Explosive excerpts from the diary of a senior official who formed the investigation into the sexual assault of Alex Salmond
Explosive excerpts from a senior official’s diary that formed a key part of the investigation into the sexual assault against Alex Salmond have come to light for the first time.
Michael McElhinney’s accounts reveal what he says was the flood of complaints against the former prime minister from his female staff and his anger at the lack of action taken.
Mr McElhinney, who was responsible for rotating Mr Salmond’s private office, wrote that he had introduced rules to prevent women from working after 8pm.
He said one reported a conversation about sex on Eurostar in April 2014 and another spoke of “petting and an invitation to lie down [the] bed ‘at Bute House in October 2013.
Meanwhile, Mr McElhinney’s notes indicated that a third claimed that Mr Salmond put his arm around her and tried to kiss her, which he said only comforted her because she was upset.
Mr Salmond, who has consistently denied the sexual harassment allegations, was acquitted of attempted rape and a series of sexual assaults, including one with intent to rape, on March 23, 2020.
He faced 13 counts including one of attempted rape, one of intent to rape, nine counts of sexual assault and two of indecent assault.
The former SNP chief, 66, was cleared of all charges by a jury after an 11-day trial in Edinburgh High Court.
A separate Scottish Government inquiry into the allegations was found to be illegal, unfair and ‘tainted with apparent bias’ by the Court of Session.
Michael McElhinney’s stories reveal flood of complaints against former prime minister from his female staff and anger over lack of action
Mr. McElhinney’s diaries are revealed in Break-Up: How Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon Went To War by reporters David Clegg and Kieran Andrews. Mrs Sturgeon is pictured
The accounts of Mr. McElhinney’s diary, revealed in a new book reported in the Times, trace what he says were the claims made by the women against Mr. Salmond while they were working for him.
He explained that the Eurostar incident was not the woman’s first complaint against her boss for her behavior.
They were on a trip to Europe and Mr McElhinney emailed him to verify that everything was fine, according to Mr McElhinney’s notes.
She reportedly replied, âEverything is fine. He’s a pig, but he’s not an angry pig today. Just a disgusting. He advised her to “stay safe” and avoid any uncomfortable situation.
But he said she responded again ten minutes later and described a sex conversation Mr Salmond initiated.
She said, âToo late. I didn’t even walk through the Eurostar trip without him talking about sleeping with me.
She added: “To be honest I think I have to minimize my time with him this week day after tomorrow.”
He said one reported a conversation about sex on Eurostar in April 2014 and another spoke of “petting and an invitation to lie down [the] bed ‘at Bute House (pictured) in October 2013
Mr McElhinney, who was in charge of rotating Mr Salmond’s private office (pictured), wrote he had introduced rules to prevent women from working after 8 p.m.
The woman, who then filed two sexual assault complaints against the Prime Minister, asked that her schedule be changed so that she did not have to see him.
Mr McElhinney vowed he would change it for the rest of the week and the woman replied that she wanted a “break between seeing his fat face and hearing his obscene comments.”
Less than a year earlier, Mr McElhinney had left his post in the cabinet of Labor Prime Minister Jack McConnell for the most senior position in the SNP.
He knew Mr Salmond well, having worked with him previously on energy policy and was keen to work together on the campaign for Scottish independence.
The post was offered to him by Senior Private Secretary Joe Griffin, who headed Mr Salmond’s private office for civil servants.
But in just a few weeks, the newspaper said, it turned into a nightmare as several women came forward to claim that the prime minister had acted inappropriately towards them.
His diary reports that most focused on working with Mr Salmond late at night, which was often necessary during the political chaos of the time.
The first issue apparently arose when a woman said she was uncomfortable being asked to watch a movie in Bute House’s office on October 30, 2013.
She claimed that Mr Salmond had turned off the lights and brought two chairs closer together so that they were close.
Mr Salmond, who has consistently denied the allegations, was acquitted of attempted rape and a series of sexual assaults, including one with intent to rape, on March 23, 2020
She made it clear that there was “no inappropriate contact” and did not want any formal proceedings, but said it had unsettled her.
Mr. McElhinney reported the alleged incident to Mr. Griffin and said he was alarmed by the claim.
Mr Salmond then apologized to the woman for what he called a “sleeping hug”.
