Alex Salmond row: MSPs call for inquiry into Sturgeon to be extended | Politics

Nicola Sturgeon should be investigated over alleged false statements to Holyrood, two members of the inquiry into the Scottish government’s botched handling of sexual harassment complaints against Alex Salmond have said.

The Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton said the ongoing Holyrood investigation into whether the current first minister broke the ministerial code over meetings with her predecessor should expand its remit.

Sturgeon previously told the Scottish parliament she first heard about allegations of sexual misconduct made against Salmond at a meeting with him at her home on 2 April 2018. However, it has since emerged that she was told about them by his former chief of staff Geoff Aberdein at a meeting in her office a few days before on 29 March.

Then, during an interview with Sky News’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme, Sturgeon acknowledged that messages in November 2017 between her and Salmond made “an oblique reference” to a Sky News investigation into claims of inappropriate conduct against him.

Scottish Labour’s Jackie Baillie supported Cole-Hamilton’s call, saying: “Contradictory statements made by the first minister suggest that knowledge of the complaints against Mr Salmond were known about even before 29 March. That being the case then it is important that the ministerial code investigation is widened.”

In written evidence to the Holyrood committee published last week, Sturgeon claimed she had “forgotten” the meeting with Aberdein and also denied “in the strongest possible terms” conspiring against or colluding with Salmond over the allegations, as her husband and Scottish National party chief executive, Peter Murrell, admitted sending leaked text messages that appeared to endorse “pressuring” the police to investigate the former first minister.

During the interview with Ridge, Sturgeon said: “I think the reason perhaps he [Mr Salmond] is angry with me – and he clearly is angry with me – is that I didn’t cover it up, I didn’t collude with him to make these allegations go away, and perhaps that is at the root of why he is as annoyed as he appears to be.”

She told Ridge much of the criticism she had endured was “age-old”, “that a man is accused of misconduct against women and often it’s a woman that ends up sitting answering for them”, adding that the allegations could not be “brushed under the carpet”.

In response, Salmond made his first public comment since he was acquitted of 13 charges of sexual assault in March, stating that “the first time I will comment is in front of the parliamentary committee”.

He said: “This committee was established to inquire into the conduct of the first minister, her special advisers and civil servants after her government’s behaviour was found to be ‘unlawful’, ‘unfair’ and ‘tainted by apparent bias’ and at enormous cost to the public purse.”

A source close to Salmond said he was not angry, “just astonished at the ever-shifting sands of [Sturgeon’s] story”.

The source went on: “Her claims of an attempted ‘collusion’ are not only untrue but unsupported by the written evidence and directly contradicted by her own previous parliamentary statements. She claims to have ‘nothing to hide’. That is not the impression she is giving.”


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