Nicola Sturgeon responds to leaked committee findings
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Ms Sturgeon is facing increased pressure to stand down ahead of the Holyrood election in May after 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.
Now, George Galloway has hit out at Ms Sturgeon and the SNP, claiming those who supported the Union were constantly portrayed as being “traitors”.
Mr Galloway tweeted: “We Scots who support the Union are attacked all day every day as traitors.
“We are anathematised as heretics who should leave our country or to be driven out of it.
“Scottish Nationalism is hell.
“Whatever our differences with each other only one thing matters in May.
“#SNPout be smart.”
Despite ruling Ms Sturgeon gave an “inaccurate” account, MSPs did not say the First Minister “knowingly” broke the code, in which case a minister would be expected to stand down.
The Scottish First Minister has said she stands “by all the evidence” she gave to the committee.
A spokesperson for Ms Sturgeon said: “The First Minister told the truth to the committee in eight hours of evidence, and stands by that evidence.
“It is clear from past public statements that opposition members of this committee had prejudged the First Minister at the outset of the inquiry and before hearing a word of her evidence, so this partisan and selective briefing – before the committee has actually published its final report – is hardly surprising.
“The question of the First Minister’s adherence to the ministerial code is being considered independently by James Hamilton and we expect to receive and publish his report soon.”
The committee’s report will be published next week. It is expected to say: “The committee notes there is a fundamental contradiction in the evidence in relation to whether, at the meeting on April 2, 2018, the First Minister did or did not agree to intervene.
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“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).”
Ms Sturgeon appeared before the committee earlier this month.
The First Minister previously made a written submission in which she insisted she had not offered to intervene in a Scottish Government investigation into harassment complaints made against Mr Salmond.
However, Mr Salmond insisted she had made such an offer during a meeting at her house on April 2, 2018.
This account was backed by his legal advisor, Duncan Hamilton, who was present at the meeting and claimed Ms Sturgeon said she would “intervene” if she had to.
Last night’s findings have sparked renewed calls for the First Minister to resign.
Scottish Tory leader, Douglas Ross, said: “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.”
The full report by the committee has yet to be officially published.
Scotland will go to the polls on May 6.
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