Alex Salmond: '˜dirty tricks' conspiracy theories run wild amid allegations

While the revelation of the investigation into alleged sexual harassment involving the former first minister sent shockwaves through the Scottish political world, many on social media took it into their own hands to formulate theories on everything from a wide-ranging anti-Yes Westminster conspiracy to an SNP-backed cover-up operation.

According to one Twitter user: “The dirty tricks brigade of WM [Westminster] are behind the smears against Alex Salmond… This is their way of ramping up their attacks on the SNP – let the truth be forthcoming.”

Another observed: “My personal opinion of the accusations against Alex Salmond (based on the timing & years of observing his character) is that they were cooked up at high levels and carefully timed to force him out of the coming independence referendum.”

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The former first minister of Scotland Alex Salmond speaking to the media at the Champany Inn in Linlithgow, West Lothian, after he launched a legal action to contest the complaints process that was activated against him following allegations about his conduct towards two staff members in 2013 - while he was in office. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire

Allegations of “dirty tricks” were also levelled against First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, with one person tweeting: “Guilty or not Alex Salmond has been hung out to dry by the one person who he created and supported all her political life. Sturgeon pays him back by stabbing him in the groin Nicola you are shameless. In time of need you deserted an SNP Icon you will live to regret your betrayal.”

Another added: “Nicola Sturgeon knowing about sexual harassment allegations against Alex Salmond for ‘some time’ but claims her position of power is to inspire young women… to do what? Help cover up sexual assault allegations? #WheresTheLogic.”

Others, quite obviously tired of Twitter users acting as judge, jury and executioner, took it into their own hands to remind people that social media was not an open court.

One posted: “If anybody thinks this Salmond stuff is somehow a unionist plot then please identify yersel so I can unfollow you.”

Another issued a perhaps optimistic plea for users to exercise a little thought before tweeting about the investigation, adding: “How we (really I mean certain shouty scot­politics men on twitter) respond to the Salmond allegations matters. Women who have experienced sexual harassment will be reading and will be deciding whether to bother coming forward for support. Think (even a bit) before you tweet.”

However, the whole debate was perhaps best summed up by user @MammothWhale, who wrote: “Yes zoomers claiming that the UK civil service created sexual assault allegations against Alex Salmond is the worst.

“No zoomers claiming Nicola Sturgeon covered up sexual assault at Bute House is the worst. Twitter is the worst.”