ANALYSIS

THE statement from the nine female complainants in the Alex Salmond trial was powerful and timely.

No such platform was realistically available to the women, who had to endure endless post-trial coverage in what would have been the worst week of their lives.

Their collective statement addressed the troubling behaviour Salmond’s defence admitted to in court, but which did not lead to a conviction.

It also repeated the view there had been no credible way of complaining at the time about a “powerful figure” like Salmond.

The press release was a reminder of how the days after the trial were portrayed through the lens of Salmond, not the women.

Public debate was dominated by SNP politicians congratulating Salmond, calling for him to be readmitted to the party, and airing the claim he had been the victim of a political conspiracy.

Nicola Sturgeon

However, during these turbulent days I also spoke to SNP figures who were gutted for the women.

They know how hard it is to put yourself through the vagaries of the criminal justice system. They realise the anguish involved in giving evidence in a courtroom.

They are nauseated by the nature of Salmond’s defence and agree with former special adviser Alex Bell’s description of the former First Minister as a “creep”.

Yet, despite their private sympathy for the female witnesses, very few expressed public solidarity. The number of MSPs and MPs who have said anything is startlingly small.

In a lawyerly statement, Nicola Sturgeon restricted herself to saying the verdict "must be respected".

Dealing with the Coronavirus crisis is understandably the top priority, but it should not preclude commenting on other issues of vital public importance.

If SNP politicians can find time to tweet about ducks and football, it should be possible to find a few seconds to comment on the biggest crisis facing the party in decades.

Debunking the absurd notion of an internal SNP conspiracy against Salmond would be a noble place to start.

According to Salmond’s allies, some of the allegations were cooked up by SNP figures who were trying to thwart a political comeback.

This is baloney. In 2018 - when police started their investigation - Salmond was a former politician who had tarnished himself by fronting a show on the Putin-linked RT.

Read More

Scottish politics

He was, to put it charitably, a spent political force. The chances of this damaged figure returning to Holyrood were nil.

It should also be noted that some of the complainants do not know each other’s identities. Not exactly a robust basis for a conspiracy.

If SNP politicians feel uneasy about the trial, now is the time to speak out.