‘Serious questions for Sturgeon and Scottish Government’ after Salmond evidence

Douglas Barrie, PA Scotland
·3-min read

Alex Salmond’s evidence to a Holyrood committee “poses serious questions for Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish Government”, Jackie Baillie has said.

The Scottish Labour MSP, and interim party leader until Saturday, is a member of the Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints which questioned the former first minister for nearly six hours on Friday.

During that time Mr Salmond said Scotland’s “leadership has failed” and claims there is “no doubt” Ms Sturgeon has broken rules governing the behaviour of ministers but he stopped short of saying she should resign.

After the committee, Ms Baillie said: “The former First Minister’s testimony to the committee, including his assertion that the First Minister broke the Ministerial Code, poses serious questions for Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish Government.

“Mr Salmond’s allegation that the name of a complainant was made known to his former chief of staff prior to a meeting between him and the First Minister is nothing short of explosive.

“Not only would the act of making the name of a complainant known be a grave failure to protect the person in question, the First Minister’s response to this allegation yesterday may have misled Parliament and so broken the Ministerial Code.

“Mr Salmond’s claim that the leak of documents to the Daily Record was ‘politically inspired’ is incredibly serious and demands investigation by the Police.

“The claim that during the civil and criminal cases the Crown Office was not made aware of vital documents that have since been passed to the committee by the Scottish Government beggars belief.”

Ms Sturgeon has previously insisted there is “not a shred of evidence” that there was a conspiracy against Mr Salmond and she has denied lying to Parliament.

She is scheduled to appear before the committee to give evidence next Wednesday.

Ms Baillie added: “It is clear that Mr Salmond believes the First Minister has failed to follow the Ministerial Code on multiple occasions and that the Permanent Secretary has failed to follow the Civil Service code.

“The First Minister and the Lord Advocate have big questions to answer when they come before the Committee next week.

“I will be encouraging my colleagues on the committee to use our powers to serve a Section 23 notice on Mr Salmond’s solicitors so that we may receive vital documents that have so far been withheld from us.

“Mr Salmond was correct when he said that this investigation was not about him, it is about the women who were so catastrophically failed, and this committee is determined to discover who is responsible for this failure however inconvenient that truth may be.”

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Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said: “Devastating evidence has revealed SNP cover-ups, costly mistakes and terrible errors of judgment.

“The number of accusations of misleading Parliament and breaking the Ministerial Code are extraordinary.

“The entire leadership of the ruling party of government are on the ropes.”

But a spokesman for the First Minister said: “The people of Scotland have shown, in poll after poll and election after election, that they back the leadership of the SNP and of Nicola Sturgeon.

“Today was Alex Salmond’s chance to provide proof of the conspiracy which has been alleged – and he did not do so.

“Instead, under oath, he explicitly conceded there was no such evidence against the First Minister, and also gave testimony which directly undermined some of the central planks of the conspiracy theories.

“The First Minister now looks forward to addressing all of the issues Mr Salmond raised – and much more besides – when she finally gets the opportunity to address the committee next week.”