Nicola Sturgeon Cleared Of Breaching The Ministerial Code Over Her Involvement In Salmond Saga
Nicola Sturgeon did not breach the ministerial code in relation to meetings with Alex Salmond, according to an independent investigation.
In his long-awaited report, the former Irish prosecutor James Hamilton said he could see no breach of the strict rules governing the First Minister’s conduct.
The SNP leader had been accused of misleading parliament over meetings with her predecessor while he was the subject of a civil service probe into allegations of harassment.
Hamilton’s remit saw him look at meetings between the two at Sturgeon’s Glasgow home on 2 April 2018. The First Minister initially said this was when she first heard of the allegations against Salmond.
As part of his probe he also investigated a meeting with Geoff Aberdein on March 29, that Sturgeon said she had forgotten about.
Hamilton also assessed conversations between Sturgeon and Salmond on 23 April, 7 June and 14 and 18 July 2018.
He has been tasked with considering whether the First Minister had misled parliament about these meetings, whether the First Minister attempted to influence the conduct of the investigation, and whether the First Minister broke the code by continuing with the judicial review.
In his report conclusion he said: “I am of the opinion that the First Minister did not breach the provisions of the Ministerial Code in respect of any of these matters.”
Sturgeon said: "I welcome the conclusions of James Hamilton’s independent investigation, which are comprehensive, evidence-based and unequivocal.
“Mr Hamilton has considered all of the allegations against me, and I am happy that his report’s findings clear me of any breach of the ministerial code.
“I sought at every stage in this issue to act with integrity and in the public interest. As I have previously made clear, I did not consider that I had broken the code, but these findings are official, definitive and independent adjudication of that.
“Prior to its publication, opposition politicians stressed the importance of respecting and accepting the outcome of Mr Hamilton’s independent inquiry, and I committed wholeheartedly to doing so. Now that he has reported, it is incumbent on them to do likewise.
“Today I want, once again, to remind people that at the heart of this case were women who had the courage to come forward and complain. That they were let down by the Scottish Government’s handling of their complaints is not in dispute, and I again apologise to them for that.
“I was determined, however, at the time these complaints emerged that they should not be swept under the carpet, and that I would not intervene in the process.
“Had I done so, as requested by Alex Salmond, it would – as Mr Hamilton observes – ‘undoubtedly have been seen as a partisan and political interference’ which ‘would undoubtedly have undermined public confidence in the processes of government to a much greater extent than in fact eventually happened’.
“James Hamilton was appointed by Mr Salmond as an independent adviser on the Scottish Ministerial Code. He has previously investigated a Labour First Minister of Wales, and he has applied himself to this task with rigour and diligence. Mr Hamilton is an internationally renowned legal professional with impeccable credentials and no one should seek to suggest or imply that he has acted anything other than independently and utterly without fear or favour.
“Now that this investigation is complete and its conclusions public, I will continue to devote all of my time and energy to leading Scotland, to helping the country through the pandemic, and to ensuring that as we rebuild from the hardships of the last twelve months, we do everything we can to protect jobs, support our health service and rebuild our communities for the better.”
Read more at Holyrood.com