Calls to resign
Sturgeon ‘misled parliament’, says committee
Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is facing new calls to resign amid claims that a Holyrood committee will conclude that she misled parliament.
The harassment committee is said to have reached its verdict by a majority vote and will publish its final report next week.
Members have decided that Ms Sturgeon misled the committee itself and the parliament and potentially breached the ministerial code of conduct, Sky News reports.
In oral evidence and an earlier a written submission to the committee Ms Sturgeon insisted she had not offered to intervene in a Scottish government investigation into harassment complaints made against her predecessor, Alex Salmond.
However, Mr Salmond insisted that she had made such an offer during a meeting at her house on 2 April 2018.
Mr Salmond’s account was confirmed by Duncan Hamilton QC, his legal adviser, who was present at the meeting and wrote to the committee that Ms Sturgeon had said: “If it comes to it, I will intervene.”
According to Sky News the committee’s finding reads:
“The committee notes there is a fundamental contradiction in the evidence in relation to whether, at the meeting on the 2 April 2018, the First Minister did or did not agree to intervene.
“Taking account of the competing versions of the event, the committee believes that she did in fact leave Alex Salmond with the impression that she would, if necessary, intervene.
“This is corroborated by Duncan Hamilton, who was also at the meeting. Her written evidence is, therefore, an inaccurate account of what happened and she has misled the committee on this matter.
“This is a potential breach of the ministerial code under the terms of section 1.3 (c).”
Ms Sturgeon is facing a separate inquiry into whether she breached the ministerial code.
James Hamilton, Ireland’s former director of public prosecutions, is due to publish the findings of his investigation in the coming days.
Mr Hamilton is an independent adviser to the Scottish government on the code and has been conducting enquiries following Ms Sturgeon’s self-referral amidst questions surrounding what she knew, and when.
Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said: “The Committee will publish its findings in the coming days and we will wait for that report. However, we are really only waiting for confirmation of what we already know.
Douglas Ross: The First Minister must resign
“We have detailed that the First Minister misled the Scottish Parliament. Nicola Sturgeon has not told the public the truth about what she knew and when.
“We cannot set a precedent that a First Minister of Scotland can mislead the Scottish Parliament and get away with it.
“We have to trust that the First Minister will be truthful. We no longer can.
“It is the duty of Scotland’s opposition to hold the government to account. That is what the Scottish Conservatives have done throughout this sorry affair, which has so badly let down the women who came forward and damaged the standing of Scotland’s institutions.
“We have called out the First Minister based on the overwhelming evidence that she misled Parliament. We will continue to hold her to the same standards as previous First Ministers of Scotland and demand that she resigns.”
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said: “I am not going to prejudge the outcome of the committee report and we await its findings, but if it does conclude that the First Minister has misled Parliament and potentially breached the ministerial code then that is incredibly serious.
“This is about the integrity of our Scottish Parliament and upholding standards in public life.
Anas Sarwar: ‘this is about integrity‘
“The separate Hamilton inquiry has yet to report, and all parties must be given due process, however the code which the First Minister has promised to follow by the letter is clear – any minister who is found in breach of the ministerial code has a duty to resign.”
A spokesperson for the First Minister: “The First Minister told the truth to the committee in eight hours of evidence, and stands by that evidence.
“It is clear from past public statements that opposition members of this committee had prejudged the First Minister at the outset of the inquiry and before hearing a word of her evidence, so this partisan and selective briefing – before the committee has actually published its final report – is hardly surprising.
“The question of the First Minister’s adherence to the ministerial code is being considered independently by James Hamilton, and we expect to receive and publish his report soon.”