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by Niall Christie
FIRST MINISTER Nicola Sturgeon has maintained that she did not intervene in the Scottish government’s investigation into her predecessor as she faced calls to resign from opposition MSPs.
The SNP leader hit out today at what she described as “absurd” claims that there was a “plot against Alex Salmond,” insisting: “I would never have wanted to ‘get’” her former boss.
Appearing in front of MSPs as part of the committee on the Scottish government’s handling of harassment complaints, Ms Sturgeon said that the details of complaints against Mr Salmond were “shocking.”
An inquiry into Mr Salmond was launched after a number of women came forward with allegations of sexual harassment.
But a successful judicial review by Mr Salmond resulted in the government investigation being ruled unlawful and “tainted by apparent bias,” resulting in a legal fee costing the taxpayer £512,250.
He was later acquitted of 13 charges following a criminal trial.
Ms Sturgeon told MSPs today the idea that those involved were “concocting” allegations was false, and they came forward of “their own free will.”
She apologised to the public and the women who submitted sexual harassment complaints about Mr Salmond, saying that there had been “a very serious mistake” in the Scottish government’s investigation and that her administration has “nothing to hide.”
But the First Minister said that Mr Salmond’s behaviour “was not always appropriate,” maintaining that it was “absolutely right” the Scottish government investigated the complaints.
Labour’s Jackie Baillie questioned Ms Sturgeon over “missing” documents from the Scottish government’s legal advice given to the committee at the “11th hour,” with convener Linda Fabiani saying that the committee shared Ms Baillie’s “frustration” on this.
Ms Sturgeon stressed she had always acted “properly and appropriately” and there was “no intention” by the Scottish government to withhold information from the committee.
The Scottish Conservatives announced ahead of Ms Sturgeon’s appearance today that they could submit a vote of no confidence in the First Minister over claims she misled Parliament.
Written evidence surrounding the inquiry contradict Ms Sturgeon’s statements to parliament and her submission to a Holyrood inquiry, which the Tories claim is a breach of the ministerial code.
Other opposition parties have said that they would wait until the SNP leader had appeared to give evidence before making a judgement on her position.
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