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Salmond pressured Irish head of St Andrews to drop warnings over Yes vote

17 September 2014 Latest News Local News News

Scottish first minister Alex Salmond tried to force the Waterford-born head of one of Scotland’s oldest universities to withdraw warnings that independence could hit research funding.

In March, Professor Louise Richardson, a Tramore native who is currently the principal of St Andrew’s University, gave an interview to the London Times which deeply angered Mr Salmond.

In it, she said: “If we were cut off from national research councils it would be catastrophic for this institution . . . We would lose our top academics, we would fail to attract serious academics from other countries

Her interview prompted Mr Salmond’s chief of staff, Geoff Aberdein, to press for a clarification which Ms Richardson refused to issue.

However, it also prompted a heated 10-minute telephone conversation – separately confirmed by The Irish Times – between Mr Salmond and Ms Richardson.

Ms Richardson, an internationally-recognised academic, has not sought to attract publicity for the confrontation, though it is known that she was deeply angered by it.

In an effort to maintain peace between St Andrews and the Scottish government, she eventually agreed to publish a one-line statement saying that she acknowledged Mr Salmond’s government was “working hard to resolve this issue” of research funding.