Scottish Tories press ahead with vote of no confidence despite Greens and Labour opposition

The Scottish Tories are pressing ahead with a vote of no confidence in Nicola Sturgeon after a Holyrood committee found she misled parliament.

The final report of the Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints was released on Tuesday, showing a majority of MSPs on the committee felt that Ms Sturgeon had provided an “inaccurate account” of a meeting with her predecessor.

A motion of no confidence in Ms Sturgeon had been previously tabled by Conservative Holyrood leader Ruth Davidson, and Presiding Officer Macintosh has said he will allow a vote straight after debate this afternoon.

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But after the Scottish Greens and Scottish Labour indicated they would not support the vote, Labour leader Anas Sarwar has submitted an amendment to the original motion that will be considered first by the Scottish Parliament.

Leader of the Scottish Conservative Party Ruth Davidson during First Minister's Questions at the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood. Picture: Andy Buchanan/PA Wire
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The amendment reads: “That the Parliament expresses its deep concern at the Scottish Government’s failings documented in the Report of the Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints; regrets that nobody has yet taken responsibility for the seriously flawed process that let down complainants; is dissatisfied with the fundamental contradictions in the evidence received by the committee and the attempts by the Scottish Government to withhold information; expresses its disappointment in the Scottish Conservatives for prejudging investigations and for undermining the gravity of the situation, and believes that Scotland deserves better opposition, and further believes that accountability and transparency in government has been eroded by the First Minister, which must be urgently restored, and that Scotland deserves better government."

The First Minister said she had not told Alex Salmond she would intervene after complaints of harassment were made against him, but the committee found she “did in fact leave Mr Salmond with the impression that she would, if necessary, intervene” in a meeting in her Glasgow home on April 2, 2018.

The report continued: “Her written evidence is therefore an inaccurate account of what happened, and she has misled the committee on this matter.”

Mr Salmond won a more than £500,000 settlement from the Scottish Government after the complaints procedure was deemed to be “tainted with apparent bias”.

The former first minister was later cleared of 13 charges of sexual misconduct at Edinburgh High Court last year.

The findings come after the final report of James Hamilton’s investigation into a possible breach of the ministerial code cleared the First Minister on Monday.

Tory MSP and committee member, Murdo Fraser, said: “As James Hamilton said yesterday, it is for the Scottish Parliament to decide whether they were in fact misled.

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“The committee verdict is in – Nicola Sturgeon misled Parliament and the public.”

As the party announced it would continue on with the vote of no confidence, Mr Fraser added: “If she ploughs on regardless, as she did against the advice of lawyers in the doomed Alex Salmond judicial review case, the First Minister will leave the country scarred by the most bitter divisions.

“It seems clear that Nicola Sturgeon will refuse to abide by the principle of democratic accountability for her Government’s monumental mistakes.

“The committee report indicates that even if the First Minister won’t be held accountable, numerous senior Government officials should consider their position.”