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Ten questions Nicola Sturgeon might face during her inquiry appearance

Written by on 03/03/2021

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will give evidence to the Scottish parliament’s harassment committee today.

It was set up to look into the first minister’s government’s mishandling of its internal investigation into harassment claims against her predecessor, Alex Salmond.

Here are 10 questions she needs to answer and might well be asked:

Nicola Sturgeon
Image: Ms Sturgeon is facing calls from the Scottish Conservatives to resign

1. In 2009 when a manager at Edinburgh Airport phoned Angus Robertson, then-Westminster leader of the SNP, and told him of perceived “inappropriateness” by Alex Salmond towards female staff at the airport (Which Mr Salmond denies), did Mr Robertson tell you about it? If so, what did you do?

2. You are accused of misleading parliament by claiming to have learned of complaints against Alex Salmond when he came to your house on 2 April 2018. There was a meeting with his chief of staff and an official in your office four days before that, on 29 March 2018. At least one account says you discussed the complaints then, stating specifically: “The conversation was around the fact of the complaints, without discussing the specifics of them. There was discussion about the investigation, the process of it, the fact it was a civil service investigation being conducted by civil servants.” You have said that’s not how you recall it – specifically, how do you remember it?

3. In written submission, you have told the committee you arranged the 2 April 2018 meeting thinking that Alex Salmond was going to resign from the SNP. Mr Salmond said in evidence to the committee that he hadn’t considered resignation. If resignation wasn’t in his head, why would it be in yours?

4. You have denied offering to intervene regarding the 2018 complaints against Alex Salmond and, yet, at the 2 April 2018 meeting, Duncan Hamilton QC – a former SNP MSP and Alex Salmond’s current legal adviser – supports Mr Salmond’s claim that you did indeed offer, stating: “If it comes to it, I will intervene.” It is a specific memory from a QC who was assessing the legal implications of the encounter. He’s also a friend to you both. Has he got that wrong?

More from Alex Salmond

5. The Scottish government changed its workplace complaints procedure in 2010 following union concerns over bullying around the office of the then first minister (Alex Salmond) and other ministers. You were given a role in handling complaints under the new Fairness at Work code. Were you aware of bullying at that time and, if so, what did you do about it?

6. The Scottish government has released legal advice surrounding Alex Salmond’s judicial review challenge in 2018/19. Nothing has been released for the month of November 2018. You had a meeting with legal counsel on the 13th of that month. Why has no record been produced of that?

7. You had a meeting with your government’s most senior civil servant, Leslie Evans, on 29 November 2018 to discuss the development of the government’s harassment policy. She says that, if she did take notes, she would have destroyed them. What did you discuss, and why wasn’t this meeting submitted to the harassment committee along with a timeline of how the complaints policy was developed?

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Will Salmond inquiry damage the SNP?

8. Alex Salmond says the name of a complainer was passed to him after being revealed to his chief of staff by a Scottish government official during its investigation. This has been described in parliament as an “extraordinary breach of confidentiality”. Having said you don’t believe that happened, will you investigate further, given that Mr Salmond’s chief of staff – as the individual involved – says he was, indeed, given the name?

9. Sky News revealed that a Scottish government official, who works with you, asked for a change in a press statement regarding when they knew about complaints against Alex Salmond, for fear of the impact it would have on their career. They wanted a change in wording from “knew” about the complaints to “suspected”. The dates concerned pre-dated the occasion when you say you learned of complaints against Alex Salmond. Why would it be an issue for the official concerned?

10. If you are found to have breached the Ministerial Code, will you resign?

 Sky News

© Sky News 2020

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