Scottish leader Sturgeon did not break ministerial code of conduct, inquiry finds

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Sturgeon makes coronavirus statement in Scottish parliament, Edinburgh

LONDON (Reuters) - Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon did not break a ministerial code of conduct in her handling of sexual harassment complaints against her predecessor Alex Salmond, an independent inquiry concluded on Monday.

The ruling by James Hamilton, an independent senior lawyer who investigated Sturgeon's conduct, will come as a huge relief to her. Any breach of the code of conduct would have been expected to have led to calls for her resignation.

"I am of the opinion that the First Minister did not breach the provisions of the Ministerial Code in respect of any of these matters," Hamilton said in his eagerly awaited report.

Sturgeon welcomed the finding.

"Mr Hamilton has considered all of the allegations against me, and I am happy that his report’s findings clear me of any breach of the ministerial code," she said in a statement.

"I sought at every stage in this issue to act with integrity and in the public interest. As I have previously made clear, I did not consider that I had broken the code, but these findings are official, definitive and independent adjudication of that."

(Reporting by Michael Holden and Estelle Shirbon)