Nicola Sturgeon criticises 'political games' by Scottish Conservatives amid renewed calls for her to resign

Nicola Sturgeon again refused to confirm whether she will resign if she is found to have breached the ministerial code during a fiery session of First Minister’s Questions which focused on the ongoing Salmond Inquiry.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon during First Minister's Questions at the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood, Edinburgh.

The First Minister was pressed by opposition party leaders on why it took the threat of a vote of no confidence in the deputy first minister to release the legal advice connected to the judicial review.

She also confirmed the Scottish Government will release the findings of both James Hamilton QC’s independent investigation into her potential breach of the ministerial code and the Salmond Inquiry report as soon as they are available.

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In an angry session of FMQs, Ruth Davidson called on Ms Sturgeon to resign over her handling of the judicial review process and questioned why it took the Scottish Government so long to concede despite concerns being raised by external counsel.

The Scottish Conservatives’ leader in Holyrood asked why it took so long for the Government to decide not to “defend the indefensible” and asked why key documents went undisclosed for so long.

She said: “Because of the legal advice that had to be dragged from this government under threat of a vote of no confidence we know that for weeks this government were definitively and beyond any doubt ignoring legal advice.

"But the case only became unstatable so late because this government withheld crucial documents for so long."

Responding, Ms Sturgeon said she had answered questions for eight hours on the subject during her appearance in front of the Salmond Inquiry and that the legal advice was there for those with an “open mind” to judge.

She added that the Scottish Tories were more interested in playing “political games” and that the line of questioning showed the “true colours” of the Davidson’s party.

The First Minister said: “I don’t know if Ruth Davidson approved this comment or not but the Conservatives said in terms that it did not matter what I said before a parliamentary committee yesterday because they had already made up their minds.

"It’s not about due process, it is political desperation on behalf of the Conservatives.”

Ms Davidson later repeated Scottish Conservatives calls for the First Minister to resign.

She said: “There’s no argument that the First Minister was at fault for losing more than £500,000 of taxpayer’s money, the argument is only about how much she is to blame for, and there’s no argument if Nicola Sturgeon broke the ministerial code, the argument is only about how badly she broke it.

"We believe the sanction is to go, why doesn’t she?”

Responding, the First Minister said it was another example of the opposition “pre-judging” the results of the inquiry and said the election would be the “ultimate scrutiny”.

She said: “Remember, the people of Scotland have been voting no confidence in the Conservatives since the 1950s.

"I’ll get on with my job, I’ll let the inquiries do their job, I’ve not prejudged them, Ruth Davidson clearly has.”

New Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar also pressed the government on the publication of legal advice, criticising the need for a threat of a no confidence vote for it to be released.

He also said “integrity” must be restored to Holyrood, and that the First Minister should resign if she is found to have breached the ministerial code.

He said: “These are principles which were undermined when the government failed the women who submitted claims of harassment; undermined by the government’s refusal to hand over all documentation to the committee investigating these failures; and undermined by the government ignoring two votes of the Parliament calling for all the legal advice to be published.

“I’m pleased the First Minister has provided a cast iron guarantee that the government will release the report on the Ministerial Code without delay or obstruction on the day that it is handed over – and we will hold the government to that promise.

“We need to remove party and personality from this. A minister – any minister – who is found in breach of the Ministerial Code should resign.”

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