I’ve only just heard that Alex Salmond is taking the Scottish Government to court over their handling of two allegations of sexual misbehaviour made against him. I know no more about the details of the allegations than you do, which is no more than has been revealed in the press, but allow me to make a couple of observations.
Firstly, Alex Salmond is taking legal action against the Civil Service because of the way in which they have handled this matter, not Nicola Sturgeon or her cabinet, who have – rightly – no role in this. It’s also important to point out that anyone accused of an offence has the right to the presumption of innocence until proven guilty in a court of law.
That said, we cannot make judgements about the guilt or innocence of anyone who is accused of a sexual offence on the basis of our sympathies with their political views on the Scottish constitution. That applies equally to the political views of the person or persons doing the accusing. If we weaponise this incident for the purposes of point scoring in Scotland’s constitutional debate, we are not taking the issue of sexual aggression seriously. We would not be taking the issue of sexual abuse seriously.
Victims of sexual aggression deserve better than our wild and uninformed speculations, and so do those who are wrongly accused. People who have been subjected to any form of sexual abuse need to feel that if they come forward to report their abuse to the authorities, that they will be treated sympathetically, appropriately, and they will not become pawns in wider topics which are unrelated to the abuse they allege they have suffered. The importance of that cannot be stressed enough.
Finally, and most importantly, while I sincerely hope that further investigation proves that Alex Salmond has done nothing wrong, this incident should have precisely zero influence on the question of whether Scotland should become an independent country. Scottish independence is not predicated on the personal behaviour of any individual.
Resist the temptation to rise to British nationalist taunting. This is not a time for wild conspiracy theories. It is not a time for lashing out. It is most certainly not a time for speculating on the motives or identities of those involved. This is a time to be calm, to be respectful, and to respect the due process which is now taking place. The truth will come out in the end.
Update: Friday 24 August, 8.45pm
I wrote this article in order to counsel calm, to appeal for moderation. I wrote it to advise people not to indulge in conspiracy theories, yet too many are doing exactly that. Please refrain from this or I will, sadly and reluctantly, be forced to close down comments on this article.