43% of Scots believe Nicola Sturgeon ‘deliberately misled Parliament’ over meeting

According to a new poll, more than two in five Scots believe Nicola Sturgeon “deliberately misled Parliament” by telling MSPs investigating the Scottish Government’s botched handling of sexual harassment claims against Alex Salmond that she forgot about a meeting with his former chief of staff.

The First Minister previously said she was first made aware of complaints against her predecessor when he told her in a meeting at her home on April 2, 2018.

But in written evidence to the Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints, she said she spoke to Geoff Aberdein, former chief of staff to Mr Salmond, in her Holyrood office on March 9, 2018, about the fact the former first minister wanted to meet to discuss “allegations of a sexual nature”.

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She said: “I had forgotten that this encounter had taken place until I was reminded of it in, I think, late January/early February 2019.

Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon.Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon.
Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon.

“For context, I think the meeting took place not long after the weekly session of FMQs and in the midst of a busy day in which I would have been dealing with a multitude of other matters.”

At First Minister’s Questions last week, Scottish Conservative Holyrood leader Ruth Davidson said Ms Sturgeon’s explanation “does not even bear the lightest scrutiny”, and is “beyond belief”.

The First Minister said she has “nothing to hide” and wants to appear before the committee to give evidence.

A Savanta ComRes poll carried out the day after FMQs found 43% of Scots believe that Nicola Sturgeon “deliberately misled Parliament” over the issue.

Of these, two thirds (67%) believe that this was to protect herself, nearly two in five (37%) believe this was done to protect the SNP, and one in five (18%) believe this was to protect Alex Salmond.

A quarter of Scots believe that she genuinely forgot.

Among SNP voters, the number who believe Ms Sturgeon genuinely forgot rises to 47%, while among Conservative voters it falls to 4%.

Mr Salmond was cleared of 13 charges of sexual assault, attempted rape and indecent exposure at the High Court in Edinburgh in March 2020.

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