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Dublin: 13 °C Friday 10 July, 2020

Nicola Sturgeon refers herself to ministerial watchdog over talks with Alex Salmond

Salmond resigned from the SNP last year after sexual harassment allegations, which he denies, were made public.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon
Image: Jane Barlow/PA Wire/PA Images

SCOTTISH FIRST MINISTER Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed she will refer herself to a ministerial watchdog regarding talks she held with her predecessor Alex Salmond while he was being investigated over sexual harassment allegations.

Sturgeon, leader of the Scottish National Party, made phone calls and took meetings with Salmond while investigations was underway.

In a statement reported in The National newspaper, Sturgeon said: “It is in the interests of the women who have complained that the ongoing police investigations are allowed to continue without any risk of prejudice. That must be the priority for everyone.

“Questions have been raised about my meetings and telephone calls with Alex Salmond during the Government’s investigation into the complaints which were made.”

Sturgeon said she has “acted appropriately and in good faith” but will refer herself to a panel of independent advisers on the ministerial code so the Scottish Parliament and the wider public can “be assured of that”.

Sturgeon added that she would not be commenting on the matter further, stating:

The fact remains that at the centre of this issue are two women whose complaints could not be swept under the carpet. Any continuing commentary about these issues at this stage – whether from myself, the Government or Mr Salmond and his representatives – would only serve to distract from and potentially compromise the proper consideration by the police of the subject matter of their investigations. That is something we will not do.

Last week, a judge ruled that the Scottish government acted unlawfully in its investigation into the claims against Salmond.

Salmond resigned from the SNP in August 2018 after the allegations were made public. In a statement released at the time, he said the complaints, which reportedly date back to 2013 when he was first minister, were “patently ridiculous”.

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Órla Ryan

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