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Leslie Evans and Judith Mackinnon by Calton Jock

Although I have been a supporter of an Independent Scotland for more than fifty years, until now I have refrained from commenting on contemporary politics through my website. I am considering changing this policy. As I do not have the access or diligence of brilliant bloggers such as Craig Murray, Stuart Campbell and Paul Kavanagh I will be restricting myself to reprinting some of their excellent blogs.

The following article on Leslie Evans and Judith Mackinnon was originally posted here by Calton Jock on his blog on 14th January 2019. On 23rd March 2020, Alex Salmond was found not guilty of the fabricated charges against him. The machinations of Evans and Mackinnon should be subjected to public gaze.

Leslie Evans
Leslie Evans Born in Northern Ireland in 1958. Relocated to Sheffield. Attended High Storrs Comprehensive School 1970-76. Gained a degree in Music from Liverpool University. Married Derek McVay 1990. One son.

At School: (her own words, nearly):
Absorbed lots of knowledge. Music important – soft spot David Bowie, likes reggae and dub, Bach + Bartok. Rereads Jane Austen, theatre lover, views Shakespeare regularly. Learnt to like poetry – Sylvia Plath, Jackie Kay, John Donne. Loved history – fascinated with Gender politics. In particular her feminism and yes she is a feminist. Dated back to learning about Elizabeth 1st’s speech at Tilbury, “I know I have the body of a weak, feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king”. Not just knowledge absorbed – learnt to ask not just what or why? But – really? Experience shaped her politics and values, and views about diversity, equality and inclusion. Cultivated skills and capacities and the propensity to be curious, the ability to analyze – the desire to inform opinion and the appetite to question everything. Gained 8 “O” levels in one year. Lost focus in the years following. More interested in partying than studying. Poor “A” level results. Hard to take. Failure brought home the importance of hard work. Despite poor results secured a place studying music at Liverpool University. Not talented or dedicated enough to be professional performer. Used musical skills to earn cash – in orchestra pit and teaching piano. Used music degree as means to end, getting onto a post graduate course in London to get into arts administration. Course included an employment secondment – worked really hard – made herself indispensable – gave up wild life and became totally dependable.

Employment with District councils
Offered employment in arts with local authority in London. Then similar work in Sheffield.
Moved to Edinburgh 1985 – employed with Edinburgh District Council in senior management roles, (1985 and 1987 and from 1989 to 2000).
Ensuring effective delivery of arts, theatre, entertainment and recreation. Similar work with Stirling Council (1988).
On each transfer of employment moved up the management ladder – role and responsibilities became broader and more diverse.
Learnt to seize every opportunity offered – to show enthusiasm – to speak first – to answer yes – to think about whether and how to do it later. Learned to feign confidence – faking it until able to make it.

Edinburgh District Council Scandal -Leslie Evans Nailed In Public
If someone in a position of authority is determined to smear you, it is very difficult to recover. Mud sticks.

Now, it is simply not the done thing for a Councillor to ever criticize an officer at a public meeting. Politicians may only address their concerns to the Head of Department who is paid shed-loads to take the flack. Those below departmental head know they can get away with not owning up to manipulations and misrepresentations, because that is what Department heads are for. Back then, officers didn’t even have their name anywhere in the papers. However, on this rare occasion, Councillor Steve Cardownie stepped over that thin red line and fingered one such officer. “Is it possible”, he thundered, that a very senior officer (there could only be one!) had tampered with the report, thereby undermining its validity and “independence”? You could hear a pin drop. All eyes turned on Leslie Evans, who became bright, bright red with fury and froze, stock still. You could almost see the steam coming out of her ears. Her Video Strategy died before it had lived.

It is said Leslie Evans caused Edinburgh Council to lose millions in the Usher Hall Lottery debacle of ’98, which led to the resignation of Roger Jones, the best and most popular Head of Department the Council ever had. When Roger was forced to resign over the loss, Leslie had the temerity to give him a leaving card comparing him to Churchill – he was a hero, she said. If she truly felt that way, maybe she could have ‘fessed up and taken the rap, resigning in his place? Not our Leslie.

Full Article here:

This is a must read since it provides confirmation of views held by an increasing number of Scots that Leslie Evans is not an appropriate person to hold the position of Permanent Secretary to Scotland’s First minister.

