Alex Salmond inquiry: Nicola Sturgeon accused of misleading Parliament

Nicola Sturgeon has been accused of misleading Parliament while her husband Peter Murrell, the chief executive of the SNP, has been listed as a witness who has ‘obstructed’ the Holyrood inquiry into how sexual harassment claims against Alex Salmond were handled by civil servants.

Former Scottish first minister Alex Salmond. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

MSPs on the specially-convened committee, which is attempting to discover how the government ended up losing £500,000 of taxpayers’ money as a result of bungling its internal investigation into allegations against the former first minister, have complained of a “lack of evidence” from witnesses. They claimed:

the inquiry is being treated “as a laughing stock” by the Scottish Government;that Nicola Sturgeon has “misled Parliament”;that witnesses, including civil servants, Mr Salmond and Peter Murrell, the chief executive of the SNP have been “obstructive”;raised fears the inquiry will be a “whitewash”.

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Murdo Fraser, the Scottish Conservative committee member said the First Minister had misled Holyrood as her government “will not provide whatever material the inquiry requests”, as she promised in January last year.

Committee chair Linda Fabiani. Picture: John Devlin

On 17 January 2019, Ms Sturgeon told the Scottish Parliament: “The inquiries will be able to request whatever material they want, and I undertake today that we will provide whatever material they request.” However, since then the government has refused to release key documents to the committee, despite repeated requests.

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Mr Fraser said: “The SNP have treated the Salmond inquiry with contempt. They act like requests for key documents are beneath them.

"Nicola Sturgeon has undoubtedly broken her promise to release all materials that the inquiry requested. If she won’t release these documents, she has misled Parliament. It now appears that this inquiry will be a whitewash.”

Convener of the Holyrood committee, SNP MSP Linda Fabiani, also today accused the government, as well as Mr Murrell and Mr Salmond, of “obstruction”. She said MSPs were “frustrated with the lack of evidence” being supplied to them.

Ms Fabiani said the committee, which met in private today to discuss oral and written evidence it had received so far, will now be forced to sit privately again next week as a result of a lack of evidence forthcoming.

“The committee continues to be completely frustrated with the lack of evidence and, quite frankly, obstruction it is experiencing,” she said. “We had hoped to be in a position to hear further oral evidence, but with responses still outstanding from the Scottish Government, chief executive of the SNP and the former first minister, all of this means that we simply cannot proceed at this stage.

“I would urge all those we have approached to engage productively with the committee so it can get on with the task in hand."

Scottish Labour’s committee member Jackie Baillie said: “Quite frankly, the Scottish Government and others are treating this committee as a laughing stock.

“It is all too clear that the government’s commitment to transparency was little more than a bad joke and that they are determined to prevent the committee from executing its vital task.

“The Scottish Government and, indeed, many others involved in this affair have demonstrated contempt for this committee and its aims. The secrecy must end.”

The SNP has been asked for comment.

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