Alex Salmond inquiry: Committee reportedly concludes it is 'hard to believe' Nicola Sturgeon did not know of concerns

The Alex Salmond inquiry has reportedly concluded it is “hard to believe” Nicola Sturgeon did not know of concerns about the former first minister’s behaviour before November 2017, as she claimed.

In a further leak about the findings of the inquiry into Scottish Government’s unlawful investigation of Mr Salmond, a majority of MSPs are understood to have concluded that Ms Sturgeon misled the Holyrood committee if she did have knowledge of the concerns.

Ms Sturgeon has claimed she was informed about a media inquiry relating to the then-First Minister’s alleged behaviour towards female Edinburgh Airport staff in November 2017 and that was the first she had ever heard of his potential inappropriate behaviour.

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Alex Salmond inquiry: Nicola Sturgeon has said she's 'not surprised' by 'partisa...
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood, Edinburgh. Picture: Andy Buchanan/PA Wire

Sky News also has reported the committee believes Ms Sturgeon should have acted upon any information about her predecessor’s conduct.

It also revealed the Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints is “concerned” about the meetings Ms Sturgeon had with Mr Salmond after he revealed he was being investigated, and why it took the First Minister more than two months to tell the head of Scotland’s civil service what she knew.

According to Sky News reporter James Matthews, the committee believes: “She should have made the Permanent Secretary aware as soon as possible after the April 2, 2018 meeting, at which point she should have confirmed she would cease contact with Alex Salmond.”

The latest leak follows the revelation the committee is understood to have voted by a five-to-four majority that Ms Sturgeon gave an “inaccurate” account of a meeting with her predecessor, and therefore misled Parliament.

Ms Sturgeon has described the news as a “very partisan leak” from the inquiry and said it is “not that surprising” as the committee is understood to have deemed she misled Parliament.

On Thursday evening, she told Sky News: “I stand by all of the evidence I gave to the committee, all eight hours’ worth of evidence.

“What’s been clear is that opposition members of this committee made their minds up about me before I uttered a single word of evidence, their public comments have made that clear.

“So this leak from the committee – very partisan leak – tonight before they’ve finalised the report is not that surprising.”

Ms Sturgeon said she was awaiting the result of the James Hamilton QC investigation into whether she broke the ministerial code.

A Scottish Parliament spokeswoman said the committee, which has four SNP members and five from other parties, is still considering its report.

The report is expected to be published on Tuesday.

The Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints was set up after a successful judicial review by Mr Salmond resulted in the Scottish Government’s investigation being ruled unlawful and “tainted by apparent bias”, with a £512,250 payout being awarded to him for legal fees in 2019.

A spokesman for the First Minister said: “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.”