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Friday 12 March 2021

"Hyperbole has replaced debate or analysis" - Penman on the Salmond inquiry

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FDA General Secretary Dave Penman has defended civil servants called to give evidence to the Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints.

Writing for The Scotsman, Penman criticised the conduct of committee members towards witnesses and argued that politicians and commentators had sought to "advance their own political interests" rather than "get to the bottom of a complex and sensitive issue".

In his column, Penman pointed out that the committee had originally sought personal evidence from civil servants, despite the fact that this could have potentially led to witnesses breaching the Civil Service Code. The committee was aware of the rules, but it was only following push back, including from the FDA, that they gave up on the idea.

In what should have been a forum for sober reflection, he wrote: that "hyperbole has replaced debate or analysis." He went on: "Hesitation or clarification is seen as nothing more than lies and obfuscation. Mistakes are only incompetence, and accountability can only mean one thing: resignation."

Penman also reflected on the women at the heart of the inquiry, pointing out that, "having been let down by their employer and their government, they’ve now been let down by Parliament and a media that has lapped it all up for the political circus it has become."

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