Scotland politics

Alex Salmond refers Scottish government to data watchdog

Alex Salmond Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Alex Salmond called for the Scottish government's permanent secretary Leslie Evans to consider her position in light of his win at the Court of Session

Alex Salmond has reported the Scottish government to a data protection body after details of sexual harassment allegations against him appeared in the media.

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) said it was looking into concerns raised by the former first minister.

Mr Salmond wants to know how the claims, which he strenuously denies, got into the public domain.

The Scottish government has said it had found no evidence of a data breach.

News of the watchdog's involvement comes after Mr Salmond won a legal challenge against the Scottish government which admitted acting unlawfully while investigating sexual harassment claims against him.

The former SNP leader wrote to the Scottish government's permanent secretary Leslie Evans in August last year, shortly after the allegations against him emerged, calling for an investigation into what he described as the leaking of information as part of a confidential process.

Mr Salmond was dissatisfied with the government's response and referred the matter to the ICO, an independent UK-wide body responsible for ensuring data protection laws are upheld.

The ICO said: "Mr Salmond is happy for us to confirm he has raised a concern with the ICO and we are currently making enquiries with the Scottish government."

The claims were made public in August, when details of the investigation were passed to the Daily Record newspaper.

'Entirely confidential'

The Scottish government said it carried out a review of the handling of Mr Salmond's data and said there was no evidence of any breaches.

A government spokesman said the process for considering the allegations against Mr Salmond was ongoing for eight months and had been "kept entirely confidential throughout that period".

He added: "The Scottish government has never commented on the content of the allegations against Mr Salmond and we will not do so.

"As a precaution and in line with our legal obligations, we instructed a detailed review into our handling of Mr Salmond's data in August, 2018.

"We are satisfied that information relating to this case has been processed in accordance with our legal and information handling obligations, and that there is no evidence of any data breach.

"We are currently in the process of sharing this information with the Information Commissioner."

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The former first minister outside the Court of Session where he won his case against the Scottish government

Speaking at the time he sent his letter to the permanent secretary calling for a review, Mr Salmond said: "Confidentiality is at the heart of a just procedure and is necessary for both complainers and those complained about.

"If it is breached, then who is going to complain in future with confidence and how can the person complained about secure any fairness?"

At First Minister's Questions, Ms Sturgeon denied conspiring against or colluding with Mr Salmond over the sexual harassment allegations against him.

Opposition leaders questioned why she met the former first minister after the allegations were made, and why no minutes were taken.

Ms Sturgeon - who repeatedly insisted that she did not attempt to intervene in the investigation process - revealed that the Scottish government's chief of staff, Liz Lloyd, had been present during one of the meetings and that Mr Salmond was also represented.

Opposition parties are calling for Scottish Parliament to be allowed to investigate these meetings and how the allegations against Mr Salmond were handled.

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