Nicola Sturgeon ‘confirmed to have misled Parliament’ as opposition criticise handling of Alex Salmond inquiry

Nicola Sturgeon’s evidence to the Salmond inquiry confirms she has ‘misled Parliament’, the Scottish Conservatives have claimed.

Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond are at the heart of a parliamentary inquiry into the Scottish Government's handling of harassment complaints against the former First Minister

The comments follow the publication of her written evidence submitted to the Holyrood inquiry, which is examining the process around the complaints procedure that led to the Scottish Government conceding a judicial review case from Mr Salmond to the tune of more than £500,000.

Alongside the Scottish Tories, Scottish Labour have also accused the First Minister’s evidence as having “as many holes as a Swiss cheese”.

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Alex Salmond inquiry: All the messages between him and Nicola Sturgeon

The Scottish Liberal Democrats said the submission leaves the committee with more questions than answers.

Highlighting parts of Ms Sturgeon’s evidence around a meeting with former adviser to Mr Salmond, Geoff Aberdein, the Tory MSP Murdo Fraser said the evidence was “incredible”, “simply beyond belief” and “shocking”.

He said: “We are expected to accept that Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister renowned for her grasp of detail, has the memory of a sieve when she’s told that her mentor of 30 years is facing allegations of sexual misconduct.

“A meeting that would be seared in most people’s memory was immediately forgot all about.

“It’s hard to know what’s more shocking – this evidence, the fact they think we’ll believe this pile of nonsense, or that this is only the tip of the iceberg. It’s only what the SNP are willing to let us see.

“It’s now a matter of fact that the First Minister misled Parliament.”

Committee member and Labour MSP Jackie Baillie said the evidence had “exposed” the “blurring of lines” between the Scottish Government and the SNP.

She said: “The First Minister’s evidence to this committee raises many questions and could be described as having as many holes as a Swiss cheese.

“It is also worth noting that the First Minister states that there would be no need for the harassment policy had it not been for the alleged actions of Alex Salmond. How does that fit with the claim that the policy was drafted in response to the #MeToo movement?

“Nicola Sturgeon’s evidence to the committee will be considered in due course, but what her evidence has exposed is the blurring of lines between the Scottish Government and the SNP, and the fact that they seem to live in each other’s pockets.”

Lib Dem MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton said the evidence required the First Minister to answer further questions about the involvement of her husband, SNP chief executive Peter Murrell, and why the Scottish Government did not listen to Mr Salmond’s belief the judicial review action was a “slam dunk”.

He said: "The First Minister expects the public to believe that her husband knew Alex Salmond was visiting their home, but didn't discuss it with him at all, even though it was a matter which she admits could cause a media storm for her party.

“This is also the first time that we’ve understood that there was an offer on the table of independent arbitration, which could have helped to resolve the issues at hand with a fraction of the cost and embarrassment that the Scottish Government eventually endured.

“I understand the difficult personal and professional questions these events have raised for the First Minister but this is a submission which leaves the committee with more questions than answers."

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