What A Con – The Civil Service and Their Janus Faced Illegal Politics
Leslie Evans reported to Francesca Osowska OBE in David Mundell’s office.

Osowska was formerly Principal Private Secretary (PPS) to the First Minister (Alex Salmond) between 2007/09.
Francesca Osowska, in a number of evasive statements to the Scottish Affairs Committee, glossed over the expensive and extensive work of a large group of (supposedly politically neutral) Civil Servants who actively supported the objectives of the “Better Together” campaign.

A gross misuse of public finances and Civil Servants presumably by David Cameron and Sir Jeremy Heywood.

She also confirmed that Mundell retained funding sufficient to employ up to 100 whole time equivalent (W.T.E.) posts and that salary and incidental costs arising from such employment are (top sliced) from Scotland’s block grant before the allocation of finance to the Scottish government. The slush fund created is an ever increasing annual financial nest egg, skimmed off Scotland’s block financial grant and used, abused by the Mundell for purposes such as UK government anti-devolution leaflet production, printing and distribution. And Hiring of Special Advisors (SpAds), usually sons, daughters, other relations, friends of ministers or other MP’s and employment of Civil Servants from other Government Departments in times of need.

Reflect also on the disgraceful actions of the UK Cabinet Office and Treasury Civil servants which contain the proud admission that they had been seconded to the Scottish Office (in Westminster) and were tasked, for an extended period of time to provide active support to the “Better Together” campaign. Actions that brought about the defeat of Scots who wished only to be an independent nation once again. What a bunch of charlatans.

Full Article here:
Full Article here:

Civil Service (CS):
Joined CS in 2000 soon after devolution – new Scottish Executive. Early 40s represented a major career change – big risk. But had gained experience in public service with local government – government service a cakewalk? – not so – miserable at work – didn’t seem to add value or make any difference. First year fish out of water. Held nerve – stayed resilient.

Permanent Secretary Scottish Government
The retirement of the permanent Secretary to the Scottish Government, Sir Peter Housden created a vacancy within the Civil Service. Insiders had briefed that Sir Jeremy Heywood had been livid over the behavior of Housden during the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum, when he was accused of betraying the Westminster Civil Service brief by “going native”.
The competition to succeed him was overseen by the First Civil Service Commissioner and open to candidates across the UK civil service, including in Whitehall. Ms Sturgeon was presented with a shortlist of suitable candidates well vetted by Whitehall and (hobson's choice perhaps) selected Ms Evans.
Evans was appointed as Permanent Secretary to the Scottish Government on July 1, 2015. In this role, she is the principal policy adviser to the First Minister and Secretary to the Scottish Cabinet. She is also the Principal Accountable Officer for the Scottish Government with personal responsibility for the propriety and regularity of Government finance and for economic, efficient and effective use of all related resources.

Evans is the senior Civil Servant in Scotland and leads more than 5,000 civil servants working for the Scottish Government, supporting development, implementation and communication of government policies, in accordance with the Civil Service Code. She joined the Scottish Government in September 2000, having spent 20 years working for local authorities in Scotland (City of Edinburgh Council and Stirling Council) and England (London Borough of Greenwich and Sheffield City Council). Her previous post within the Scottish Government was Director General Learning and Justice. Other positions held include, Head of Local Government Constitution & Governance Division, Head of Public Service Reform Group, Head of Tourism, Culture and Sport, and Director of Culture, External Affairs and Tourism.

Sir Peter Housden was also criticized by Commons select committee for allowing the publication of swathes of Alex Salmond’s White Paper on independence that were politically “partisan” and failed to meet “factual standards”. And a Westminster public administration committee said he should not have allowed taxpayers’ money to be used to publish sections that amounted to an SNP “agenda”. The recruitment and appointment process of the new Permanent Secretary was tasked to the offices of the “First Civil Service Commissioner”, based in Whitehall so that the Westminster government would assured the appointment of their preferred candidate. So as to be satisfied there would be no repeat of the conduct of Sir Peter Housden one of the new Permanent Secretary’s key tasks would be to rebuild trust with Holyrood’s opposition parties and Whitehall mandarins. Leslie Evans is the Westminster Government’s “safe pair of hands” at Holyrood. Over time she will add other Senior managers of the same ilk to her team, effectively emasculating the Scottish Government at Holyrood.

