Alex Salmond sexual harassment scandal and the forgotten injustice – Tom Richmond

MY thoughts turned to Molly Godley – and the injustice being suffered by the pensioner and her family – as classified documents and legal advice continue to be published in the Alex Salmond sexual harassment scandal in Scotland.

This was Molly Godley during a visit to Strathclyde Police after her son Ian's murder in February 1998. Photo: Exeter Express & Echo.
This was Molly Godley during a visit to Strathclyde Police after her son Ian's murder in February 1998. Photo: Exeter Express & Echo.

You probably don’t know her. She’s a Yorkshire-born nurse, one of the kindest and most humble people I have met, whose son Ian, a former solider, was killed in a callous arson attack in Kilmarnock in February 1998.

She lived in Exeter, where I was working at the time, and I came to know her in the aftermath of her son’s death and the charging of two juveniles, aged 11 and 14, with his murder.

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They were two of the youngest people ever to be charged with such a serious crime in Scotland. Yet, within months, the Crown Office – one of the bodies that is so central to the Salmond inquiry – had dropped the case.

Molly Godley when she tried to meet Scotland's Procuratior Fiscal. Photo: Exeter Express & Echo.

Yet non-disclosure rules meant Mrs Godley was never given an explanation for a decision made even more perverse, and perplexing, by Strathclyde Police’s refusal to reopen its inquiry after petrol had been poured through her son’s letterbox while he slept at night.

It was not for the lack of trying. I accompanied the pensioner on two trips to Scotland, the latter to Holyrood to meet MSPs, to meet the relevant officials and plead her case. All she received in return was sympathy – and the mantra that the “law is the law”.

She enlisted the help of Tony Blair – 
the then Prime Minister took up the cudgels to no avail – while public figures as eminent as David Blunkett and Sir William Macpherson, who presided over the Stephen Lawrence inquiry, were supportive. A top solicitor wrote letters and offered his expertise free of charge. All a grieving mother wanted to know was who killed her son and why had the case been dropped.

It’s probably the story I’m most proud to have covered in my career because it was a privilege to know Mrs Godley. It is also, with the passage of time, one of the most heartbreaking because I believe I failed her at a time when the rights of victims was beginning to come to the fore. We did not get justice – or the answers Mrs Godley sought – and I fear it is too late. When I last heard, dementia was taking a cruel hold on a courageous lady who had, for years, been beset by arthritis.

Molly Godley on the steps of the flat wghere her son Ian, a former solider, was killed in an arson attack.

But I never stop thinking about Mrs Godley – dear Molly – whenever Scotland is in the news and I admit that I’ve shed tears of anger as the Salmond case, and his festering feud with Nicola Sturgeon, his successor as First Minister, reaches a bitter and convoluted denouement.

In fairness, Labour controlled Scotland at the time of the Godley case – Salmond became First Minister only in 2007.

Yet my point is this. If the Scottish legal system can effectively rewrite its rules in this high-profile instance, why could it not have done so for Molly Godley who even volunteered to sign a confidentiality agreement in order to ascertain the truth surrounding her son’s death?

I’m afraid phrases like “double standards” and “rank hypocrisy” don’t even do justice to the rage I feel at this week’s turn of events. I’m simply disgusted at yet another example of politicians, and those in power, putting themselves before those they purport to serve and preside over. People as harmless as Molly Godley.

This was Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland's First Minister, giving evidence to the Alex Salmond inquiry this week.

THE race to become West Yorkshire’s first elected mayor will, in all likelihood, be a battle between Labour’s Tracy Brabin and Matthew Robinson for the Tories.

The former has name recognition from her career in acting – and has been Batley & Spen’s MP since 2016. The latter has been a diligent – but, by all accounts, unremarkable – Leeds city councillor for 11 years.

However, it may not be the Labour walkover that many anticipate – Brabin was close to Labour’s former leader Jeremy Corbyn, postal voting adds a new dynamic to the contest and the Tories will be looking for a vaccine poll bounce.

But what I want to know is how each candidate, as mayor, will stand up to Ministers – even Boris Johnson – and not blink first on those occasions when the London government is shortchanging this vision.

And who has the best strategy – the Opposition MP who has been immersed in Westminster for five years or the councillor, largely unknown outside Leeds, who also represents the party of government?

I look forward to both candidates answering this question while also setting out their own red lines and, in doing so, explaining how they will be the equal of Britain’s most high-profile municipal mayors. West Yorkshire should be expecting nothing less.

FAR from belittling those, especially the elderly, who fall victim to phone scams, we should be sympathising with them – and taking more proactive action to catch the culprits.

I write after nearly being caught out by an early-morning call last Saturday – I normally fear the worst when the landline goes these days – from a plausible individual saying my home internet was about to go down.

I was slightly suspicious but, being a technophobe, listened to them say I needed to take urgent action. It was only when I asked for their identification and they started giving me a website address that did not correspond with my internet provider that I realised, for sure, it was a hoax and they soon hung up.

It’s the closest I’ve coming to falling for one of these phone cons. I’ve also tried to get hold of Virgin Media and West Yorkshire Police’s non-emergency line to pass on details of the phone number used. I’ve not heard back – but I’m convinced it is in the interests of the phone companies, police and others to start taking this issue seriously.

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