Sturgeon facing call to resign over new Salmond evidence
Nicola Sturgeon: faces inquiry
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is facing a No Confidence vote and calls to resign after new documents emerged concerning her involvement in the Alex Salmond affair.
The Scottish government published emails showing how it persisted with a legal fight with Ms Sturgeon’s predecessor even though lawyers warned against such a move.
Evidence has also been produced by two other witnesses raising doubts over Ms Sturgeon’s version of events.
The new revelations have emerged ahead of Ms Sturgeon’s appearance on Wednesday in front of a Holyrood inquiry investigating the government’s handling of complaints against Mr Salmond.
Read more: check out Wednesday’s live report
The First Minister has denied breaking the ministerial code and said she will give her full rebuttal at the hearing. Her spokesman described the No Confidence proposal “irresponsible”.
The Scottish Tories have accused Ms Sturgeon of breaching the ministerial code up to 38 times during the ferocious dispute between two of the SNP’s most senior figures.
The accusations against her include repeatedly misleading the Scottish Parliament about when she first knew of the allegations against Mr Salmond, delaying settling the judicial review despite legal advice, and meeting Mr Salmond on government business without any officials present or records being taken.
Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said: “Credible witnesses have now backed up Alex Salmond’s claims and the legal advice shows the government knew months in advance that the judicial review was doomed but they still went on to waste more than £500,000 of taxpayers’ money.
Douglas Ross: ‘evidence is overwhelming’
“There is no longer any doubt that Nicola Sturgeon lied to the Scottish Parliament and broke the Ministerial Code on numerous counts.
“No First Minister can be allowed to mislead the Scottish people and continue in office, especially when they have tried to cover up the truth and abused the power of their office in the process.
“The weight of the evidence is overwhelming. Nicola Sturgeon must resign.
“No evidence she can provide tomorrow will counter the claims of numerous witnesses or refute that her government ignored the legal advice for months and lost more than £500,000 of taxpayers’ money in the process.
“We will be submitting a Vote of No Confidence in the First Minister.”
Scottish Labour deputy leader and member of the Holyrood committee member Jackie Baillie said: “The legal advice plainly states that while the Scottish Government had grounds to view aspects of its case as ‘defensible’, serious questions remained around procedural unfairness from the very beginning.
“The advice states plainly that there was a ‘real risk’ that the Court would be persuaded by the challenge on ‘procedural unfairness’.
“Despite this warning, the Scottish Government persisted at the cost of over half a million pounds of taxpayers’ money and to the detriment of the women involved.
“The redactions littered throughout the published documents most certainly do not meet the Parliament’s call for the advice to be published in full and there are documents missing.
“The comments from counsel make it explicitly clear that the conduct of the investigation and the actions of those involved greatly jeopardised the proceedings.
“That Counsel were expressing grave concerns in October and that the Lord Advocate wished to continue with proceedings as late as December 2018 simply beggars belief.
“The Scottish Government’s unlawful handling of harassment complaints appears to be indefensible, and I look forward to having the opportunity to question the First Minister on the failings of her government.”
Commenting on the Conservatives’ statement regarding a confidence motion, a spokesperson for the First Minister said: “The First Minister will address all of the issues raised – and much more besides – at the committee tomorrow, while the independent adviser on the ministerial code will report in due course.
“But to call a vote of no confidence in the middle of a pandemic, before hearing a single word of the First Minister’s evidence, is utterly irresponsible.
“It is for the public to decide who they want to govern Scotland and – while we continue to fight the covid pandemic – with the election campaign starting in just 20 days, that is precisely what they will be able to do.”