Scotland’s leadership has “failed”, Alex Salmond has told a Holyrood inquiry into the SNP government’s unlawful investigation of sexual harassment claims made against him.
The former first minister said Nicola Sturgeon’s administration had “acted illegally” in its handling of the allegations “but somehow no one’s to blame”.
Mr Salmond said “this inquiry is not about me” but about the “unacceptable conduct” around the handling complaints against him.
He is testifying on the botched government investigation which was found to be “tainted by apparent bias” after it emerged the investigating officer had prior contact with two of the women who made complaints.
Mr Salmond said: “I have no incentive or advantage in revisiting the hurt and shock of the last three years. For two years and six months this has been a nightmare.
“I have every desire to move on, to turn the page, to resist talking yet again about a series of events which have been amongst the most wounding that any person can face.
“But the reason I am here today is because we can’t turn that page, nor move on, until the decision-making which is undermining the system of government in Scotland is addressed.”
Mr Salmond also claimed the committee in its inquiry had been “systematically deprived of the evidence it has legitimately sought” and had been asked to do its job “with both hands tied behind its back and a blindfold on”.
He added: “Scotland hasn’t failed, its leadership has failed.
“The importance of this inquiry is for each and everyone of us to help put this right.”
He said: “I note that the first minister asserts I have to prove a case, I don’t. That has already been done. There have been two court cases, two judges, one jury.
“In this inquiry it is the Scottish government, a government which has already admitted to behaving unlawfully, who are under examination.”
Mr Salmond, who was acquitted of 13 charges of sexual assault in a criminal trial, was awarded a £512,250 payout after he successfully challenged the lawfulness of the government investigation into harassment claims made against him.
Ms Sturgeon has previously insisted there is “not a shred of evidence” that there was a conspiracy against Mr Salmond and she has denied lying to Parliament.
The current first minister is scheduled to appear before the committee to give evidence next Wednesday.