Nicola Sturgeon 'misled parliament', says Salmond investigation committee

A majority of MSPs on the Alex Salmond committee have said Nicola Sturgeon misled their inquiry, it has been reported.

Members have decided that the first minister misled the committee itself and, as such, misled parliament and potentially breached the ministerial code of conduct.

It is understood MSPs on the committee voted by five to four that Ms Sturgeon gave them an inaccurate account.

It will significantly increase pressure on Ms Sturgeon to step down. 

The committee's final report is expected to be published next Tuesday.

Ms Sturgeon appeared before them earlier this month to give oral evidence and, before that, made a written submission in which she insisted she had not offered to intervene in a Scottish government investigation into harassment complaints made against her predecessor, Alex Salmond.

Ms Sturgeon told Sky News that she stood by all of the evidence she gave to the committee earlier this month.

She added: "What has been clear is that opposition members of this committee made their minds up before I uttered a single word of evidence. Their public comments have made that clear."

Mr Salmond has insisted that she had made such an offer during a meeting at her house on 2 April 2018.

Mr Salmond's account was confirmed by Duncan Hamilton QC, his legal adviser, who was present at the meeting and wrote to the committee that Ms Sturgeon had said: "If it comes to it, I will intervene."

The cross-party committee includes four SNP MSPs, two Conservatives, one Labour, one Liberal Democrat and independent Andy Wightman.

A spokesman for the Scottish Parliament said the committee was still finalising its report, and it would not make any comment until it was published.

Their inquiry has been looking into the Scottish government's mishandling of a 2018 investigation of harassment complaints against Mr Salmond.

He challenged its legality and a court ruled that it was "unlawful" and "tainted by apparent bias". Mr Salmond was subsequently acquitted of sexual assault charges at a criminal trial in March 2020.

The remit of the Holyrood committee has been to consider and report on the actions of the first minister, Scottish government officials, and special advisers.