Former first minister Alex Salmond has received more than £500,000 in legal costs from the Scottish government following a botched investigation into allegations of sexual harassment.
In a statement yesterday, the government said: “We can confirm that final settlement of £512,250 has been made to Mr Salmond for legal costs arising from his petition for judicial review.”
In January, the government admitted that had not followed the correct procedure when it appointed an investigating officer who had “prior involvement” with the case, leading Judge Lord Pentland to rule that its investigation had been unlawful.
The government told the Court of Session in Edinburgh that the investigating officer was a “dedicated HR professional” who acted in good faith but had been in contact with the complainants before being appointed to the case. This led to the judgment that the government was not acting impartially when conducting its investigation.
Weeks after he won his judicial review in January, Police Scotland charged Salmond with two counts of attempted rape, nine of sexual assault, two of indecent assault and one for breach of the peace.
Salmond insists he is innocent of any criminality and his case is expected to be heard at the Edinburgh high court in January 2020.
A Scottish parliamentary inquiry into the handling of the investigation into the allegations against Salmond has been suspended until the criminal case is complete.
A spokesman for the former first minister said: “The huge amounts which have been paid in legal expenses by the Scottish government reflects the agreement by which the investigation of Mr Salmond was declared by the Court of Session as ‘unlawful’, ‘unfair’ and ‘tainted by apparent bias’.”
Salmond’s case was backed by a crowdfunding appeal. His legal costs for the judicial review, including those not fully covered by the court expenses award, are in the process of being paid.
The spokesman added: “When that is completed there is likely to still be a surplus in the crowdfunder which supported his application for judicial review.
“This will be independently audited and distributed to good causes in terms of the commitments previously given by Mr Salmond.”
Donald Cameron MSP, said: “This is taxpayers’ money that will be handed over to Alex Salmond thanks to the appalling way these complaints were dealt with.
“In addition to this wasted money, the two people who made these complaints have been badly let down by the Scottish government.”