Sturgeon ‘strongly refutes’ whistleblower allegations from Tory MP Davis

Lucinda Cameron, PA Scotland
·2-min read

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she “refutes” claims made by Conservative MP David Davis over the Scottish Government’s handling of sexual harassment allegations against former first minister Alex Salmond.

Using parliamentary privilege, David Davis claimed messages disclosed by a whistleblower show there was a “concerted effort by senior members of the SNP to encourage complaints” against the former first minister.

Mr Davis told the Commons the messages present a case “which demands serious investigation”.

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 for legal fees in 2019.

Nicola Sturgeon and John Swinney
John Swinney, right, said First Minister Nicola Sturgeon gave ‘comprehensive answers to every question’ when she faced the committee earlier this month (Jane Barlow/PA)

Speaking at the Scottish Government’s coronavirus briefing, the First Minister said: “Other than to say that I strongly refute [sic] the suggestions and insinuations of David Davis in the House of Commons last night, I am not going to have this Covid briefing sidetracked by the latest installment of Alex Salmond’s conspiracy theory.

“I have given eight hours of evidence to the parliamentary committee looking into this.

“They are now able to assess all of the evidence they’ve taken, including, I’m sure, the evidence they have in relation to the suggestions and claims made by David Davis last night.

“They have a job of work to do, now, I’m going to allow them to do that job of work and, in the meantime I’m going to get on with my job.”

Her deputy, Mr Swinney, told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme on Wednesday the inquiry should be left to come to its conclusions.

Coronavirus – Tue Oct 6, 2020
Conservative MP David Davis used parliamentary privilege to raise concerns (Luciana Guerra/PA)

Earlier, a spokesman for Ms Sturgeon said: “As with Mr Salmond’s previous claims and cherry-picking of messages, the reality is very different to the picture being presented.

“Every message involving SNP staff has been seen by the committee previously. Their views have been widely reported as dismissive of them.”

As well as the committee’s inquiry, James Hamilton QC is investigating whether Ms Sturgeon breached the ministerial code.

On Tuesday, a report by Laura Dunlop QC called for complaints against current and former Government ministers to be investigated independently, rather than by the Scottish Government.