The Liberty Of Wallace

At the climax of a popular and multiple-Oscar-winning movie from 1995, the Scottish leader William Wallace is portrayed heroically roaring the word “FREEDOM!”

Unfortunately, at the time he’s bound by ropes to a wooden table, having been hanged until half-dead and then had his intestines torn out with a knife shortly before someone lops his head off with an axe, cuts his body into several parts and displays them on spikes all around Scotland as a warning to anyone who might seek its independence.

It’s in this sense that we’re forced to assume the Scottish Government has interpreted the word “freedom” in the phrase “freedom of information”.

Because in relation to information about its investigation of false allegations of sexual harassment against the former First Minister Alex Salmond, the Scottish Government seems determined to keep the truth tied to a table and torture it until it’s dead too.

Let’s have a recap.

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8 OCTOBER 2020

Scottish Government denies hiding documents about the investigation from the search function on its Freedom Of Information website, despite being provided with a list of 16 such documents which evade all text searches, when those same searches work for documents about anything else.

8 OCTOBER 2020

Scottish Government denies holding any information about a meeting between Nicola Sturgeon and Geoff Aberdein on 29 March 2018, despite already having published official documents confirming that the meeting took place.

The First Minister had previously claimed on 4 August 2020 that she “had forgotten that this encounter had taken place until I was reminded of it in, I think, late January/early February 2019“.

16 SEPTEMBER 2020

Scottish Government refuses to provide information regarding supposed civil service policy relating to allegations against Alex Salmond.

16 SEPTEMBER 2020

Scottish Government refuses to provide details of its legal advice regarding the judicial inquiry brought by Alex Salmond.

31 JULY 2020

Scottish Government denies knowing anything about a meeting between Nicola Sturgeon and Geoff Aberdein on 29 March 2018. (Like all the other denials prior to 8 October, this document CANNOT be found on the Scottish Government’s FOI page by searching for the word “Aberdein”.)

30 JUNE 2020

Scottish Government publishes First Minister’s diary for 29 March 2018, containing no mention of meeting with Geoff Aberdein. It also publishes a completely blank diary page for her chief of staff, Liz Lloyd, on the same date.

19 JUNE 2020

Scottish Government flatly refuses to answer 12 questions concerning meetings between Nicola Sturgeon, Alex Salmond and Geoff Aberdein, who arranged them, who was present and what was discussed. In most of the 12 cases it does not even provide a reason for the refusal.

4 JUNE 2020

Scottish Government refuses to answer several questions relating to the allegations against Alex Salmond, in particular concerning the Permanent Secretary, Leslie Evans.

(Evans, curiously, also has a habit of “forgetting” meetings attended relating to the allegations against Mr Salmond, this time involving Liz Lloyd.)

16 DECEMBER 2019

Scottish Government refuses to say whether it has assisted any investigation into the leak to the Daily Record in August 2018 of confidential information relating to the allegations against Alex Salmond.

26 NOVEMBER 2019

Scottish Government refuses to provide details regarding its legal advice about the judicial inquiry brought by Mr Salmond in respect of the allegations, or about the contractual arrangements of Leslie Evans.

25 SEPTEMBER 2019

Scottish Government refuses to disclose information relating to its legal advice in connection with the judicial inquiry brought by Alex Salmond.

13 SEPTEMBER 2019

Scottish Government refuses to provide details of communications between the First Minister and Liz Lloyd, between August 2018 and January 2019 on the subject of the allegations against Alex Salmond, citing cost reasons.

It also refuses to detail the costs to the Scottish taxpayer of the judicial inquiry raised and won by Mr Salmond, and numerous other requested pieces of information.

13 SEPTEMBER 2019

Scottish Government refuses to provide details of its legal costs relating to the judicial inquiry brought by Alex Salmond.

10 SEPTEMBER 2019

Scottish Government refuses to provide details of legal costs relating to the judicial inquiry brought by Alex Salmond.

