Alex Salmond, former SNP leader and First Minister of Scotland, has resigned from the SNP.
BBC Newsnight said tonight that Salmond had always disagreed with suspending persons under allegation of misconduct, and that a presumption of innocence should prevail. This is an additional feature of his complaint against the disciplinary procedure to which he is subject, and which he is now challenging by Judicial Review. Jeremy Corbyn faces the same issue in the Labour Party and has resisted suspending people until due process has been followed. Suspension can itself influence proceedings as momentum builds against an accused person.
This draws attention to a more general error, when party leaders have expelled politicians on air for making politically incorrect remarks. David Cameron did this with Conservative candidate Philip Lardner in 2010, boasting that he had acted ‘within minutes’, and Nigel Farage did so with a UKIP councillor. It is part of the well-known behaviour of any institution which sacrifices the individual in order to protect the institution. I call this ‘the Caiaphas principle’, after the high priest Caiaphas who said about the murder of Jesus Christ: ‘it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people and not that the whole nation should perish’ Jn 11:50. It is very common institutional behaviour, as whistleblowers discover to their cost.
BBC Newsnight said that Salmond claims that natural justice has been denied him by the disciplinary method to which he has been subject.
In addition he is using a crowdfunder campaign to pay for the Judicial Review. I have previously drawn attention to 1. the financial injustice of unequal access to the law in Scotland and to 2. the effect of prosecuting celebrities and those in public life upon improving legislation. However, the inequality still exists because the average person is unlikely to secure enough financial support by crowdfunding and, besides, should not have to.
29 Aug 2018: Alex Salmond’s full resignation statement.
8 Jan 2019: Good news for Alex Salmond. Lord Pentland at the Court of Session found the investigation was unlawful, “procedurally unfair and tainted by apparent bias”. However, it is questionable if a lesser individual would have had the capacity to challenge the Scottish Government before the Court of Session. Salmond admits that without crowdfunding he would have been unable to defend himself. He writes in an open letter:
“Many thousands of people have written to me over the last few months, which has been a great source of encouragement. Some have had heart rending stories of battles against injustice and brutal officialdom. After my recent experience, I will be doing my very best to help.” Alex Salmond
10 Jan 2019: Pressure on Nicola Sturgeon about her role in the investigation.
10 Jan 2019: Alex Salmond is turning the tables on the Scottish Government to investigate leaks about his case.