Scotland

How the Salmond story has played out online

When you've got Twitter, YouTube, fundraising sites and hashtags to get your message across, why keep with the tradition of media events, press releases and photo opps? In the Alex Salmond story, the key moments have emerged online first. Here we look back at how events have unfolded.

Daily Record breaks the story online - 23 August

News that allegations of sexual misconduct have made against former Scottish first minister Alex Salmond is broken by the Daily Record to its 114,000 Twitter followers at about 10pm. There is no headline-grabbing front page splash, the tweet simply reads: "Breaking: Alex Salmond reported to cops over allegations of sexual assault. More follows."

The Daily Record's David Clegg, who broke the story, went on to explain why the paper could not wait for its first print edition to preserve its exclusive.

Image caption The former first minister Alex Salmond has been reported to police over claims he sexually assaulted two members of staff, the Daily Record reveals.

Writing about the build up to going public, he says: "With the time now 8pm and the Record's print deadline looming, we contacted Salmond by telephone and asked for his response to the original allegations.

"In a terse conversation, the former SNP leader requested we put the allegations in writing via email. We duly did so.

"Time ticked on. Meanwhile we underwent detailed discussions with our lawyers and decided that we were confident our story was accurate and we would publish, regardless of what, if any, response Salmond gave us.

"Then at 9.32pm an emailed response arrived from Salmond's lawyer.

"Its contents were startling."

Alex Salmond tweets his statement - 23 August

And the "startling contents" are that Mr Salmond will be taking the Scottish government to court to challenge the complaints procedure which had been activated against him.

Just to recap, the claims - which are said to relate to two staff members - date back to December 2013, when Mr Salmond was in office.

The former SNP leader's statement - in which he denies misconduct and says some of the allegations are "patently ridiculous" - is not only sent to the newspaper, but is also tweeted by @AlexSalmond. His official account has 298,397 followers, some 184,000 more than the @Daily_Record.

It's no surprise that a man who has clocked up 45 years in the SNP, led the party on two separate occasions and taken it the closest it has come to Scottish independence, will have the movers and shakers following him on social media.

One influential follower soon reacts to what Mr Salmond has to say.

Nicola Sturgeon responds to Alex Salmond's statement - 24 August

The current first minister and leader of the SNP, Nicola Sturgeon, makes it clear to her 915,936 Twitter followers - including @AlexSalmond - that she had "no role" in the process which examined the allegations.

She says: "My relationship with Mr Salmond obviously makes this an extremely difficult situation for me to come to terms with. I am also acutely aware how upsetting this will be for my party. However, the overriding priority must be to ensure fair and due process."

So, here we have two lengthy statements - one from Mr Salmond and one from Ms Sturgeon. But there is another to come, and this time it's from someone who would not normally enter the public arena.

Leslie Evans, Permanent Secretary of the Scottish Government, makes her statement - 24 August

The principal policy adviser to the first minister and secretary to the Scottish Cabinet is also the most senior civil servant in Scotland and leads more than 5,000 people working for the Scottish government.

Leslie Evans conducted the investigation into the allegations received about Mr Salmond.

Her statement, which runs to some 340 words, reads: "I note that the former first minister has indicated his intention to challenge the actions taken by the Scottish government. His statement contains significant inaccuracies which will be addressed in those court proceedings. The Scottish government will defend its position vigorously.

"You will appreciate that for legal reasons the Scottish government is limited in what can be said.

"The first minister has had no role in this process. I advised her of the conclusions of my investigation on Wednesday [22 August] and she is of course aware that I am making this statement today [24 August].

"As the head of the Civil Service supporting the Scottish government, I have been consistently clear that there is no place for harassment of any kind in the workplace."

Now that that key players have had their say, does the story go quiet?

Further statements about Alex Salmond's SNP membership - 26 August

Despite trying to carry out the day job without distraction, Ms Sturgeon is unable to move away from the Alex Salmond story. At the start of the working week, her cabinet is meeting on the island of Arran, but there is just one thing the media want to talk about.

The first minister's latest statement explains why the SNP will have no role to play in suspending Mr Salmond. She says: "In this case, unlike in some previous cases, the investigation into complaints about Alex Salmond have not been conducted by the SNP and no complaints have been received by the party."

In his communiqué on the matter, Mr Salmond is keen to talk about confidentiality.

He says: "Clearly it [confidentiality] has not been maintained in this case but subject to sustained leaking of the most unfair kind. That helps no-one but harms everyone. It is therefore crucial to find out who in government was responsible."

On Tuesday, 28 August, Mr Salmond formally starts his legal action against the Scottish government, after which the story abates from the news headlines - but not for long.

Alex Salmond resigns from the SNP - 30 August

More breaking news comes on Wednesday evening when the former SNP leader posts a YouTube video explaining that he is resigning from the party he joined nearly half a century ago.

Accompanying that is a tweet headlined: "Salmond puts Scottish independence first".

But read down and you see the kernel of this message - it's an online appeal asking people to financially support his Court of Session legal bill.

The Crowdfunding page, accompanied by the banner #forFairness, sets a target of £50,000 and in less than 24 hours it realises more than £80,000.

A handful of the 3,299 donors each give £1,000.

Ms Sturgeon, who retweeted funding appeals for Rape Crisis and Women's Aid on Thursday morning, says the appeal is a matter for Mr Salmond, who she says is "perfectly entitled to take his own decisions at this stage".

Her twitter timeline also responded to Mr Salmond's departure from the party.

Ms Sturgeon says: "I feel a huge sadness about this whole situation. Alex Salmond has been my friend and mentor for almost 30 years and his contribution to the SNP and the independence movement speaks for itself.

"While the decision to resign has been Alex's alone, I understand why he has chosen to separate the current question he is facing from day to day business of the SNP and the on ongoing campaign for independence."

She goes on to say that there are "many questions" that can only be answered in the "fullness of time".

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