10 SEPTEMBER 2019

Scottish Government refuses to provide details of its internal legal costs relating to the judicial inquiry brought by Alex Salmond.

10 SEPTEMBER 2019

Scottish Government refuses to provide details of legal costs relating to the judicial inquiry brought by Alex Salmond.

23 MAY 2019

Scottish Government refuses to provide details of any communications between Liz Lloyd (or other Scottish Government staff) and the Daily Record newspaper in August 2018, when the Record broke the story of allegations against Alex Salmond.

13 FEBRUARY 2019

Scottish Government refuses 31 of 32 requests for details of the Liz Lloyd’s diary, on various dates between January and August 2018. No reason is given for the refusal. The only information disclosed from the 32nd request is which newspapers Lloyd claimed expenses for on 2 April 2018.

13 FEBRUARY 2019

In response to a request for details of the First Minister’s diary on 2 April 2018, Scottish Government again provides a completely blank sheet of paper.

It also declines to provide information for several other dates.

8 FEBRUARY 2019

Scottish Government publishes Liz Lloyd’s diaries for five dates in April, June and July 2018. The entry for 2 April does NOT include mention of any meetings with the First Minister, Alex Salmond or Geoff Aberdein.

This is despite the First Minister subsequently telling Parliament that she had held a meeting at her private Glasgow home with all three of them on this date, from which her husband, the SNP’s chief executive Peter Murrell, had been excluded because it was government rather than party business.

7 FEBRUARY 2019

Scottish Government refuses to answer questions regarding the conduct of the initial investigation into allegations against Alex Salmond.

20 SEPTEMBER 2018

Scottish Government refuses to answer any of six questions relating to the allegations against Alex Salmond, or even to confirm or deny holding information.

20 SEPTEMBER 2018

Scottish Government refuses to provide information relating to possible complaints about the conduct of Alex Salmond.

20 SEPTEMBER 2018

Scottish Government refuses to provide details of any communications between the First Minister and a special adviser relating to allegations against Alex Salmond.

20 SEPTEMBER 2018

Scottish Government refuses to provide details of communications between the First Minister, Leslie Evans and Peter Murrell relating to allegations against Alex Salmond.

20 SEPTEMBER 2018

Scottish Government refuses to confirm or deny holding information regarding communications between government officials and civil servants relating to allegations against Alex Salmond.

20 SEPTEMBER 2018

Scottish Government refuses to provide details of communications between ministers and staff relating to the allegations against Alex Salmond.

20 SEPTEMBER 2018

Scottish Government refuses to confirm or deny holding any information regarding communications between the First Minister and Alex Salmond on any subject in 2018.

20 SEPTEMBER 2018

Scottish Government refuses to confirm or deny holding any information regarding communications between the First Minister, Leslie Evans and Alex Salmond on any subject in 2018.

20 SEPTEMBER 2018

Scottish Government refuses to answer eight questions relating to communications between the First Minister and Alex Salmond in relation to allegations against him. 

20 SEPTEMBER 2018

Scottish Government refuses to confirm or deny holding any information regarding communications between the First Minister, Peter Murrell, Alex Salmond and any other Scottish Government ministers or staff relating to the allegations against Mr Salmond.

20 SEPTEMBER 2018

Scottish Government refuses to confirm or deny holding any information regarding communications between the First Minister and Alex Salmond regarding allegations against him in 2018.

20 SEPTEMBER 2018

Scottish Government refuses to confirm or deny holding any information regarding the outcome of any discussions between the First Minister and Alex Salmond regarding allegations against him in 2018.

20 SEPTEMBER 2018

Scottish Government denies Nicola Sturgeon knew anything about the allegations against Alex Salmond before April 2018. (Also here.)

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When his head is detached, incidentally, Wallace finally releases his grasp on the blood-soaked document he’d been clutching tightly in his fist.

We make this observation without comment.

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