Former Political Leader Of Scotland Is Facing Allegations Of Sexual Misconduct
AILSA CHANG, HOST:
The former political leader of Scotland is facing allegations of sexual misconduct, but Alex Salmond is responding with a novel approach. He is suing the government investigating him and crowdfunding his effort. His tactics has triggered a backlash. NPR's Frank Langfitt has the latest.
FRANK LANGFITT, BYLINE: Salmond, who's a larger-than-life figure in Scottish politics, began requesting donations on Wednesday. He's now raised more than $120,000 from more than 4,000 donors, far exceeding his goal. Two government staffers claim when Salmond was Scotland's first minister, he sexually harassed them, which Salmond vehemently denies. Salmond says the government won't let him see the evidence against him, while details have been leaked to the press. Salmond's now suing the Scottish government he once ran, arguing the investigative process is unfair. Here he is speaking on YouTube.
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ALEX SALMOND: I believe that all such issues must be treated seriously, confidentially and through a fair process. In this case, confidentiality has been broken, greatly to my detriment, but also in a way which puts now at serious risk the anonymity of both complainants. It urgently needs to be established who breached that duty of confidence and why.
LANGFITT: Some have criticized Salmond's campaign as a power play designed to intimidate the current or future complainants. Suzanne Moore is a columnist for Britain's Guardian newspaper.
SUZANNE MOORE: The message that women are being given is, you know, you are taking on a big, big network of power once you make these allegations. And I think it's already hard enough to do that.
LANGFITT: Moore also thinks Salmond's use of crowdfunding is inappropriate.
MOORE: I usually think of crowdfunding being for charity or sometimes for people whose individual circumstances mean they need a bit of help. To see a powerful, wealthy politician use it made me feel very, very uneasy.
LANGFITT: Salmond led the Scottish National Party, known as the SNP, and championed the failed 2014 referendum for Scottish independence. He resigned from the party this week, saying he didn't want the accusations against him to tear it apart. Iain Macwhirter is a political commentator for the Scottish newspaper the Herald.
IAIN MACWHIRTER: He managed to avoid an absolute - a split in the movement over his departure from the SNP, but he has apparently created a kind of gender divide in the politics.
LANGFITT: Macwhirter doesn't see Salmond as exploiting his power - Salmond no longer holds political office - but simply defending himself.
MACWHIRTER: The fact that he's challenging the - this process in the courts doesn't necessarily mean he's attacking the women who made the complaint. They did so under complete anonymity and have the full resources of the Scottish government behind them.
LANGFITT: Salmond's case against the government will be heard in the Court of Session, Scotland's supreme civil court, this fall. Frank Langfitt, NPR News, London.
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