Ex Scotland leader resigns from party amid sexual harassment allegations

Alex Salmond

Alex Salmond

Former SNP leader Alex Salmond has resigned from the party he headed for 20 years amid allegations of sexual harassment.

A number of politicians have today attacked Mr Salmond, with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also urging people to donate to Women's Aid.

He revealed he would be stepping down from the party while the investigation takes place.

"For my part I have always thought it a very poor idea to suspend any party member on the basis of complaints and allegations", Salmond said.

"Most of all I am conscious that if the party is forced into suspending me it would cause substantial internal division", Salmond said.

At the same time he launched a crowd-funding appeal to raise 50,000 pounds ($65,000) to help pay his legal costs against the Scottish government over its handling of the misconduct complaints against him.

He is taking the Scottish Government to court after lodging plans for a judicial review on how the Government has handled the complaints against him, and the process by which they were reported.

The move comes after it emerged last week that two complaints were raised in January against the former first minister alleging sexual harassment while he was in office in 2013.

He said he believes Sturgeon "feels under pressure from other political parties" to suspend him from the SNP's leadership.

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The allegations have been investigated by the Scottish Government and details handed to police, who say they are assessing the information.

Salmond said his resignation was an effort to remove a potential line of attack against the SNP, and said he planned to reapply for membership after he cleared his name.

Mr Salmond returned to frontline politics when he was elected as the SNP MP for Gordon in 2015 and became the party's foreign affairs spokesman at Westminster before losing the seat in the snap general election two years later.

Referring to recent allegations about his conduct, Alex Salmond said: "So let me be clear again".

'I refute these two complaints of harassment and I absolutely reject any suggestion of criminality.

Earlier this week, he wrote to Scotland's top civil servant, calling for an inquiry into how the allegations against him were made public. He resigned as first minister and SNP leader following the defeat of the Yes campaign which he led in the 18 September ballot, and was replaced in both roles by Sturgeon.

The Government previously said its investigation into two complaints against Mr Salmond has been "entirely confidential throughout".

He said: "My entire focus for the next few weeks is preparing for Judicial Review, against the Permanent Secretary to the Scottish Government, the initial stages of which began yesterday".

"Scotland now faces the incredible and unprecedented situation of its most famous former First Minister appealing to SNP supporters for cash to take legal action against the government he used to run".

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