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Thursday 26 March 2020

Lessons must be learnt after Salmond trial, says Penman

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FDA General Secretary Dave Penman has called for lessons to be learnt following the conclusion of the trial of Scotland’s former first minister, Alex Salmond.

Writing in today’s Times, Penman argued that while the issue of criminality had been settled following Salmond’s acquittal, evidence presented at the trial means question about his conduct remain. He wrote: “By his own admission, the former first minister could be inappropriate. He admitted that one of the complainers had a legitimate grievance over what he called the ‘sleepy cuddle’ incident, and that he had tugged the hair of one woman and stroked the face of another, to wake her up. He said he wished he had been more careful with people’s personal space, though it’s unclear whether by people, he means women.”

The General Secretary went on to say that Salmond, as first minister of his country at the time, was wielding extraordinary power over individuals, especially civil servants. “No one hearing the evidence should come away with anything other than concern over the former first minister’s behaviour and a culture that created an inability for those with concerns to challenge it.”

In a subsequent message to FDA members working in the Scottish government, Penman reiterated the need for an effective, independent mechanism for holding ministers to account, at Holyrood and across the United Kingdom. He reassured them that, “the FDA will continue to call for this, and will work with the Scottish government to ensure that the integrity and effectiveness of government is preserved and that complainers, and those facing complaints, can have full confidence in the process.”

He concluded by paying tribute to all those public servants involved in the response to the current public health emergency: “Rightly those providing direct healthcare in these extraordinary circumstances are the focus of public gratitude, but this is only possible through the support of countless public servants - whether it is behind the scenes in health or those stepping up to keep vital public services functioning in extraordinary circumstances.”


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