Nicola Sturgeon has been accused of misleading the Scottish Parliament about her dealings with Alex Salmond, but unknowingly, in a report highly critical of the MSPs.
A specially convened Holyrood committee voted by a 5-4 margin to find that the prime minister had misled parliament about his accounts of a meeting with Salmond, his former mentor, in April 2018.
Her report, from which small excerpts were controversially leaked last week, read: “The committee has a hard time believing that the Prime Minister was not aware of any concerns about inappropriate behavior on the part of Mr. Salmond prior to November 2017. have such knowledge, then he should have acted accordingly. If she had such knowledge, then she has misled the committee, “he said.
“The committee observes that there is a fundamental contradiction in the evidence regarding whether, at the April 2, 2018 meeting, the prime minister agreed or not to intervene. Taking into account the opposite versions of events, the committee believes that, in fact, it left Mr. Salmond with the impression that, if necessary, he would intervene.
This was confirmed by Duncan Hamilton [Salmond’s lawyer] who was also at the meeting. Therefore, your written testimony is an inaccurate account of what happened and you have misled the committee on this matter. This is a possible infraction of the ministerial code according to the terms of section 1.3 “
That finding did not come to govern Sturgeon “knowingly” misled parliament. Knowingly misleading parliament would be a clear violation of the ministerial code and a matter of resignation.
That ruling, which caused a deep division in the committee, contradicts the findings Monday of an independent investigation into Sturgeon’s conduct, which cleared her of multiple charges for violating the ministerial code.
James Hamilton, Ireland’s former director of public prosecution, said on Monday that while Sturgeon had “regrettable” memory lapses about his initial dealings with Salmond, he accepted his explanations for why he met the former prime minister.
Despite Hamilton’s decision to acquit her of violating the code, Sturgeon still faces a no-confidence motion filed by Scottish Conservatives in Holyrood later Tuesday.
No other opposition party is expected to back him, given Hamilton’s findings, but opposition leaders are likely to be harshly critical of Sturgeon’s conduct and the actions of his government.
Linda Fabiani, committee chair and former SNP minister, said: “These women were disappointed by the Scottish government, but they have also been disappointed by some members of our committee. I am truly appalled at the damage that some leaks from the committee have caused you. I apologize without reservation. This is not what we should be as a committee of this parliament.
“Our investigation was an opportunity to reflect on what went wrong with the Scottish government processes and to ensure that the failures these women experienced never happen again.
“To be sure, there are some extremely serious findings in our report and it was clear to the committee that there were serious flaws in the government’s application of its own process. The government must address these issues to ensure that anyone experiencing sexual harassment has the confidence to come forward. “
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism