Conservatives call for Sturgeon’s resignation after witnesses back Salmond

Following the ongoing investigation into the handling of Alex Salmond’s sexual misconduct case comes the demand for the First Minister’s resignation on the eve of her appearance with the investigation committee. 

Two witnesses have confirmed the meeting of Ms Sturgeon and Geoff Aberdein, Mr Salmond’s former Chief of Staff, on March 29th 2018, stating that it was “for the purpose of discussing the complaints” 

Ms Sturgeon maintains she had learnt of the allegations on April 2nd despite the prior meeting, although Duncan Hamilton, Mr Salmond’s QC, who was in attendance stated “My clear recollection is that her words were ‘if it comes to it, I will intervene’.” 

This is a statement the First Minister has strongly denied. 

In addition to this, new documents were published on March 2nd which detailed the handling of the case and provided further insight into allegations made against the First Minister, specifically in regards to the meetings not being officially documented.

Considering this evidence, accusations of the First Minister breaching the ministerial code motivated the Conservatives to call for Ms Sturgeon’s resignation, claiming “There is no longer any doubt that Nicola Sturgeon lied to the Scottish Parliament and broke the ministerial code on numerous counts.”

As a result, Ms Sturgeon stated in her appearance before the investigative committee that there is an “alternative explanation” to Mr Salmond’s claims.

Ms Sturgeon denies she broke the ministerial code – although a separate independent investigation is now taking place. 

During her hearing with the committee Ms Sturgeon stated her case, asserting that she had learnt of the allegations against Mr Salmond on April 2nd although having “lingering suspicions” since 2017 following an incident at Edinburgh Airport.

In response to the accusation from Mr Salmond that there was a “malicious plan” plotted against him, she said it was an “absurd suggestion that anyone acted with malice or as part of a plot against Alex Salmond”.

Ms Sturgeon also commented on the allegation that Leslie Evans, the Permanent Secretary, informed Mr Salmond of the identity of a plaintiff, “It would be serious if the identity of a complainer was revealed, but that is not what I understand happened in the way it is being set out.”

She apologized to the two women who had made the complaints and who were failed by the government’s investigation and acquittal.

The publication of the documents showcasing the government’s handling of the Mr Salmond case confirmed John Swinney had “reservations” regarding the likelihood of winning the case as early as October 2018, but he defended this by saying “There were good public policy reasons for continuing to defend the case and to seek a determination from the Court”. 

Ms Sturgeon backed this by detailing that the initial advice given by her lawyers was not “in some way prolonging a judicial review that was dead in the water”.

The First Minister concluded her evidence by acknowledging the mistakes she had made – further dismissing Mr Salmond’s suggestions that the Scottish government had failed, she also added:

“Actually, what comes out of it is the message that no matter how powerful you are or were, no matter your status or connections, if you are accused of serious offences they will be investigated and you will have the chance to defend yourself in court. 

“That is how these things should work.”

Image: Scottish government via Wikimedia Commons