Nicola Sturgeon must apologise for falsely accusing Salmond inquiry MSPs of a criminal offence – Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP

It’s an odd feeling to be effectively accused of criminality by the First Minister of Scotland on the floor of the Scottish Parliament, but it happened to me and my fellow Salmond Inquiry members last week.

A committee of MSPs is investigating the Scottish Government's handling of complaints made against Alex Salmond (Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire)

In a rattled performance, Nicola Sturgeon spent much of the first ten minutes of First Minister’s Questions taking body blows over the obstruction faced by our committee.

In one exchange, Ruth Davidson asked Nicola about messages reported to have come from SNP chief executive (and husband to the FM) Peter Murrell.

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The messages were leaked to the committee – from a dossier of evidence protected under court order. That leak is now the subject of a police investigation.

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The messages suggest a possible conspiracy, whereby Mr Murrell is alleged to have sought to turn up the heat on Alex Salmond.

They suggest an attempt to put pressure on the police to dig deeper, so that Mr Salmond would have to "firefight” on as many fronts as possible.

At one point in the exchange in the Scottish Parliament, Nicola Sturgeon stated: “It appears to me that when they [the messages] were passed to the committee they were immediately leaked to the media.”

That’s a serious allegation – such a leak would have been a criminal offence. It’s also untrue.

Clerks only gave the committee sight of the messages as they had been approached for comment by a national paper. Nicola Sturgeon knows this and should come to the chamber to apologise to us.

Alex Cole-Hamilton is the Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP for Edinburgh Western

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