the ‘only beneficiaries of that decision to withhold evidence are those involved in conduct to damage (and indeed imprison) me’.

Nationalist says party requires time out to heal

The SNP is so divided it needs a period in opposition to ‘sort itself out’, a nationalist academic said.

Professor James Mitchell raised concerns about the impact fundamental splits over Alex Salmond, policy and the independence strategy have had on the party.

He said the divisions have caused ‘internal bloodletting’ which is only normally seen in parties after a major election defeat.

On his Sceptical Scot blog, Professor Mitchell, chair of public policy at Edinburgh University, said: ‘The SNP needs a period in opposition to sort itself out. It has no credible road map to anywhere other than victory at the next elections.

‘It hopes a big win will restore Nicola Sturgeon’s authority. If that happens, it is likely to be short-lived.’

Scottish Conservative chief whip Miles Briggs said: ‘The SNP are so divisive that they are now splitting apart their own party too.’ 

Mr Salmond also accuses Mr Murrell of deploying ‘his senior staff to recruit and persuade staff and ex-staff members to submit police complaints’.

He said: ‘This activity was being co-ordinated with special advisers and was occurring after the police investigation had started and after I ceased to be a member of the SNP.’

Mr Murrell has previously denied there was a conspiracy against Mr Salmond.

Mr Salmond has also used his final submission before appearing at Holyrood to demand resignations over the affair, hitting out at the ‘real cost’ to the Scottish people which he believes to be ‘many millions’ of pounds.

He said: ‘No one in this process has uttered the simple words necessary on occasions to renew and refresh democratic institutions – “I resign”.’

But last night Miss Sturgeon claimed there was ‘not a shred of evidence’ of a conspiracy.

She told STV News: ‘He has made claims, or he appears to be making claims or suggestions there was some kind of conspiracy against him or concerted campaign against him.

‘There is not a shred of evidence about that, so this is the opportunity for him to replace insinuation and assertion with evidence. I don’t believe he can because I know what he is saying is not true.

‘If he can’t provide that evidence he should stop making these claims about people because they’re not fair.’

She refutes Mr Salmond’s claims that she did breach the ministerial code. She added: ‘The Scottish Government, of course, made a mistake in this. But this week it’s an opportunity for Alex Salmond – I hope he will come to the committee on Wednesday.

An SNP spokesman said: ‘This is just more assertion without a shred of credible evidence.’

Yesterday, Rape Crisis Scotland demanded that the Scottish parliament should convene an ’emergency’ meeting to rethink the decision to publish Mr Salmond’s submission.

Chief executive Sandy Brindley warned it was ‘inexplicable’ Holyrood chiefs would ‘knowingly publish’ material which could risk identifying someone who had complained about Mr Salmond.

Last night a spokesman for Mr Salmond said: ‘We have now reached agreement with the parliamentary clerks on the publication of Mr Salmond’s evidence.

‘This clears the way for Mr Salmond to attend an oral hearing on Wednesday.’

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