David Davis MP discusses invoking parliamentary privilege to share leaked communications regarding Salmond inquiry


As published by the Daily Record:

David Davis MP insists he was ‘very careful’ with claims Nicola Sturgeon knew of Alex Salmond complaints earlier.

The veteran Tory MP said he had been initially sceptical about Salmond conspiracy claims but spent six weeks preparing a speech that protected complainers and, he claimed, uncovered an injustice.

The Tory MP who revealed ‘whistleblower’ information claiming that Nicola Sturgeon knew of the complaints of sexual harassment against Alex Salmond earlier than she stated has insisted he was “very careful” with what he said.

David Davis, a former Brexit Minister, used a Commons debate to make a sensational claim that the First Minister knew before April 2018.

Davis, a veteran MP and civil liberties campaigner, dropped the bombshell allegation in the House of Commons on Tuesday.

He claimed to have leaked communications showing the First Minister’s chief of staff, Liz Lloyd, her closest aide, was not just aware of the complaints against Salmond but was “interfering” in the process.

Although Sturgeon dismissed the speech as “insinuations” and suggested they were part of a conspiracy theory pedalled by Salmond, the Tory MP has insisted he acted properly.

Speaking after his Commons appearance, Davis told the Daily Record: “That 20 minute speech took the best part of six weeks to put together. I was very careful in what I said. You are walking a line between protecting the complainants, and any future complainers, and correcting an injustice.”

The former Minister admitted he had been initially sceptical about Alex Salmond’s claims that he had been the victim of a plot by senior SNP figures to smear and possibly imprison him.

Davis said: “I started off discounting Alex Salmond’s claims because he was under such intense pressure for two years, but the more I looked into it I became convinced.”

In his adjournment debate Davis used parliamentary privilege, which protects MPs from libel laws when they speak in the Commons, to talk about material which had not been aired before.

The Haltemprice and Howden MP told MPs: “I have it on good authority that there exists from the 6th of February 2018, an exchange of messages between civil servants Judith Mackinnon and Barbara Allison suggesting the First Minister’s chief of staff is interfering in the complaints process against Alex Salmond.

“The investigating officer complains, I quote, ‘Liz interference v bad’. I assume that means very bad.”

“If true, this suggests the chief of staff had knowledge of the Salmond case in February, not in April, as she has claimed on oath. The First Minister also tied herself to that April date in both parliamentary and legal statements. She was, of course, aware earlier than that. The question is just how aware and how much earlier?”

At one point in the Commons debate SNP acting chief whip Owen Thomson made a point of order that the identity of witnesses in the complaints process and the subsequent criminal trial against Alex Salmond had to be protected.

But Davis, who has a record as a civil liberties campaigner, said he had been sure of that.

He told the Record: “I have done this about a dozen times or so over the last 20 years and I have always been careful to try and protect the innocent and that was the case last night.”