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Government comms chief sent text over Alex Salmond ‘war’, committee told

By Tom Eden, PA Scotland
·2-min read

A Scottish Government director of communications has revealed that she was the recipient of a text from Scotland’s top civil servant about winning a “war” against Alex Salmond.

Barbara Allison had previously insisted she had not received a message from Permanant Secretary Leslie Evans in the wake of Mr Salmond’s successful legal challenge that said: “Battle maybe lost but not the war.”

Under oath before Holyrood’s Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints last month, Ms Allison was questioned by Scottish Labour MSP Jackie Baillie about whether she was the recipient of the text.

Ms Allison, the director for communications for ministerial support and facilities in the Scottish Government, insisted she had no recollection of the message.

But she has now said the Crown Office has provided her with evidence of the exchange between the pair “which they retrieved from my mobile phone in the context of a criminal trial”.

Barbara Allison received the text message from Permanent Secretary Leslie Evans (Jane Barlow/PA)
Barbara Allison received the text message from Permanent Secretary Leslie Evans (Jane Barlow/PA)

Writing to committee convener Linda Fabiani “to correct the unintended inaccuracy”, Ms Allison has disclosed the message she was sent and her same-day reply.

According to the letter, Ms Evans texted the government official while she was on holiday and said: “Thanks Barbara – battle maybe lost but not the war. Hope you are having lovely & well deserved break. L”

Ms Allison replied: “Thanks Leslie. It is lovely here. My mind and thoughts are with you all there tho. Best wishes. Bx”

The two messages were sent on January 8 2019 – the same day Edinburgh’s Court of Session ruled that a Scottish Government investigation into allegations of sexual harassment by the former first minister was “unlawful” and tainted by apparent bias.

Mr Salmond was awarded £512,000 in legal costs as a result of the judicial review.

An inquiry into the government’s handling of the botched investigation was set up and has heard evidence from both women.

Ms Evans, in her testimony, denied being “at war” with Mr Salmond and claimed the text message from her was “misinterpreted”.

Scotland’s most senior civil servant insisted she had not been “referring to any individual” in the message.

Ms Allison is due to give further evidence to the committee on Tuesday morning,