No record of controversial Alex Salmond-Nicola Sturgeon meeting

Nicola Sturgeon’s chief of staff has not included a controversial meeting she helped arrange - and then attend - between the First Minister and Alex Salmond in her official Government diary.
Former Scottish first minister Alex Salmond. (Photo: Getty Images)Former Scottish first minister Alex Salmond. (Photo: Getty Images)
Former Scottish first minister Alex Salmond. (Photo: Getty Images)

Liz Lloyd, the First Minister’s top special adviser, cancelled a late afternoon “catch-up” scheduled on April 2 last year and a further “series of meetings” were also deleted on the same day, according to correspondence released through Freedom of Information.

“A new one will be set up in due course,” the entry states. It also indicates information in the entry has been redacted.

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Ms Lloyd was present at the meeting in Ms Sturgeon’s home that day where the current First Minister met her predecessor and was informed by him of the Scottish Government probe he was facing over misconduct. It later collapsed after a judicial review found ministers acted unlawfully.

The SNP and Ms Sturgeon have faced criticism over a lack of transparency about three meetings and two telephone conversations between Mr Salmond and his successor while the Government probe into him was underway.

A spokesman for the Tories said the diary entries raise fresh questions.

“People will certainly have questions to ask about the diary of a senior taxpayer-funded Scottish Government employee,” he said.

“The SNP government does not have to wait for the Holyrood investigation, and could clarify exactly what this member of staff was doing on these days, and why.”

As well as the April 2 meeting, Ms Sturgeon met Mr Salmond at the SNP conference on June 7 and again at her home on July 14. Two phone conversations happened on April 23 and July 18. Ms Sturgeon has insisted the contacts were all SNP-related and not Government matters. Ms Lloyd, in her role as politically-appointed special adviser, can advise on both party matters as well as Government issues.

It has since emerged that Ms Lloyd helped broker the meeting on April 2 with Geoff Aberdein who had been Mr Salmond’s chief of staff.

Ms Sturgeon has insisted that she made it clear to Mr Salmond she had “no role” in the Government probe into him. It collapsed last month over procedural flaws.

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She told MSPs last month: “I did not seek to intervene in it at any stage — nor, indeed, did I feel under any pressure to do so.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman declined to add to this last night.

A fortnight after the collapse of the judicial review, it was announced Mr Salmond has been charged with a string of criminal offences, including sexual assault and attempted rape. Mr Salmond denies all claims of criminality.