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  1. ITV Report

Alex Salmond: 'I am not guilty of harassing anyone'

Former first minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond has said he is "not guilty of harassing anyone" and is "certainly not guilty of criminality" after two allegations of harassment were brought against him.

Two women claim he harassed them at Bute House - the official residency of the first minister - in December 2013.

But Mr Salmond vehemently refutes the allegations.

He told STV: "I'm not perfect. I've made many mistakes in my life - political and personal - but I am not guilty of harassing anyone and I am certainly not guilty of any criminality."

Questioned whether he had ever behaved inappropriately, Mr Salmond replied: "I don't believe so."

Mr Salmond hit out at the Scottish Government who he claimed in an earlier statement had prevented him from properly challenging the allegations.

He is now taking the case to the Court of Session - the highest court in Scotland - to contest the complaints process that was activated against him.

Earlier, first minister Nicola Sturgeon has called the harassment claims against her former colleague and longstanding friend Salmond as "incredibly difficult situation for me to come to terms with.

“Everybody knows the length and the closeness of my relationship to Alex Salmond and people will understand how difficult this is for me and for my party,” said Ms Sturgeon.

“This will be extremely upsetting to members of the SNP up and down the country – it is a difficult situation but what is important is that complaints are treated seriously regardless of the person who the complaint is about."

A statement from Permanent Secretary at the Scottish Government Leslie Evans said: "Last November, I agreed with the First Minister that, in light of wider concerns about harassment in Westminster and the Scottish Parliament, an internal review would be carried out into the Scottish Government's procedures for handling complaints in the workplace.

"As part of that review, a new procedure on handling harassment complaints involving current or former ministers was introduced.

"Following the conclusion of an internal investigation I can confirm that the Scottish Government received two complaints in January in relation to Alex Salmond.

"Mr Salmond was notified of the complaints in March and the details of the procedure under which the complaints would be addressed."

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Ms Evans statement concluded: "As the head of the Civil Service in Scotland, I have been consistently clear that there is no place for harassment of any kind in the workplace.

"In line with work already under way in the organisation to tackle inappropriate behaviour, I will consider carefully any issues about culture and working practices highlighted by these complaints."

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Mr Salmond earlier released a statement on Twitter denying the claims.

“For many months now, and on the advice of Senior Counsel, I have attempted to persuade the Permanent Secretary to the Scottish Government that she is behaving unlawfully in the application of a complaints procedure, introduced by her more than three years after I left office.

“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.”

Since leaving office, Alex Salmond has worked in broadcasting. Credit: PA

He went on: “The Permanent Secretary chose to deny me contact with any current civil servant, many of whom wished to give evidence on my behalf, and access to documentation to allow me to properly challenge the complaints, all of which I refute and some of which were patently ridiculous.

“The procedure as put into operation by the Permanent Secretary is grossly unfair and therefore inevitably will lead to prejudicial outcomes.

“It is therefore with great reluctance that I have today launched a Judicial Review in the Court of Session which will decide the issue of the lawfulness of the procedure which has been used against me.”