The National:

WE all knew the Scottish Tories would be doing everything in their limited power to score political points right now.

Alex Salmond is taking the Scottish Government to court over its handling of an investigation into sexual harassment complaints made against him, all of which he has entirely denied.

Salmond says he resigned his membership of the SNP to take pressure off Nicola Sturgeon to suspend him, but has vowed to rejoin at a later date.

But when Scottish Tory MP Colin Clark – who unseated Salmond – appeared on Good Morning Scotland, wasn't missing the opportunity. Clark was clearly desperate to criticise SNP leader and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

There was just one little issue... he had absolutely no evidence to back that up. Between this fact and some robust questioning from Gary Robertson, the interview won't be popular with the #SNPBAD brigade.



Presenter Gary Robertson: Has Mr Salmond done the right thing here?

Tory MP Colin Clark: Alex Salmond has gone before he was pushed. There’s a civil war in the SNP and many in the SNP believe this is a witch hunt which in itself is an attack on the civil service which Alex Salmond seems to blame. Nicola Sturgeon has handled this abysmally leaving the civil service exposed and the alleged victims ignored.

Presenter: Well, every statement that Nicola Sturgeon has released has focused on the alleged victims here, and said that these issues cannot be swept under the carpet, and that is why there has been this Scottish Government investigation.

Colin Clark: Absolutely. But what message does this send to those who investigate complaints? The former First Minister’s actions have undermined the integrity of the civil service. Let’s be clear, everyone should be presumed innocent, but no-one, including the former First Minister, is above the law.

Presenter: He’s not above the law, is he? What he’s actually saying is that he’s challenging the process

Colin Clark: He is, but he’s made a direct attack on the permanent secretary of the civil service. When he starts to move to process … I think what people want to see is this to play out, to be investigated properly, and undermining the process effectively undermines the accusations and the whole investigation process. 

Presenter: But that is going on separately isn’t it? We know for instance that the police are assessing the information that they have received before deciding whether or not there should be a formal investigation. That is in no way hampered by what Mr Salmond is doing in terms of challenging the way the Scottish Government handled this.

Colin Clark: Mr Salmond deserves to be presumed innocent until proven otherwise. But undermining the process, suggesting that the civil service have got this process wrong, is simply trying to move the attention from what are very serious accusations to saying that the process isn’t safe and he’s not getting a fair chance.

Presenter: But if you were in a position like this and you genuinely believed that the process had not been carried out in a fair and just manner would you not want to challenge it?

Colin Clark: Mr Salmond is moving the whole debate from following the process, being investigated … but the blame has to lie at the feet of Nicola Sturgeon. This process has been handled very, very clumsily, and it’s leaving the vulnerable people in the process, the civil servants who can’t speak for themselves, and the alleged victims, leaving their voices unheard…

Presenter: What more should Nicola Sturgeon have done then if you believe she hasn’t handled this properly? What more should she have done?

Colin Clark: I think we have got to a point in the process where Mr Salmond is speaking more about what the process is and less about actually letting this play out.

Presenter: That may well be the case but that is Mr Salmond’s position and some would argue that’s Mr Salmond’s prerogative. I’m asking you specifically because you have made the claim that Nicola Sturgeon has handled this badly, what more specifically should the First Minister, the SNP leader have done in these circumstances?

Colin Clark: This has been turned into a political circus rather than it being about the complaints being taken seriously and it being investigated…

Presenter: But the complaint has been taken seriously which is why we had this lengthy investigation under the procedures that have been set up by the Scottish Government, haven’t they? I’ll ask you again, having said that Nicola Sturgeon handled this badly, what more should she have done?

Colin Clark: She has left the civil service carrying the can today. Alex Salmond just recently said that it was the permanent secretary’s fault, that this was the Leslie Evans’ procedure. This has completely been turned around from being about the alleged victims being taken seriously, and been turned round to process, and Alex Salmond is trying to undermine process, and Nicola Sturgeon, at the end of the day, started off this process, and we are now… he’s trying to conflate two totally different things.

Presenter: Should Mr Salmond’s actions now be the template for any allegations of impropriety in any political party – should result either in immediate suspension or resignation?

Colin Clark: Alex Salmond… I can’t speak for Alex Salmond…

Presenter: No, but you can speak for your party. Should this be the template for all political parties going forward?

Colin Clark: He’s clearly lost faith in the political machine of the SNP, and he’s decided to withdraw from the SNP, that was Alex Salmond’s decision. But this is all, again, trying to move the focus from the accusations to the process.

Presenter: Indeed, and with respect Mr Clark, you’ve made that point several times now. I’m asking you quite specifically, should this be the template for how other parties behave in future? Because your party has been criticised in the past for people making inappropriate comments for instance, and then an apology being enough. Should people be automatically suspended or forced to resign from political parties if they face these allegations

Colin Clark: No. I don’t believe so. I don’t believe so. And I think our party and Westminster are agreeing the process at the moment, and we’ve moved a long way from where we’ve been in the past. But let’s gate back to the point. Alex Salmond is trying to cloud the issue by resigning from the SNP…

Presenter: We very much got that message from you. Thank you very much for speaking to us this morning.