Alex Salmond inquiry MSPs seek clarification of SNP chief executive’s evidence

Craig Paton, PA Scotland Political Reporter
·2-min read

A Holyrood committee established to investigate the botched handling of complaints made against Alex Salmond has asked for clarification from the SNP’s chief executive.

Peter Murrell, who is the husband of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, appeared before the Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints earlier this month and was questioned over apparent conflicts between his evidence and that of Ms Sturgeon.

In a letter, convener Linda Fabiani asks Mr Murrell for clarification on a number of points.

These include about a meeting between the First Minister, her predecessor and aides at her home in Glasgow on April 2 2018, where Mr Salmond told Ms Sturgeon of complaints of harassment made against him.

Ms Fabiani offers Mr Murrell the opportunity “for you to give further clarification to the committee on a number of matters and ask whether any further detail is available on elements of your evidence”.

Alex Salmond
The committee is investigating the handling of complaints against Alex Salmond (Andrew Milligan/PA)

In his evidence, Mr Murrell said he did not know about the meeting, but later in the session contradicted himself by saying he was aware the previous day of Mr Salmond coming to the house.

He also claimed in his written and oral evidence that he was not at home when the meeting took place, but again appeared to contradict himself by saying he arrived back “not long before the meeting ended”.

Ms Fabiani asked for clarity on both points.

The status of the meeting has also come under scrutiny, with the First Minister claiming she believed it to be a party issue, meaning it did not have to be recorded in line with the ministerial code, while her husband told the committee he believed it to be Scottish Government business.

Ms Sturgeon is expected to appear before the committee in the new year.

Ms Fabiani said in her letter to Mr Murrell: “To inform the session with the First Minister, it would be useful to establish whether you assumed the meeting was a Government matter before it happened and whether you continued to assume so after the meeting took place.”

Mr Murrell was also forced to submit further evidence to the committee on his use of the messaging app WhatsApp, which he told the inquiry he did not use.

Later when media reports said an account was registered to Mr Murrell’s number and it had been “last seen” on November 22, he said the app was on his phone but he did not use it.

The inquiry is seeking clarification on his use of WhatsApp, as well as any other electronic messages which discuss the case with SNP officials.