Salmond Inquiry: '#IStandWithNicola' trends on social media as Holyrood committee finds Sturgeon misled Parliament

Nicola Sturgeon’s supporters on social media rallied round the First Minister on Friday morning, after a Holyrood committee voted that she had misled Parliament.

Thousands of Twitter users said they still backed Ms Sturgeon, with many accusing MSPs on the panel of a partisan stitch-up.

The hashtag ‘#IStandWithNicola’ is now one of the trending topics on the site.

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It comes after news leaked on Thursday evening that members of the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints Committee had agreed, in a five-to-four vote, that the First Minister gave an “inaccurate” account of a meeting with her predecessor during the live investigation.

A Scottish Parliament spokeswoman said the committee is still considering its report, due to be published on Tuesday next week.

One Twitter user called the leak “disgraceful”, adding that the committee was “not fit for purpose and never has been”.

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Alex Salmond inquiry: Committee concludes Nicola Sturgeon 'misled parliament'

Another wrote that Ms Sturgeon was “the most trusted and trustworthy politician in Scotland and beyond.”

Nicola Sturgeon’s supporters on social media rallied round the First Minister on Friday morning, after a Holyrood committee voted that she had misled Parliament. (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

A third urged the First Minister to “stay strong”.

“The closer you get to victory the more vicious the establishment becomes,” they wrote.

While Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar called the committee’s finding “incredibly serious”, he stopped short of calling for Ms Sturgeon’s resignation, adding that he would not prejudge the outcome of the its report.

Meanwhile, Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross, insisted the First Minister’s position was no longer tenable, and said she had “lied to the Scottish Parliament”.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar called the committee’s finding “incredibly serious”, but stopped short of calling for Ms Sturgeon’s resignation. (Photo by Fraser Bremner - Pool/Getty Images)

He added: “All we’re waiting for is confirmation.”

In a defiant mood on Thursday evening, however, Ms Sturgeon told reporters outside her Glasgow home that she stood by her evidence to the committee.

“What’s been clear is that opposition members of this committee made their minds up about me before I muttered a single word of evidence, their public comments have made that clear.

She added: “So this leak from the committee – very partisan leak – tonight before they’ve finalised the report is not that surprising.”

The Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints was set up after a successful judicial review by Mr Salmond resulted in the Scottish Government’s investigation being ruled unlawful and “tainted by apparent bias”, with a £512,250 payout being awarded to him for legal fees in 2019.

The SNP leader has faced questions about when she became aware of the internal government investigation of her predecessor, having originally told parliament it was at a meeting with him at her home on April 2.

It later emerged that Mr Salmond’s former chief of staff had spoken to Ms Sturgeon about – in her words – “a harassment-type issue” four days earlier when arranging the subsequent meeting.

She told the committee she wished her memory of the earlier meeting was “more vivid”, but “it was the detail of the complaints under the procedure that I was given on April 2 that was significant and indeed shocking”.

Ms Sturgeon also defended her decision not to record the meeting, as per the ministerial code, because she initially suspected it was about party business.

But Mr Salmond’s claim there was “no doubt” their meeting was about the government investigation was corroborated by Duncan Hamilton QC – a former SNP MSP – and the SNP’s former communications director, Kevin Pringle.

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