Nicola Sturgeon: Committee finds First Minister ‘misled’ Holyrood
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Mr Ross said his party would wait to read the full findings of the committee which is expected to be published in a report next Tuesday. But he insisted Ms Sturgeon should step down from her top role in light of the damning conclusion of MSPs. He tweeted: “The committee will publish its findings in the coming days and we will wait for that report.
“But we have already detailed that Nicola Sturgeon lied to the Scottish Parliament and for that, she must resign.
“All we’re waiting for is confirmation.”
Reports suggest MSPs on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints Committee voted 5-4 that the First Minister gave an “inaccurate” account of a meeting with her predecessor during the live investigation, according to a source.
This would amount to misleading the Scottish Parliament.
The committee’s finding, passed by a majority, reads: “The committee notes there is a fundamental contradiction in the evidence in relation to whether, at the meeting on the 2nd April 2018, the First Minister did or did not agree to intervene.
Douglas Ross said Nicola Sturgeon must resign (Image: GETTY)
Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross said Nicola Sturgeon ‘must resign’ (Image: GETTY)
“Taking account of the competing versions of the event, the committee believes that she did in fact leave Alex Salmond with the impression that she would, if necessary, intervene.
“This is corroborated by Duncan Hamilton, who was also at the meeting. Her written evidence is, therefore, an inaccurate account of what happened and she has misled the committee on this matter.
“This is a potential breach of the ministerial code under the terms of section 1.3 (c).”
The decision is likely to increase pressure on Ms Sturgeon to stand down before May’s election, although it is unclear whether the act was deemed a resignation-worthy offence.
A Scottish Parliament spokeswoman said the committee is still considering its report.
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said he was waiting to read the committee’s full report (Image: GETTY)
Ms Sturgeon gave evidence to the Holyrood committee for eight hours.
Ms Sturgeon’s spokesman denied she misled a parliamentary committee investigating her handling of sexual harassment claims against her predecessor, Mr Salmond, saying that she stood by her evidence.
He said: “The First Minister told the truth to the committee in eight hours of evidence, and stands by that evidence.”
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said if the committee’s report confirmed that MSPs believe they were misled by the First Minister it would be “incredibly serious”.
However, he stopped short of adding to the growing calls for Ms Sturgeon to give up her post.
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The scandal involving Alex Salmond could potentially bring about Nicola Sturgeon’s political downfall (Image: GETTY)
A woman and her dog walk under a ‘Resign Sturgeon’ sign in Glasgow (Image: GETTY)
He said: “I am not going to prejudge the outcome of the committee report and we await its findings, but if it does conclude that the First Minister has misled Parliament and potentially breached the ministerial code then that is incredibly serious.
“This is about the integrity of our Scottish Parliament and upholding standards in public life.
“The separate Hamilton inquiry has yet to report, and all parties must be given due process, however, the code which the First Minister has promised to follow by the letter is clear – any minister who is found in breach of the ministerial code has a duty to resign.”
In a statement, Mr Ross said in light of the findings, the Scottish Conservative party could “no longer” trust that Ms Sturgeon “will be truthful”.
He claimed there was “overwhelming evidence that she misled parliament” and urged her to rethink her position.
Nicola Sturgeon key facts (Image: EXPRESS)
He said: “The Committee will publish its findings in the coming days and we will wait for that report. However, we are really only waiting for confirmation of what we already know.
“We have detailed that the First Minister misled the Scottish Parliament. Nicola Sturgeon has not told the public the truth about what she knew and when.
“We cannot set a precedent that a First Minister of Scotland can mislead the Scottish Parliament and get away with it.
“We have to trust that the First Minister will be truthful. We no longer can.”
Speaking to Sky News tonight, Ms Sturgeon said she stood by all of the evidence she gave to the committee and said she was “not surprised” by the “partisan leak” from the committee.
Nicola Sturgeon arrives at Holyrood on Thursday for First Minister’s Questions (Image: GETTY)
She added: “What’s been clear is that opposition members of this committee made their minds up about me before I uttered a single word of evidence their public comments have made that clear.
“So this leak from the committee – very partisan leak – tonight before they’ve actually finalised the report is not that surprising.
“So let’s wait and see the final report but more importantly, the question of whether or not I breached the ministerial code is being considered independently by James Hamilton QC.
“I hope and expect to receive and publish that report soon, so let’s wait and see what the final reports have to say.”
If Ms Sturgeon is forced to quit, it could not come at a worse time for her Scottish National Party (SNP).
Before the high-stakes row erupted over the inquiry surrounding the party’s former leader Mr Salmond, the SNP had been predicted to win an absolute majority in the Scottish parliament in the May elections.
The Salmond drama had been bubbling in the background since 2018 and boiled over after his own explosive testimony to the parliamentary committee on February 26.
The affair could not only drive Ms Sturgeon out of her job but do lasting damage to the SNP.
Mr Salmond separately stood trial on charges of alleged sexual assault and was acquitted of all charges in 2020.