Leslie Evans is FM Nicola Sturgeon’s top aide. She is at the top of the civil service in Scotland. When Judge Lord Pentland announced that she and her staff had made decisions in the case against Alex Salmond that were “unlawful in respect that they were procedurally unfair and that they were tainted with apparent bias“, she should have been fired, if that’s possible, or allowed to go quietly pleading illness. She had previously made much of one visit to a mental health practitioner and had been unduly praised for her honesty so that would have been enough.
When a big embarrassing mistake is made, a political aide responsible for it, fall on their sword. It’s expected and then they can expect to be rewarded further down the line with a new job or honours.
Back in 2012, Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s career seemed to be on a shoogly peg after his ‘spad’ Adam Smith got too close to Murdoch’s News Corporation. Before that other trusted aides had fallen on their swords. New Labour aide, Damian McBride was accused of plans to smear Tory MPS and resigned. Jo Moore did the same after suggesting 9/11 as “a very good day to get out anything we want to bury”.
There have been more. Just search for ‘UK political aide resigns’ and you’ll get many more to confirm that the aide always resigns. Here are a few to jog your memory:
So, what’s special about Lesley Evans? Of course, I don’t know the answer because no one outside a small elite group does for sure. There is one obvious explanation though. Evans is a UK Civil Service employee, selected by the HQ in London, to make up a short list, from which the First Minister was allowed to choose one. Evans is only responsible to the head of the UK civil service who, in turn is only responsible to the Prime Minister. So, in the first place, the First Minister does not have the power to sack Evans and thus, if it suits the PM and her representative in Scotland, Governor Mundell, she won’t be sacked by them. Does it suit them? Well, of course it does. Her failure to resign allows the UK Tory Unionist government via the Scottish Loyalist media to exploit the Salmond case instead, in the hope of weakening the SNP. Perhaps, the resuscitation of the accusations against Salmond, after 5 years, suited them too?