Nicola Sturgeon Survives Confidence Vote As Alex Salmond Saga Rumbles On

Jeff J MitchellPA

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood, Edinburgh.

Nicola Sturgeon has survived a motion of no confidence, despite a Holyrood committee finding she misled parliament over a meeting with Alex Salmond.

The Scottish Tories had been calling for the first minister to resign in the wake of her government’s botched handling of sex harassment complaints against Sturgeon’s predecessor. 

But with the Greens rejecting their no-confidence motion, a majority of MSPs supported the FM in the vote on Tuesday. Scottish Labour abstained.  

It ends a turbulent few weeks for the SNP leader as the second of two reports on her conduct during the Salmond probe was made public. 

On Monday, the independent inquiry, led by Ireland’s top prosecutor James Hamilton, cleared the FM of all claims she breached the ministerial code. 

But on Tuesday, a Holyrood committee report on the Scottish government’s handling of the Salmond complaints found a “fundamental contradiction” in the FM’s evidence. 

It said that Sturgeon’s meeting with Salmond at her home in Glasgow, on April 2 in 2018, left her former mentor “with the impression that she would, if necessary, intervene”.

The report by a cross-party group of MSPs went on to say Sturgeon’s written evidence was “therefore an inaccurate account”, and that this amounted to misleading parliament. 

It also states the committee “find it hard to believe” Sturgeon had “no knowledge of any concerns about inappropriate behaviour on the part of  Salmond prior to November 2017”.

Both inquiries were set up after a judicial review of the Scottish government’s investigation said the sex harassment complaints process was “tainted by apparent bias” in 2019. Salmond, who was acquitted of sex offence charges at a criminal trial, was awarded £512,250 after the review. 

The committee found the Scottish government’s handling of the complaints was “seriously flawed”.

It concluded the government was responsible from an early stage “for a serious, substantial and entirely avoidable situation that resulted in a prolonged, expensive and unsuccessful defence” of the civil case.

Deputy first minister John Swinney said the Scottish government would “learn lessons” from the report and has apologised “unreservedly” for failings by the administration.

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