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Alex Salmond raises £75,000 amid sexual harassment accusations

SCOTTISH Labour accused former first minister Alex Salmond today of “dragging Scotland into the gutter” for waging legal action against Holyrood amid sexual harassment allegations made against him.

Mr Salmond quit the SNP on Wednesday and within hours had exceeded his £50,000 fundraising target for his legal challenge against the Scottish government over its handling of the allegations that he has strongly denied.

By noon yesterday, his crowd-funder had raised more than £75,000.

Labour MSP and Scottish Labour women’s spokeswoman Rhoda Grant said: “That an independently wealthy man with his celebrity and political power is to raise legal fees through a crowd-funder for a case ultimately linked to sexual harassment is unbelievable.

“It suggests that he is sending a signal to those who have made allegations that he has the upper hand.

“Decent people will rightly be furious that he is to raise money to take the Scottish government to court.

“Alex Salmond is abusing his power and dragging Scotland into the gutter.”

Mr Salmond, who was Scotland’s longest-serving first minister, announced he was giving up his SNP membership after 45 years to avoid sparking internal party divisions in an online video message.

He stressed his “absolute intention” to reapply for membership “just as soon as I have had the opportunity to clear my name.”

Two complaints were raised in January against him and he was informed of an investigation in March.

He is now taking action against the Scottish government, with papers lodged at the Court of Session in Edinburgh on Tuesday.

First Minister and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon voiced her “huge sadness” over Mr Salmond’s decision to leave the party.

She had previously faced calls from opposition parties to suspend Mr Salmond after the allegations emerged, but she insisted there was “no legal basis” to do so.

The allegations relating to Mr Salmond’s conduct towards two staff members in 2013, while he was in office, emerged last week and have been passed onto Police Scotland.

Earlier this week, Mr Salmond wrote to Scotland’s top civil servant Permanent Secretary Leslie Evans calling for an inquiry into how the allegations against him were leaked to the public.

“In this case confidentiality has been broken greatly to my detriment and in a way which puts at serious risk the anonymity of both complainants,” he said in the message.

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