Sturgeon urged to publish details of talks with Salmond during complaints probe

Sturgeon urged to publish details of talks with Salmond during complaints probe

Nicola Sturgeon has been urged to publish the detail of conversations she had with Alex Salmond while he was being investigated over sexual harassment complaints.

The First Minister told MSPs in a parliamentary statement she met her predecessor three times during the investigation into complaints against him made by two women which were formally lodged with the Scottish Government in January 2018.

Two of the meetings took place at her home, with another in Aberdeen before an SNP conference, and she also spoke to him twice on the phone.

Alex Salmond speaking outside the Court of Session in Edinburgh (Jane Barlow/PA)
Alex Salmond speaking outside the Court of Session in Edinburgh (Jane Barlow/PA)

Labour MSP Rhoda Grant said: “The First Minister should commit to publishing the content of these conversations as soon as possible – if not, she needs to explain why.

“It appeared, from Nicola Sturgeon’s answer to me in the Holyrood Chamber, that Alex Salmond had asked her to take some course of action in the process and she refused. People deserve to know what that request was.

“Nicola Sturgeon must also explain why she thought it was appropriate to speak with Alex Salmond about this issue a further four times after she was informed of the investigation.”

We know that Mr Salmond raised his case with Ms Sturgeon at these meetings. How then can she claim not to have been involved?

Scottish Conservative interim leader Jackson Carlaw said: “The Scottish Government’s own procedures make clear that the First Minister should only have been involved after the investigation into Mr Salmond was complete.

“But we now learn that while the investigation was ongoing, the First Minister had private meetings with Mr Salmond at her home and had two further phone calls with him.

“We know that Mr Salmond raised his case with Ms Sturgeon at these meetings. How then can she claim not to have been involved?

“This is a shambles and the First Minister’s answers will only serve to raise further questions about what exactly has been going on.”

Ms Sturgeon told MSPs in the first meeting, on April 2 2018, Mr Salmond told her about the complaints – which he denies – and “set out his various concerns about the process”.

At other times, he repeated these concerns and mentioned the proposals being made to the Scottish Government about mediation and arbitration.

She said: “I was always clear that I had no role in the process and I did not seek to intervene in it at any stage – nor indeed did I feel under pressure to do so.”

Opposition politicians also raised concerns about the impact on future sexual harassment complaints of the court ruling in the civil case against the Scottish Government.

Lord Pentland ruled following a hearing at the Court of Session in Edinburgh the Scottish Government had acted unlawfully regarding decisions made by Permanent Secretary Leslie Evans.

This involved the official investigating the complaints having contact with the complainers before being formally appointed.

Scottish Labour warned of “potential loss of faith in the system” while the Scottish Conservatives said women could be discouraged from coming forward in future.

- Press Association

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