Alex Salmond inquiry: Nicola Sturgeon will 'take head on ridiculous suggestions'

The First Minister has “refuted” an allegation that she misled Scottish Government lawyers over when she first knew of complaints against Alex Salmond.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon when she was deputy to Alex Salmond.

Nicola Sturgeon said it was “absolutely not the case” and she was looking forward to giving evidence to the Holyrood inquiry into the government’s handling of harassment allegations against her predecessor to “take head on some of the ridiculous suggestions that have been made about this whole situation”.

Speaking at her daily Covid briefing on Monday, the First Minister was questioned about confusion over when she first knew of allegations against Mr Salmond, and whether the government had failed to disclose accurate information to the Court of Session during his successful judicial review of how it had carried out a probe into allegations against him.

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The First Minister's account is that she was first told about the claims by Mr Salmond at her home on April 2 2018 and this formed part of the Scottish Government's defence during the judicial review of its unlawful investigation of him. But it has since emerged that Ms Sturgeon met with Mr Salmond's former chief of staff, Geoff Aberdein, four days earlier and allegedly discussed the sexual harassment investigation.

In evidence to the Scottish Parliament committee, Mr Salmond also said he believed the Scottish Government failed to release all documents and information to the court.

Asked if Scottish Government lawyers misled the court and if they did so “on the basis of information you provided”, Ms Sturgeon, who is due to appear before the inquiry committee next week, rejected the suggestion.

“No that’s not the case,” she said. “I refute that absolutely and I look forward to getting the opportunity at long last to appear before the committee of inquiry.

"I very much hope that would be next week, assuming they don’t postpone it again. And let me very clear I am willing to answer all and any questions put to me by that committee, including the topic you’ve just asked me.

"And in addition to answering all the many questions, I will perhaps also get the opportunity to take head on some of the ridiculous suggestions that have been made about this whole situation, suggestions which I know have caused many people a great deal of distress.”

Pressed again on where she refuted supplying the information to Scottish Government lawyers or that they misled the court, Ms Sturgeon added: “I refute the allegation being made and I, as is right and proper, will not address these serious issues in a press conference. I will do it sitting before the inquiry, as is my responsibility.”

An investigation is already under way into whether Ms Sturgeon broke the ministerial code when she told Parliament that she first became aware of the allegations on April 2 2018.

In her written evidence to the Holyrood inquiry examining the Government's botched investigation of Mr Salmond, Ms Sturgeon stated she had "forgotten" about the earlier meeting with Mr Aberdein until "late January/early February" 2019.

No records were made of either meeting which could also constitute a breach of the ministerial code if Government business – such as the investigation of Mr Salmond – was discussed.

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