Salmond’s Nark Has Fallen Foul Of The Whitehall Mandarins
What do Whitehall’s top people do when one of their own goes native? When he breaks the code of the mandarins, stops giving his minister unwelcome advice and fails to say “No, Minister” What they do is exclude him from their inner counsels – as we can see in the strange case of Sir Peter Housden. Housden, 61, is permanent secretary – top civil servant – to the Scottish government and his political boss is First Minister Alex Salmond. Officially, he is no different to the other permanent secretaries and regularly attends their Wednesday morning meetings in Whitehall. Unofficially, though, they regard him – there’s no nice way to put this – as “Salmond’s nark”. He is not on the crucial committee that is bringing together Whitehall’s campaign against Scottish independence. “Good God, no,” said one insider in shocked tones. “Housden would just report everything back to Salmond.”

Full Article here:

Sir Peter Housden Faces Fresh Accusations of Partisanship
The head of Scotland’s Civil Service faced fresh accusations of being politically partisan last night after he told thousands of his officials that he expected Alex Salmond to emerge victorious in the independence referendum. Sir Peter Housden circulated a briefing, in which he informed civil servants that he expected “substantial negotiations” with UK ministers after the ballot — all but dismissing the prospect of an SNP defeat. Sir Peter, the Scottish Executive’s permanent secretary and Alex Salmond’s most senior mandarin, predicted that the referendum process would have several stages and told his civil servants that they “don’t need to swallow this elephant whole” as it would “stretch now over a good number of years”. He then considered what would happen after the referendum and predicted: “The other side of a referendum is likely to involve substantial negotiations.” He continued that it “will certainly require a major constitutional bill in the Westminster parliament to reflect a positive result”. He did not spell out why he believed the SNP would win in the face of opinion polls that show only about a third of Scots would vote for separation. Opposition leaders last night renewed their accusations that Sir Peter, who remains part of the British civil service, had “gone native”. The code governing officials prevents them expressing political views or advice.

Full Article here:

Independence White Paper Failed To Meet Civil Service Standards
Scotland’s most senior mandarin should have blocked the publication of swathes of Alex Salmond’s White Paper on independence that were politically “partisan” and failed to meet “factual standards”, according to a damning report. The Commons Public Administration select committee said Sir Peter Housden, the Scottish Government’s permanent secretary, should not have allowed taxpayers’ money to be used to publish parts of the blueprint that amounted to an SNP “agenda”. At “the very least”, the committee found that Sir Peter should have sought a “letter of direction” from Mr Salmond, a document requested by civil servants when they disagree with a minister’s decision so strongly that they refuse to be accountable for it.

Judith Mackinnon
Judith Mackinnon In 2016 Nicola Sturgeon announced that “open government” would be a feature of the Holyrood parliament and new policies were to be put in place.

Leslie Evans had no personnel management qualifications and needed to strengthen her team. In 2017 she recruited Judith Mackinnon, an experienced human resources manager, to a newly created, (very well remunerated) “Head of People Advice” position. This is the same person that was previously Head of Human Resource Governance at Police Scotland. Hardly a recommendation for employment in the Scottish Government given the many scandals in the force in the years she was in post.

Leslie Evans approached Nicola Sturgeon with proposals to draft new procedures in line with the Scottish Governments transparency in government drive. Authority gained, Judith Mackinnon compiled the policy document, which was duly signed off by Nicola Sturgeon in December 2017.
(One wonders if the First Minister actually read the document or realised its purpose?

One one month later, in January 2018, two complaints were made of sexual harassment against Alex Salmond under the new rules. The incidents were alleged to have taken place at Bute House in 2013.

The Alex Salmond Debacle
Alex Salmond - Getty images It was almost as though there had been “malice aforethought” and complainants had been waiting for the new rules to come into force. There certainly seems to have been no attempt to make the accusation until the policy was active, protecting the accusers from exposure.

No matter the outcome of any subsequent investigation, the political damage to the SNP government would be considerable at a time when a new Scottish Independence Referendum was being mooted.

Alex Salmond was not made aware of the complaints despite the procedure requiring him to be informed, but Evans briefed Nicola Sturgeon and made a Police report. The police investigation is on-going but there is justifiable concern that the appointment of an investigating police officer to lead the investigation might have been arranged!!!! determining the outcome.

Supported by £100K “crown funding”, Alex instructed legal action against the Scottish Civil Service for the breach of procedure which gave the impression it had been deliberately enacted to damage Alex and the SNP.

