An inquiry into the Scottish government’s handling of sexual harassment complaints against Alex Salmond has concluded that first minister Nicola Sturgeon misled parliament, according to media reports.
A Scottish parliament committee is reported to have decided by five votes to four that Ms Sturgeon was not truthful in her account of a meeting with the former first minister at her home on April 2nd, 2018.
In oral and written evidence Ms Sturgeon denied offering to intervene in the harassment complaints process, but the committee is reported to have concluded that she did.
The committee’s final report is expected to be published next Tuesday and Ms Sturgeon’s spokesman said the reports were based on partisan briefings.
“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,” he said.
The Scottish government’s ministerial code states that a minister who knowingly misleads the Scottish parliament is expected to offer their resignation. Ireland’s former Director of Public Prosecutions James Hamilton is conducting a separate inquiry into whether Ms Sturgeon broke the ministerial code, which is expected to be published before the end of this month.
A judicial review found that the Scottish government’s handling of the complaints against Mr Salmond was biased and unlawful and the exercise cost the authorities more than £500,000 in legal bills. Mr Salmond was subsequently charged with 13 sexual offences and was acquitted on all counts after a criminal trial. He claims that figures around Ms Sturgeon were part of a malicious effort to destroy his reputation.
Ms Sturgeon claims that she first heard about the complaints against Mr Salmond when they met at her home on April 2nd, 2018. But Mr Salmond said his former chief of staff briefed the first minister about the allegations at a meeting on March 29th which led to the later meeting being set up.
Mr Salmond said that during their meeting the first minister had offered to intervene on his behalf.
“She said she would when it was the appropriate time. As I say, the conversation was not about if she would intervene, but when.”
Ms Sturgeon told the committee that she had made clear to Mr Salmond that she would not intervene and her spokesman on Thursday stood by that claim.
“The first minister told the truth to the committee in eight hours of evidence, and stands by that evidence,” he said.