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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 December 2018

Former Scottish first minister Alex Salmond denies sexual misconduct claims

Mr Salmond said allegations by two staff members were "patently ridiculous"

Former First Minister of Scotland and Scottish National Party (SNP), Alex Salmond.  AFP
Former First Minister of Scotland and Scottish National Party (SNP), Alex Salmond.  AFP

Alex Salmond, the former nationalist leader who took Scotland to the brink of independence, has been accused of sexually harassing two members of staff while holding the country’s top office.

Mr Salmond described the claims that date back to 2013 as “patently ridiculous” and has launched legal action against the Scottish government over its handling of the allegations against him.

Mr Salmond, who was twice the leader of the pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP) and served as first minister from 2007, resigned in 2014 after Scotland voted to remain in the United Kingdom.

One of the alleged incidents is said to have taken place at his former official residence, Bute House in Edinburgh, according to the Daily Record, which broke the story.

The evidence was passed to the police after an internal probe. Police have declined to say whether they are investigating the claims.

Mr Salmond said that he had “tried everything, including offers of conciliation, mediation and legal arbitration to resolve these matters both properly and amicably'.

“This is a procedure so unjust that even now I have not been allowed to see and therefore to properly challenge the case against me. I have not been allowed to see the evidence,” he said in a statement tweeted from his official account.

He accepted that if he lost his legal complaint he will “have to answer to the complaints both comprehensively and publicly”.

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The Scottish government confirmed that Mr Salmond had begun legal action and would vigorously defend its position.

“As a matter of principle and integrity, it is vital that any allegations of harassment are treated seriously and investigated thoroughly, regardless of the identity of the party involved,” it said in a statement.

Since quitting as SNP leader, Mr Salmond has taken on a political chat show on the Russian state-funded broadcaster RT.

This created tensions with Nicola Sturgeon, his successor as SNP leader and first minister, with the party advising its parliamentarians not to appear on the programme given its reputation as a mouthpiece for the government of Vladimir Putin.

The accusations against the former first minister are the latest in a string of accusations moved by victims of sexual harassment and assault in the wake of the #MeToo movement.