Nicola Sturgeon urged to act over Alex Salmond messages

Nicola Sturgeon is facing calls to take “immediate action” over messages from SNP chief executive Peter Murrell suggesting the police should investigate Alex Salmond over sex assault claims.
Peter Murrell is under fire over messagesPeter Murrell is under fire over messages
Peter Murrell is under fire over messages

Mr Murrell, who is married to the First Minister, has now reportedly admitted sending the messages on WhatsApp.

But he is believed to regret the way they have been worded.

The messages came to light after they were provided by ex-Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill to the Holyrood committee investigating the botched Scottish Government probe into complaints against Mr Salmond. Mr MacAskill says he received them anonymously.

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The messages appear to show Mr Murrell wanted police action against Mr Salmond in January 2019. This was after he won a judicial review against the Scottish Government and faced an investigation into sexual assault claims of which he was later cleared in court.

The first message stated: “Totally agree folk should be asking the police questions... report now with the PF on charges which leaves police twiddling their thumbs. So good time to be pressurising them. Would be good to know Met looking at events in London.”

The second message states: “TBH the more fronts he is having to firefight on the better for all complainers. so CPS action would be a good thing.”

It has been reported by the Daily Record today that Mr Murrell meant the first message to imply that individuals should direct any questions they had to the police, while the second meant that all allegations should be investigated.

But Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said: “The chief executive of the governing party has admitted sending messages calling for the police to be pressured into action against their former boss, Alex Salmond.

“This is a shattering, extraordinary revelation and leaves Peter Murrell’s position as chief executive of the SNP completely untenable.

“We must now be told what Nicola Sturgeon and Scottish Government ministers knew about these messages. Had they seen them? Did they know about them? Were they asked to pressure the police?

“Nicola Sturgeon has to take responsibility. This is her government, her party, and it’s up to her to do the right thing and immediately act.

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“She oversees the actions of the SNP chief executive. There is nobody else to blame.

“The First Minister must sack Peter Murrell or her judgement is gone.”

But an SNP spokesman hit back at the claims

“The Tories’ desperation to politicise matters before the Committee is in extremely bad taste,” he said.

“Mr Murrell has fully addressed matters in his written evidence to the Committee. The leaked extracts of his text messages have been deliberately taken out of context and are intended to misrepresent events.”

It came as Nationalist MSP Linda Fabiani, who is heading up the Holyrood committee inquiry, hit out at leaks from the committee.

“I am deeply disappointed and angry that details about private discussions of the Committee have made their way into the public domain,” she said yesterday.

“This Committee must be trusted. Trust in process, and trust in institutions is at the heart of this inquiry and it is vital that in carrying out our work we are able to have trust in each other to help us undertake robust scrutiny of the evidence before us.”

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