James Hamilton inquiry: Report into whether Nicola Sturgeon breached ministerial code to be released today

The independent inquiry into whether Nicola Sturgeon breached the ministerial code is expected to be released today, according to reports.

An investigation by James Hamilton has been examining whether Scotland’s First Minister misled Parliament.

He is also examining if she should have recorded meetings with Alex Salmond and whether she prolonged the Scottish Government’s defence of a judicial review brought by her predecessor contrary to the legal advice.

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The Scottish Government has now confirmed it has received the report from Mr Hamilton and will publish the document later today.

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon leaves her home in Glasgow, Scotland. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

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A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The Scottish Government received the independent adviser’s report this morning and it will be published later today, once legally required checks and notifications are completed.”

Ms Sturgeon, who denies breaching the ministerial code, has previously promised the report would be published on the day the government received it.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman was unable to say if or when the report would be released.

Mr Hamilton, the former director of public prosecutions in the Republic of Ireland, is the independent advisor to the Scottish Government on the ministerial code – a set of rules about how ministers should conduct themselves.

The current First Minister referred herself to him following Mr Salmond’s successful legal challenge of the Scottish Government’s unlawful investigation into harassment complaints against him, which led to him winning more than £500,000 in court.

The investigation was paused in early 2019 to avoid prejudicing criminal proceedings brought against Mr Salmond.

He was acquitted of 13 charges, including sexual assault, indecent assault and attempted rape, in March last year following a High Court trial and Mr Hamilton’s inquiry was delayed again by the pandemic, before resuming in August 2020.

The code says it is the First Minister who is “the ultimate judge of the standards of behaviour expected of a minister” and the appropriate consequences for breaches.

Speaking outside her Glasgow home on Monday morning, Ms Sturgeon said: “I’m going to do what I’ve done every day for the last year – lead the country through a pandemic.”

The SNP’s deputy leader at Westminster, Kirsten Oswald, was pulled from appearing on Adam Boulton’s Sky News show by the party while the programme was on air, according to the presentert.

But the SNP has completely denied Mr Boulton’s account.