Mr McElhinney recorded nine suspected cases of sexual language, unwanted touching and other inappropriate behavior, which allegedly emerged over the following months in his diary.
There was heightened fear at Bute House about the claims made in April, the book says.
He refers to the rushed discussions Mr. McElhinney and his team had in the days following the complaints.
They found that Mr Salmond had not behaved in an acceptable manner and wanted to remedy it, but without filing a formal complaint.
Mr McElhinney wrote about his anger that the public service had done little to provide women with a safe work environment.
He gave the diary notes to the Scottish Police in 2018 and it became a key part of Operation Diem in the alleged sexual assaults of Mr Salmond.
Mr. McElhinney’s diaries are revealed in Break-Up: How Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon Went To War by reporters David Clegg and Kieran Andrews.
TIMELINE: Scottish independence movement leading figure’s two-year battle as he fought to clear his name
Alex Salmond was acquitted of attempted rape and a series of sexual assaults, including one with intent to rape.
The former Scottish Prime Minister was cleared of all charges by a jury after an 11-day trial in Edinburgh High Court.
Here is a timeline of the events leading up to the verdict.
January 2018: The Scottish Government receives two harassment complaints involving Alex Salmond, dating from 2013, and launches an investigation.
March 2018: The former prime minister is informed of the investigation against him.
23 Aug 2018: The Daily Record publishes news of the allegations made to the Scottish government against Mr Salmond via a tweet.
The former Prime Minister denies the harassment allegations and is launching legal action against the Scottish government to challenge the complaints process which has been activated against him.
Aug 24, 2018: Nicola Sturgeon posts a statement on Twitter saying she has known for “some time” about the Mr Salmond investigation and has no role in the process.
She says: “My relationship with Alex Salmond obviously makes this situation extremely difficult for me to accept.”
Scottish police confirm that the allegations were passed on to force.
Mr Salmond vigorously denies sexual harassment complaints lodged against him while he was Scottish Prime Minister, saying he had “never committed a crime”.
Aug 26, 2018: Ms Sturgeon said there was “no legal basis” for suspending Mr Salmond from the SNP, following appeals for the decision from opposition parties.
She says her party has not received any complaints about her predecessor’s conduct – nor has she conducted an investigation.
August 27, 2018: Mr Salmond writes to Scotland’s top civil servant, Permanent Secretary Leslie Evans, calling for an investigation into how allegations of sexual harassment against him have been made public.
Aug 28, 2018: Mr Salmond officially begins his legal action against the Scottish government by filing his petition for judicial review with the Court of Session in Edinburgh.
August 29, 2018: The former prime minister announces having resigned from his SNP membership to avoid divisions within the party.
He launches a crowdfunding campaign to help cover his costs in the lawsuit and the Â£ 50,000 goal is shattered within hours.
January 8, 2019: Lord Pentland J. ruled in the Court of Session that the Scottish government’s actions were “unlawful in that they were procedurally unfair and tainted with apparent bias”.
Ms Sturgeon supports Ms Evans’ decision to settle the case after a misapplication of the complaints procedure.
Mr Salmond is calling on the Scottish senior official to quit his post after accusing her of “wasting” hundreds of thousands of pounds of public money.
January 15, 2019: The Scottish Parliament announces that it will launch its own investigation into the fallout of the allegations against the former Prime Minister.
January 24, 2019: Scottish police confirm that they have arrested and charged Mr Salmond.
He is appearing before Edinburgh Sheriff Court facing allegations of sexual assault, including attempted rape.
The former prime minister makes a statement saying he “refutes” the criminal allegations and plans to defend himself “to the fullest” in court.
January 31, 2019: An investigation into whether Ms Sturgeon broke ministerial code during discussions with Mr Salmond is on hold pending the conclusion of the trial against him.
February 6, 2019: MSPs vote to establish a Holyrood committee to investigate the Scottish government’s handling of complaints against Mr Salmond, later agreeing to suspend its work until the case is concluded.
November 21, 2019: Mr Salmond appears for the first time in the High Court of Edinburgh and pleads not guilty to the charges against him.
March 9, 2020: The trial begins in the High Court of Edinburgh.
March 23, 2020: Jury returns not guilty on 12 counts, including attempted rape, and an unproven verdict on a charge of sexual assault with intent to rape.