Alex Salmond could end Nicola Sturgeon’s career over claims FM broke ministerial code

Alex Salmond speaks after being acquitted of sexual offences

The First Minister of Scotland gave evidence to Holyrood’s Harassment Complaints Committee which is examining the Scottish Government’s handling of harassment complaints against Alex Salmond. It comes after the SNP led Scottish Government paid out £500,000 to the former politician after they conceded a judicial review case brought by the former first minister in January 2019.

Mr Salmond claimed Ms Sturgeon had breached the code because she failed to inform the civil service of two meetings she had with him.

A spokesperson for Nicola Sturgeon has hit back saying the First Minister “entirely rejects Mr Salmond’s claims about the Ministerial Code”.

The Scottish Government’s ministerial code says any minister found to have knowingly misled Holyrood should offer their resignation.

It is claimed Ms Sturgeon held a meeting with Mr Salmond on April 2, 2018, and one with Mr Salmond’s former chief of staff Geoff Aberdein on March 20, 2018.

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The First Minister had made clear the meetings with her predecessor was because the politician was about to quit the party and therefore was SNP party business.

In the March meeting, the First Minister said she had forgotten about it and regularly denied there was a conspiracy against Mr Salmond.

However, Mr Salmond claimed the April meeting had been arranged to discuss the Scottish Government’s sexual harassment allegations.

Mr Salmond’s evidence passed to Express.co.uk, said: “In her written submission to the Committee, the First Minister has subsequently admitted to that meeting on 29th March 2018, claiming to have previously ‘forgotten’ about it. That is, with respect, untenable.

“The pre-arranged meeting in the Scottish Parliament of March 29, 2018 was ‘forgotten’ about because acknowledging it would have rendered ridiculous the claim made by the First Minister in Parliament that it had been believed that the meeting on April 2 was on SNP party business and thus held at her private residence.

“All participants in that meeting were fully aware of what the meeting was about and why it had been arranged.

“The meeting took place with a shared understanding of the issues for discussion — the complaints made and the Scottish Government procedure which had been launched.

“The First Minister’s claim that it was ever thought to be about anything other than the complaints made against me is wholly false.”

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Alex Salmond was also separately acquitted of sexual offence charges in a trial in Edinburgh last year.

Jackie Baillie, deputy leader of Scottish Labour said the revolutions could end Ms Sturgeon’s political career.

The MSP said: “Alex Salmond’s explosive allegations demand answers from the First Minister to the committee.

“The bombshell accusation that Nicola Sturgeon has broken the Ministerial Code has the potential to end her political career and demands a robust and honest answer from the First Minister.

“This committee demands truthfulness and honesty from every witness it calls – it is vital that the First Minister tells the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth when she appears before the Committee.”

Douglas Ross, leader of the Scottish Conservatives said Nicola Sturgeon should resign if Mr Salmond’s evidence were true.

The Moray MP said: “There is now clear evidence of Nicola Sturgeon abusing her power to deceive the Scottish public.

“If this proves to be correct, it is a resignation matter.

“No First Minister, at any time, can be allowed to get away with repeatedly and blatantly lying to the Scottish Parliament and breaking the Ministerial Code.”

In response, a spokesperson for Nicola Sturgeon said: “The First Minister entirely rejects Mr Salmond’s claims about the Ministerial Code.

“We should always remember that the roots of this issue lie in complaints made by women about Alex Salmond’s behaviour whilst he was First Minister, aspects of which he has conceded.

“It is not surprising therefore that he continues to try to divert focus from that by seeking to malign the reputation of the First Minister and by spinning false conspiracy theories.

“The First Minister is concentrating on fighting the pandemic, stands by what she has said, and will address these matters in full when she appears at committee in the coming weeks.”

Alex Salmond said in a statement this evening: “I stand by the contents of the document and I am prepared to do so under oath in front of the Committee.”

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