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Tory MP uses parliamentary privilege to reveal whistle-blower claims about Salmond inquiry

Nicola Sturgeon’s government accused of withholding information from Holyrood probe

Former Brexit secretary David Davis has told the Commons that Scottish National Party (SNP) officials made a “concerted effort” to “encourage” allegations of sexual abuse against Alex Salmond.

The Conservative MP used parliamentary privilege to reveal messages from SNP staffers who allegedly pushed for Salmond’s accusers to come forward. Davis also accused the Scottish government of “actively withholding information” from the Holyrood inquiry into the handling of the complaints against the former first minister

The Tory told fellow MPs yesterday that a whistle-blower had handed him a “download of text messages from the telephone” of the SNP’s chief operating officer, Sue Ruddick, that reveal “a very strong prima facie case” for Salmond’s claim that party officials conspired to remove him from public life

“The whistle-blower clearly agrees with those charges,” said Davis, who argued that Holyrood needs to be given the same “powers and privileges” afforded to Westminster politicians, to enable a proper investigation into Salmond’s counter-allegations.

In a further blow to Nicola Sturgeon, David “also claimed that the messages he received showed that the first minister’s chief of staff knew about the allegations against Mr Salmond months before originally asserted”, The Scotsman reports.

“I have it on good authority that there exists from the 6 February 2018 an exchange of messages between civil servants Judith McKinnon and Barbara Alison, suggesting the first minister’s chief of staff is interfering in the complaints process against Alex Salmond,” Davis told the Commons.

“If true, this suggests the chief of staff had knowledge of the Salmond case in February, not in April, as she has claimed on oath.”

Seizing on this claim, Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross later said that the signs pointed to “an outrageous breach” of the “privacy and confidentiality” of the women who brought the harassment complaints.

Davis’s intervention came as the QC tasked with examining the Scottish government’s procedures published “a range of recommendations about how complaints against serving ministers could be investigated”, the BBC reports.

In a review that comes ahead of “two other keenly anticipated reports relating to the bungled civil action” against Salmond, Laura Dunlop suggested that “probes concerning former ministers should be independent”, the broadcaster continues.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Sturgeon brushed off Davis’s allegations, saying that “as with Mr Salmond’s previous claims and cherry-picking of messages, the reality is very different to the picture being presented”.

“Every message involving SNP staff has been seen by the committee previously. Their views have been widely reported as dismissive of them,” the spokesperson added.

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