Scotland’s Constitution Secretary has compared calls for Nicola Sturgeon to resign with shouts of “lock her up” at Donald Trump rallies.
The Scottish Conservatives have called for the First Minister’s resignation amid accusations she misled parliament about her involvement in the Alex Salmond investigation.
It followed a leak that the inquiry into the Government’s unlawful investigation into harassment complaints against the former first minister has reportedly concluded that Ms Sturgeon gave an “inaccurate” account of meetings with Mr Salmond.
Scottish Conservative MSP Adam Tomkins told the BBC’s Sunday Show that the First Minister should step down.
He said: “The evidence is not just clear but overwhelming that Nicola Sturgeon has misled parliament on countless occasions.
“If you are a minister in the Scottish Government you have to abide by the ministerial code.
“The ministerial code makes it absolutely clear that if you mislead the Scottish Parliament you resign. She misled the Scottish Parliament and she needs to resign.”
Scotland’s Constitution Secretary condemned the leak as “unforgivable” and said it was done to “damage Nicola Sturgeon”.
He compared the treatment of Ms Sturgeon to the shouts of “lock her up” directed at 2016 Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton during Trump rallies
Mr Russell told the programme: “What you’ve just heard is a version of the Trump cry ‘lock her up’ – if you remember that used to be shouted at every Trump rally, that’s what you’ve just heard, and the Tories have been doing it for weeks and it’s thoroughly unpleasant, and it’s focused on an individual, and it’s focused on undermining the Scottish Parliament.
“It’s utterly discreditable and the people of Scotland need to have their say about it.”
The Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints was set up after a successful judicial review by Mr Salmond resulted in the Scottish Government’s investigation being ruled unlawful and “tainted by apparent bias”, with a £512,250 payout being awarded to him in 2019.
A spokesman for the First Minister has said she stands by the evidence she gave to the Holyrood committee and accused it of resorting to “baseless assertion, supposition and smear”.
Mr Russell said: “She sat for eight hours and gave evidence on oath to that committee and answered every single question that was put to her but what has happened is that somebody, and I would dearly like to know who, and I hope the presiding officer of the Scottish Parliament is determined to find out who, somebody decided to leak one piece of information, we don’t even know the full piece of information, with the sole aim of damaging the First Minister, damaging the SNP, damaging the Scottish Parliament to get their retaliation in first.
“That was disgraceful, it needs to be condemned, but what really needs to be condemned is the way that the women are being left out by the person who did that.”
The committee is expected to publish its report in the coming days.
As well as the committee’s inquiry, James Hamilton QC is investigating whether Ms Sturgeon breached the ministerial code.