Nicola Sturgeon: First minister investigated after claims she misled parliament about Salmond meetings

August 03, 2020

An investigation has resumed into whether Nicola Sturgeon broke ministerial rules and misled the Scottish parliament about when she knew about sexual misconduct complaints against Alex Salmond.

Scotland's first minister has been accused of breaking the ministerial code when she "failed to feed back the basic facts" about meetings and discussions she had with Mr Salmond between March and July 2018.

It's also been suggested that she may have tried to influence the sexual harassment investigation that was then under way into Mr Salmond.

John Swinney, the deputy first minister, said he was restarting the referral and that it would be carried out by James Hamilton, a former director of public prosecutions in Ireland, who will act as independent adviser.

He will have the power to interview any minister or official in the Scottish government and examine documents related to the meetings and discussions between the first minister and Mr Salmond.

The referral had to be paused in early 2019 so as not to risk prejudicing criminal proceedings - and then due to the coronavirus pandemic - but Mr Swinney said it could now restart.

Mr Salmond was cleared of all the sexual assault charges he faced at the High Court in Edinburgh in March.

Sky News learned there are conflicting accounts of one of the meetings in question, which Ms Sturgeon attended at the height of a government inquiry into her predecessor.

She told parliament she was informed of complaints against Mr Salmond when he told her himself on 2 April 2018.

However, a previously unseen account of an earlier meeting contradicts her version of events.

It indicates she was involved in a "discussion about the investigation" before the date she gave to parliament - on 29 March.

The matters in question date back to 2018, when two female civil servants made complaints of historical sexual misconduct against Mr Salmond, which he strenuously denied.

The Scottish government mounted an inquiry but it was abandoned after Mr Salmond launched a legal challenge and the Court of Session found the handling of the investigation was "tainted by apparent bias".

The contradiction surrounding Ms Sturgeon's version of events centres on what she knew of the Scottish government's inquiry - and when.

Ms Sturgeon has said she stands by the statement she made to parliament.

A Scottish government spokesperson told Sky News that Ms Sturgeon does not dispute that the 29 March meeting took place but refutes the suggestion that it involved discussion of the Scottish government's Salmond inquiry.

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