At court the Scottish Government accepted that there had been significant procedural errors in the handling of the complaints. The Judge rebuked the Government and instructed that the matter should be closed. Costs of the proceedings (possibly around £500K) were charged to the government.

The procedural errors:
The sequence of events was suspicious
Complaints were made against Alex Salmond by two female staff about alleged incidents they said occurred in 2013 (four years after the event) and only one month after the new procedures had been put in place.
The government follow up investigation revealed that the recently appointed personnel professional, Judith Mackinnon (who had no direct management authority over them), had solicited the complaints against Alex Salmond, from the two female officers. She then spoke to them, at length on a number of occasions, in a manner “bordering on encouragement to proceed with formal complaints” against Alex Salmond.

The Government legal team further accepted there had been a “significant amount of inappropriate direct personal contact” between Mackinnon and the complainants. Evans stated that the nature of the complaints had been brought to her attention by Mackinnon and she appointed Mackinnon to formally investigate the matter and take the appropriate action as required by the new procedure. But in doing so Evans compromised the procedures she and Mackinnon had only recently put in place!

Stuart Campbell blogged on March 23rd 2020:
"A mostly-female jury drawn in its entirety from the most Unionist city in Scotland delivered the only verdict it was credibly possible to reach on the (total absence of) evidence before them: that Alex Salmond was not guilty on all charges."

Stuart went on to write "After two weeks hearing an assortment of lurid allegations from former friends and colleagues hidden behind cloaks of public anonymity, the jury – having been advised by the prosecuting counsel that they were the sole arbiters of fact – decided that there was no truth to them.

Since the two most serious charges, in particular, were both matters of the accuser’s word against that of the accused, and the two parties gave completely irreconcilable accounts of the facts (rather than competing interpretations of agreed events), it can only be the case that one side was lying absolutely, and the jury decided that it was the anonymous accusers who were doing so. It remains to see whether there will be a legal reckoning for those lies. But more than one sort of reckoning will surely follow from these events. Because to the surprise of many Yessers who considered the whole trial a Unionist conspiracy, it transpired that in fact every accusation had come from people who’d been on Alex Salmond’s own team – either his political colleagues or his staff.

The Scottish Government and the notionally-Scottish civil service had first colluded on a private investigation which was both so ham-fisted and so unlawfully biased that it collapsed in a shambles which has cost the Scottish taxpayer over £600,000. Even the Times – no cheerleader for Alex Salmond by a very long chalk – was so appalled at the flagrant crookedness of the proceedings that it called for the head of Leslie Evans, permanent secretary to the Scottish Government and the most senior civil servant in Scotland.

The fact that Evans’ catastrophically botched and dishonest inquiry did not, in the end, bring about the imprisoning of an innocent man for several years is one of the few meagre positives of this entire fiasco. But the ordeal which Alex Salmond has been forced through for the last several years is one which someone, or several someones, ought in any fair society to be made answerable for.

That this trial ever reached a court is a gravely worrying matter. Allegations of serious sexual assault must always be taken seriously and investigated fully, but what the trial revealed is that not a shred of evidence supported any of the charges in the case.

Scots law uniquely requires corroboration, and despite several of the alleged offences supposedly occurring in full public view in locations thronged with people, not a solitary witness observed any of them. The Crown’s only hope of securing a prosecution was therefore to rely on the enormously disturbing “Moorov doctrine”, a 90-year-old facet of Scots law whereby the prosecution collecting sufficient unproven innuendos together somehow magically transforms them into solid evidence.

In order to avail itself of this sorcery, the prosecution trawled three decades of Alex Salmond’s political life at both Westminster and Holyrood, interviewing close to 400 people, and managed to scrape up a derisory handful of allegations – all but one from a four-year period between 2010 and 2014, the exception being from 2008 – of such startling triviality that many observers found themselves unable to believe such things could ever be considered crimes.

By a remarkable coincidence these allegations came to light in August 2018 – shortly after Alex had signalled his intent to return to politics

The Scottish media, it probably goes without saying, covered itself in disgrace during the trial. Reports from the courtroom were extraordinarily selective, and always selective in favour of the prosecution.

Observers suspected of harbouring sympathies for the defence rather than the prosecution were simply excluded from the court for most of the proceedings. Fortunately the jury heard what the Scottish public were not told."